There’s a sob story on Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/15569323 ) about a Hare Krishna splinter congregation which, since losing its lease to its storefront temple space, is holding services in an apartment.
The Huffington Post is showing the video after a couple of introductory paragraphs:
Hidden Temple In East Village Serves As Makeshift Hare Krishna Center (VIDEO)
Followers who call themselves the Iskcon Revival Movement broke off from the mainstream movement and founded their own temple on St Marks Place in 1999. “We’re not welcome, simply put, in the temples,” says Vani Wulfhoop, a founder of the East Village temple. But less than a year later, the the Iskcon Revival Movement lost their lease. . . .
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So I’ve posted the following comment on both Web pages: “It’s illegal, unethical, and unsafe to convert a NYC residential apartment into a temple, just as it would be to turn it into a church, synagogue, or mosque.”
If you agree with me and would like to help—for all the other comments are uncritically supportive—please add your own thoughts on either or both pages. (Login required for each one, sorry!)
Short story, it’s up to city zoning laws and the property owners/property managers.
Running an actual “congregation” out of an apartment is not allowed by *most* zoning laws, just as running a business out of an apartment is not allowed by most zoning laws.
This is mostly because of parking issues. If you are in a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood and your dwelling is zoned for both commercial and residential use, or “mixed use” it may not be an issue as long as the property OWNER is OK with it, and parking is agreed upon.
However, people are free to hold a religious “get together” or “club” such as a bible study group, religious party (happy whatever your holiday) etc. This is personal residential use and if your apartment building or condo or co-op allows for a large get together and you have plenty of guest parking available, then so be it.
The difference here is between hosting an actual church headquarters and religious services VS. a “bible study club” or get together. There is sometimes a fine line and people try to push the limits of the zoning laws or not tell the truth about their activities.
There are plenty of neighborhoods that allow religious services in homes as long as people apply for a permit and limit the number of people. There are some towns with no zoning regulations about it at all.
If I’m missing the boat, please inform me. But this sounds a lot like you just don’t like people gathering in their own private property for religious reasons, and you’re using a pretty pointless law to try and stop them.
I’m not defending their views, but people have a right to free assembly, and if they can’t afford a church, an apartment may just have to do. That is a fundamental protection granted to US citizens.
I don’t care whether they’re gathering to worship or gathering to hold an aerobics class. Both are going to bother the neighbors and create parking issues. It’s all up to city zoning and the property owner.
To be blunt Jules, I’m what you can call a 1st Amendment absolutist. I don’t think you can use any means in good form that makes it legally impossible for a group to assemble. If you want to take their religious meeting place away from them, there had best be a suitable place that meets their economic needs as a ready substitute.
Parking, or any other issues are not even a distant second to these rights.
They are covered by ‘freedom of assembly’ in our Constitution. The Fire marshall can step in, however, and dictate how many people can congregate safely in one place. If people are double parking or creating a nuisance, the police can step in and make the cars move along. Outside of those measures, I doubt there is anything that can be done.
If they own the property, it is their right to do with it what they like
Jules is right: this is in fact false, and it has nothing to do with religion per se. Zoning laws are typically quite strict about what they are allowed to do with their property. Clearly there is a distinction to be made between having a few friends over for a religious service of some kind, and opening a church, temple or mosque. Just as there is a distinction between having friends over to dinner and opening a restaurant. Or having friends over to charades and opening a theater.
I don’t know the specifics, but I’m sure people with a background in zoning laws could outline for us how to make the distinction.
Still seems to me like these folks are being cherry-picked for zoning issues because of their religion.
In the area where I’m from, people have (for lack of a better term) “Artist Co-Ops.” These are not official Co-Ops, they are just groups of artists who live together. They will make food and charge money to get a plate and see some of the work in progress.
Is this an illegal restaurant or a gallery? I know for a fact they don’t have a sales tax or a business permit and they live in a residential area.
Six people in a house full of silks and statues which would be there anyway, does not a temple make.
Frankly, I find zoning laws to be mostly stupid. Particularly when it comes to small businesses and small gatherings, commercial or otherwise.
Zoning laws are violated constantly and are generally a political means of having laws “enforced” where there are no laws. I’d love to have a city inspector come to that entire building and check all the apartments. I bet you’d have numerous “violations” in the building that no one cares about.
Much seems to be the case here, but selective enforcement of a law with a convenient outcome is not justice. It is, by definition tyranny. I don’t care if the zoning laws tell you it is okay to be a tyrant, that doesn’t make it right.
Well, in my clearly unpopular opinion, the 1st Amendment comes first each and every time.
Unless you’re prepared to out everyone from that apartment building for ALL of the zoning violations that can be found, don’t even start. Because you’re nothing more than a selective enforcement bully flying the intolerance flag high.
My mother is a realtor, so I have some second hand experience with this. Many buildings are not up to code, and it only matters if the inspector decides to take issue with it.
Hence my mention before about about enforcing non-existent laws. Your ousting has more to do with political power than legal fair treatment, which stinks to non-existent high heaven every single time it is dragged out from the McCarthy-era coffin it sleeps in.
I promise you, any person here could have a “zoning issue” brought against their personal dwelling if an inspector was motivated enough.
This is a representation of the worst kind of intolerance. Twisting a law in the name of bullying a destitute group for their religious beliefs.
If you’re not going to have every single apartment in that building inspected for “code issues” you have nowhere to hide from the just charge of discrimination.
I could care less if they’re religious nutjobs, they don’t deserve to be bullied, and if I lived closer, I’d help defend them personally.
But I suspect it would be different if this was a destitute group of immigrant artists, or philosophers, or atheists who were thrown out on the street for a zoning issue.
You can dress discrimination up in many costumes, but you can always find the stink of it if you get close enough.
Please don’t mischaracterize my position. I am a firm believer in the First Amendment. I live in CA, and do not know the laws of NYC. I have a feeling that if I tried to open a church OR business in my very residential neighborhood, the zoning officials would be breathing down my back in an effort to close it down. In NYC (I think), most of the city proper is mixed business/residential. I do not know what the laws are. That is the only position I am taking.
It is not you asanta, I make no claims to your perspective.
Essentially, I think this sort of thing amounts to a poll tax.
“See, blacks are free to vote, they just need to pay the poll tax. This isn’t racism!”
Yeah right, unjust laws enforced at the discretion of people trying to do away with an popular group cannot be called justice. My gorge rises at the idea.
I don’t care if they’re in violation of ALL the zoning laws. If you’re not going to hold everyone in the building to that standard, you’re a coward wearing the selective enforcement uniform.
Again, I’m not bashing any one person. I’m saying laws are being wrenched out of purpose to provide the means of discrimination. Something I don’t think anyone here would agree with.
Gay marriage may not fit into most states laws, but I still support it and with go tooth and nail with anyone who wants to deprive the rights of two adults to enter into a willing and cognisant private contract together (which is all marriage is anyway).
Please don’t mistake my passion for blind rage.
When justice gets misused, I can’t find myself on the side of the manipulators, no matter how eloquent, or “legal” their arguments may be.