Pasadena Planning Director clarifies law on homes being built on church property as First Church of Christ plans to build

Home construction Photo by form PxHere

Churches are not prohibited from constructing homes on their grounds, according to Pasadena Planning Director David Reyes. Reyes wrote that there is nothing that stops any churches from pursuing the building of affordable housing on properties. He also added that any such proposal would be evaluated in light of current zoning to determine what permits would be required to move forward.

On the property held by the First Church of Christ, developers plan to build a 110,503 square-foot, 162-unit, five-story residential care, general facility complex with two levels of underground parking, according to the report by Pasadena Now

Other churches in the community are also going forward with their construction plans.

The draft housing element identifies a religious institution housing ordinance as an implementation target under the alternative housing possibilities program. It's one of four goals that have been set for completion by 2025.

“This does not mean that staff intends to wait until 2025 to pursue this effort,” Reyes wrote. He also added that Management expects to go forward with the Religious Institution Housing Ordinance as soon as the City adopts the 2021-2029 Housing Element, which is expected to happen in December 2021.

In Los Angeles County, Logos Faith Development is now assisting seven other churches in redeveloping their properties for similar mixed-use, community-oriented objectives.

Other Objectives

Those objectives consist of investigating how the city or a partner group may act as a property manager for landowners who build auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs) but want a low-cost rental management alternative, examining current ADU requirements, and determining the best way to update the ordinance to conform state law while preserving the character and quality of residential communities, and working with Caltrans to sell Caltrans I-710 properties to low-income and special-needs families.

To accommodate enormous congregations, monolithic churches were erected in the last century with massive parking lots. However, many of those churches are now having difficulty filling pews, resulting in less money flowing into church funds.

Churches don’t have enough money?

According to Bloomberg News, in 2020, between 2018 and 2019, approximately a third of congregations in the United States claimed they had no savings.

Worse, during the epidemic, church contributions dropped dramatically.

In 2011, 270 churches were sold after not paying their debts, according to the CoStar Group, a real estate research service. In those cases, the banks, rather than the church property owner, sold 131 of them.

It was unclear how many local churches are striving to develop houses in order to pay off their debts.

First Church of Christ

A Church of Christ is located in Pasadena, California. First Church of Christ practices Christian Science. 

Living these spiritual principles, observing the Ten Commandments, following Christ's footsteps in the Sermon on the Mount, practicing Christian healing, and most importantly, living in accordance with the law of Love is all part of Christian Science practice.

Christian Science was developed by Mary Baker Eddy, who claimed in her 1875 book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that disease is an illusion that can be cured by prayer alone.

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