Hindu temple project moves ahead in North County, despite protests

Escondido's Board of Supervisors meets to discuss a controversial Hindu temple project.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Construction of a Hindu temple will soon begin near Escondido, as the Board of Supervisors Wednesday voted unanimously to deny neighbors’ request to halt the project.

Community members filed an appeal after the county Planning Commission in February approved a major land use permit for the proposed Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation temple project. They were concerned that the temple may increase traffic and have a “negative impact on community character.”

Their arguments on Wednesday concerned disparate topics such as the project’s proximity to a groundwater source, the landscaping, the number of people who were notified of the project and alleged inconsistencies in county staff reports which recommended the board vote to move forward with the project.

The temple will be built on 10 acres of a vacant 19-acre plot north of and adjacent to Old San Pasqual Road and south of State Route 78. The land is in an unincorporated area between Escondido and San Diego’s San Pasqual Valley.

“This is an issue of noncompatibility in this semi-rural agricultural area,” said neighbor Hiram Andrade. “This should not be the activity presented as you’re entering the San Pasqual Valley area.”

But the supervisors were unanimous in their view that county staff had abided by all laws and regulations in approving the project.

Supervisor Ron Roberts suggested that some of the opposition may have come from those unfamiliar with Hinduism. The religion is the most widely practiced one in India and many Hindus in San Diego are of Indian descent.

“I don’t think that because we have trouble pronouncing people’s names that’s a reason to turn down a project,” Roberts said.