San Diego

Fight to Keep ‘Mega Church' Out of Del Cerro, Heats Up

Just recently, the city completed its Environmental Impact report detailing a proposed 54,476 square foot church and more than 71,000 sq. ft. parking structure and lo

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The City of San Diego is in the middle of the approval process for a proposed project, a congregation called All People’s Church.

The church purchased the vacant and overgrown lot, located where College Avenue meets Interstate 8. Just recently, the city completed its Environmental Impact Report (EIR) detailing a proposed 54,476 square foot church and more than 71,000 sq. ft. parking structure and lot. The church would have 900 seats, as well as room for offices, Sunday school programs and a gymnasium.

For a few years now, the opposition group Save Del Cerro has been voicing their concern over the traffic impact the project would have on the community.

After reading the more than 200-page EIR, Pastor Robert Herbert appeared pleased with the findings.

“There is no impact both for the neighborhood and for the highway getting off,” said Herbert.

Herbert said he believes and hopes the church will be a blessing to the area.

“I’m just hoping that by continuing to show up, by continuing to be kind. Continue to answer questions. Continue to go to meetings. That people will see that our heart is to serve the community,” said Herbert, who said he lived in Del Cerro previously.

Del Cerro resident and realtor Barbara Blakely is part of the opposition group Save Del Cerro. She is worried the church will change the feel of the community, for the worst.

“That says to me that you’re not expecting a few cars here and there. You’re not expecting just a little bit of traffic. That’s going to have a huge impact on our ability to get in and out of Del Cerro and to get in and out of our homes.”

Blakely also feels Herbert mislead the residents.

“That’s not what we were pitched. So I feel like we got a bait and switch to jump onboard with the idea,” said Blakely.

The church bought the land after it was approved for single-family residential use that included the construction of up to 24 homes. That did not sit well with Blakely and others, suspicious of the timeline. They were hoping it would stay available for residential buildings, as was planned prior, given the current housing crisis.

Herbert said there’s also a church building shortage too. He feels churches, and places of worship are the foundation of a community.

“Providing community and help and benefit and counseling and mentoring, ” said Herbert.

All People’s Church launched fifteen years ago and has locations across the world.

While the city continues with the approval process, Save Del Cerro is hoping to convince enough city council members on their side to stop it. They have been encouraging as many people as possible to voice their concerns during the public comment period following a release of an EIR, per protocol.

“I believe the pastor will bless his people, when and where and how that occurs. But it doesn’t have to be a 900-seat sanctuary on a plot of land that is ill-suited for that size and scope of a project,” said Blakely.

The church, a tenant at the current San Diego headquarters will have to move out as the building is in the process of being sold, Herbert told NBC 7.

The project has been labeled a "mega-church." Herbert told NBC 7 that a megachurch is a congregation of 2,000 people or more. All People's Church has 1,000, according to Herbert.

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