Members of the Neighborhood Church in Bishop want to build a fellowship hall and gym. They point to tough times for kids and the need for guidance, but Bishop Planning Commissioners pointed to parking riddles as their reason to say no to the church.
About 50 people filled the seats in the Council Chambers while Commissioners heard information about the request for a Conditional Use Permit to add on to the church.
Reports revealed that the current church was built in the 80s in the residential zone on East South St. A dirt lot owned by DWP provides parking and so do nearby streets. Church officials said the new building would not be used during Sunday church services and no additional people or cars were expected. Even so, parking surfaced as the obstacle.
Bishop Mayor Frank Crom and his wife Virginia, who live next door to the church, took the role of strong opposition. Although the Neighborhood Church was approved and built in 1980, Crom said a residential area is not the place for a church. He criticized the parking situation and said some day DWP will take away the permit for the lot, which has been in the name of the church for a reported 32 years.
Ironically, LADWP also owns most or all of the City of Bishop’s parking lots as well as City Park, not to mention the land under many businesses and churches throughout the Bishop area.
Others objected to the presence of a church next to homes. Church members, like Mammoth Police officer Jesse Gorham, praised the work done by church officials, particularly youth programs that have turned lives around.
Commissioners seemed decided on their objection – not enough guaranteed parking. All but one named parking as the snag in the plans. They voted 6 to 1 to deny the Conditional Use Permit. The church can appeal to the City Council.
Observers at the meeting commented that the Church was “out-politicked by the Mayor” and others.