Oakland Buddhist Temple Will Have Larger Space in Richmond (Calif.)

January 9, 2004

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/0 1/09/EBG1244F571.DTL

On January 9, 2004 the San Francisco Chronicle reported, "In late November, after a 10-year hunt for a larger space, the [Lao Rattanaram Temple's] board of directors closed the deal to buy a church at Barrett Avenue near Richmond's civic center. The Jan. 17 move [from Oakland to Richmond] means a bigger and better space for the temple and, hopefully, a spiritual boost for Richmond's large Lao community...The temple's West Oakland location has never been convenient to its 1,300 members, most of whom live in the Richmond area...Though the Richmond church's price tag of $1.2 million was double the price of some locations the monks looked at, Oun Thavonekham, the temple's current president, said the building's parking lot and zoning laws were worth it. Because the six monks live full-time at the temple, it has to be zoned as both a residential and a commercial space. The new space is already zoned as both, and will not require a special permit for the temple to fulfill its duties in the community. Lao Rattanaram Temple has run into zoning trouble in the past. In the mid- 1990s, the temple purchased a large, historic residence on the outskirts of Pinole. Though the house, known as the Downer Mansion, sits alone atop a hill on a large property, the building's residential zoning did not allow large ceremonies on site. According to David Dowswell, city planner in Pinole at the time, the surrounding community was "very concerned" about the impact of the temple's activities on the neighborhood."