Church challenge

Opponents of a massive proposed church in Granite Bay have filed a lawsuit challenging the controversial project, which was approved Nov. 20 by the Placer County Board of Supervisors.

The Bayside Covenant Church would be a 94,500-square-foot facility in its first phase alone, with the door open for a possible second phase that would add an additional 78,500 square feet to the site.

“The largest church in the community is 20,000 square feet. There is nothing to justify this church being five times larger,” said Granite Bay resident Diane Wells, one of dozens of residents opposed to the size and scope of the project.

They said that a major regional church proposed for the corner of Sierra College Boulevard and Cavitt Stallman Road just isn’t appropriate in a community of less than 20,000 souls. Wills stresses that community members are not opposed to the site being used as a church; they only request it remain a community church.

Opponents struggled with the decision and funding needed to challenge the county’s decision in court, waiting until the last minute to meet the filing deadline of 30 days from the original action.

“Enough community members are not supportive of what [the Board] approved, so legal action [is the] next step,” Wills said. A court date has not been set but will probably fall in January.

Sacramento’s man in the state Assembly, Darrell Steinberg, just keeps racking up the accolades for his seminal work in the area of mental health.

Steinberg, Gov. Gray Davis and California’s first lady Sharon Davis were recently recognized by the Mental Health Association of California for their commitment to expanding community-based mental health programs.

That support has translated into more than 1,000 previously homeless mentally ill adults getting off the streets and into treatment. In the first year alone, Steinberg’s Assembly Bill 34 programs saved taxpayers $20 million in decreased incarcerations and hospitalizations.

Between now and 2003, the governor has authorized $54.9 million annually to expand the three original pilot projects, of which Sacramento was one, to 24 additional counties. Sacramento will receive $5.2 million each year.

The funding is widely seen as the state’s first committed effort in 30 years to fund community-based mental health programs, a landmark change that the Mental Health Association attributed to Steinberg’s tireless efforts to shepherd legislation through the Legislature.