PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — Hundreds of supporters — including San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young — crowded into Palo Alto City Hall Monday in a show of support for a community chorus that is facing eviction from a local church.
Two of Young’s daughters are members of the iSing chorus which rents practice space from the First Baptist Church. Palo Alto officials content that is a violation because the church is not zoned to house a business.
They have demanded that the chorus be evicted.
“After more than 30 years, it’s time to revisit the zoning ordinance of treating churches as residences,” Young told the city officials.
Pastor Rick Mixon said his church has allowed therapists, choirs and dance groups to rent weekday space for the last four years. He says without the revenue the church may have to sell the property and relocate from pricey Palo Alto.
“This came as a real shock to us,” Mixon said of the eviction order.
Palo Alto Planning and Community Development Director Hillary Gitelman said her agency has suspended the church’s fines and extended windows for it to come into compliance.
“We have these rules to enforce, we’ve got complaints,” she told KPIX 5. “We have to enforce the rules, but these are uses that the community loves. We love music groups and dance groups in our community.”
Mixon said he hopes a compromise can be reached.
“We want to solve the problems, we believe they’re solvable,” he told KPIX 5.
One option under considered is to allow the church to apply for a community center permit. But another choral group that has used the church for practice has already decided to leave instead of fight City Hall.