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“We feel like everything we do benefits the city and its residents,” Mixon said. “It’s all ministry to us, but the city doesn’t see it that way.”. First Baptist leases space to community organizations that otherwise could not afford to operate in Palo Alto, Mixon said. “It’s irresponsible to let a big space like this sit empty and not make it available to the community, and there’s clearly a need for it in Palo Alto,” Mixon said. Jill Cooper, a mental health therapist for adolescents who has rented office space from First Baptist for two years, agrees.
After Cooper received a letter from the city asking her to “vacate and cease operations” by Sept, 30, she started searching for a new office, But what she pays to have a private office with a waiting area at First Baptist every week would only cover one and a half days of rent in Palo Alto’s commercial areas, she said, That means she likely won’t be able to continue serving clients in Palo Alto, “I’m not the only one who’s running across this freed studio pro pointe shoes problem, Office space is hard to get,” Cooper said, “We just can’t compete with venture capitalists and software companies.”..
Cooper moved to the First Baptist location from Menlo Park to be closer to her clients, many of whom live or go to school in Palo Alto. The church’s proximity to Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School and Castilleja School means students can easily walk or bike to her office after class. Cooper said she could raise her rates, but that would only hurt her clients — children and teenagers with anxiety and depression — who already struggle with long waits for counseling services in Silicon Valley.
If Cooper doesn’t find a new office soon, she will be forced to refer some clients to other therapists because they can’t have a lapse in services, Ideally, clients would get three to six months of notice, she said, The city’s code enforcement division allowed freed studio pro pointe shoes Cooper, Jennifer Merrill and Joellen Werne, the other medical services providers with offices at First Baptist, until Sept, 30 to comply, Other First Baptist tenants have less time, The iSing Girl Choir, Tuesday Night Tango, Bisheh Toddler Class, Chinese Global Artist Association, Resounding Achord, Moveable Feet, Peninsula Folk Dance Council, Stanford Folk Dance and Tango Argentina have 30 days from when they receive the city’s notice to comply..
The city asked Palo Alto Philharmonic to cease all events unless it applies and gets approval for special events or temporary use at the church. The letter from code enforcement officer James Stephens states that the city’s R-1 residential zoning designation is “intended to create, preserve and enhance areas suitable for detached dwellings with a strong presence of nature and with open area affording maximum privacy.”. The “intensity of activity” at the church is not compatible with the neighborhood’s zoning, according to Stephens’ letter.
Pastor Mixon said the city’s zoning is outdated and officials should consider changing its “very narrow” definition of what a church is and how a church functions today, He said the church is seeking various remedies, such as an appeal or legal action, The city’s actions toward First Baptist could set a precedent for many other churches in the city that operate the same way in residential neighborhoods, Mixon said, Planning Director Hillary Gitelman said the city’s enforcement actions are complaint-based and freed studio pro pointe shoes notices have not been sent to any other churches..
Some residents who live near First Baptist, such as Sarah Burgess, say the church’s zoning violations have led to more traffic and to parking shortages. “We bought our house 25 years ago around the corner from a church and we thought it was lovely,” Burgess said. “But no one in the neighborhood bought a house from a school or a community center.”. Tim and Margie Cain, who have lived three houses away from the church for more than 25 years, said it has been difficult to find parking and the constant vehicular traffic on a bike boulevard used by many students is an “accident waiting to happen.”.
Burgess and the Kanes made their remarks during a Planning and Transportation Commission meeting in June, Planning and Transportation commissioners decided at the meeting to uphold Gitelman’s decision that one of First Baptist’s tenants, the New Mozart School of Music, does not qualify for a conditional use permit to continue operating there, Gitelman decided in April that the independent music school is not a “private educational facility,” which are permitted in R-1 districts, and is more “appropriately defined as a personal service,” which freed studio pro pointe shoes is not permitted..