Frequently Asked Questions
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It is a 2-story Vietnamese Buddhist pagoda. Many people mistakenly assume it is a Thai temple because of the name.
The Vietnamese name, Tu Viện Cảnh Thái, evokes the image of a quiet meditation center. It should have been named instead Thiền Viện Cảnh Thái (pagoda or community center) to more accurately reflect the busy intended activities. Speculatively, the head monk wished to brand his place as a serious, uncommon monastery.
Click here for the breakdown from the 2010 Census for the 95148 zip code. Source: http://www.census.gov
Racially, the zip-code area is predominantly Asian (60%), but also a little bit White (24%).
Ethnically, Hispanics/Latinos comprise 26%. Vietnamese comprise 23% of the population of Evergreen. Many Vietnamese Buddhists oppose the Canh Thai Temple development. Thus the charge that White Christians are opposing foreigners they fear is not based on reality.
The real story here is that money makes the world go 'round. Speculatively, but based on many documents and opinions heard:
Around 2005, a twenty-something monk arrives from Vietnam to the Land of Milk and Honey. Master Thích Đức Huy's family back in Vietnam is reportedly in financial distress. Master Huy's ex-wife reports that he persuaded her to send $50,000 to Vietnam, an amount that she now considers to be lost money.
Master Huy goes through the motions of building a large temple, yet without the solid foundation that would contribute to success. With his apparent youthful charm and sincerity, he quickly builds a small following at a rented home, followed by the purchase in 2011 of the Evergreen Greenbelt property.
Throughout 2012 to 2014, without adequate funds to support their permit application, the organization needed to keep building up their base of followers. This required a place of meditation and events. But rather than rent another place, which would be an extra major expense, they decided instead to use their relatively large purchased land. Even after being confronted by the County with fines of $100/day (Sep 2012), they still calculated that the fine was a reasonable business expense in their efforts to build their base and to continue fundraising.
In short, they knowingly endured all of the following for more than three years, due to the need to build up and retain their following and to continue fundraising: County fines of $100/day; friction with neighbors; violations of laws.
This is the real story. The operators' claim of ignorance is a fiction. It is not possible to unknowingly amass 150 violations over a period of 3+ years.
If you have ever come across the "Broken Windows Theory", then you'll understand that neighborhood deterioration starts with physical disorder (unaddressed blight and illegalities). In addition to their unpermitted use, the Canh Thai Temple also brought to us chemical toilets, outdoor extension cords, tons of open debris and garbage, unabated weed, unsupervised noise, excessive hours of operation, unpaid property taxes, and trailer waste flowing to the surface of the site.
Also, importantly is that they harassed two neighbors openly and flagrantly. One neighbor was faced with mirror spells that faced her front door for most of 2014, followed in the next year by a dirty broken toilet placed as near as possible to her front door. Another neighbor saw tons of junk leaned against his property fence as he was selling to escape this neighbor. The junk on open display decreased his property value by an estimated 32%. For more information, please read our Media Release, section "Neighbors Versus Monk."
Neighborhoods deteriorate when good people move out and uncaring people move in. The neighbors, in this case, have not given up yet.
In addition to several churches nearby, there is also the Evergreen Islamic Center at 2486 Ruby Ave, 95148, 0.3 miles away. The Sikh Gurdwara of San Jose at 3636 Murillo Ave, 95148 is 2 miles way and is the largest Sikh temple in the United States.
It should be noted that both in the San Jose City and Santa Clara County (unincorporated) jurisdictions, the radius of notice for discretionary developments is 300 feet. Primary opposition comes from that close area, due to direct impact considerations. Lastly, it is factually incorrect to say that "the same people" who are opposing the Canh Thai Temple also opposed the Masajid and the Gurdwara. There is no overlap of individuals among the leadership group.
We who oppose the Canh Thai Temple would like to note that the Masajid and the Gurdwara have been model neighbors while the Canh Thai Temple has been careless at best. We are not prejudiced against people of different religions, and we hope that we are not treated with prejudice either.
The neighbors have been subjected to unpermitted large public assemblies for years, experiencing nuisances of noise, traffic, unsanitary waste runoff and blight. Additionally they have witnessed regular health violations, including a commercial kitchen and unauthorized chemical toilets lacking County inspections.
Last but not least, there are environmental issues that come with installing a relatively heavy use on a relatively small parcel within the San Jose Greenbelt. We have demonstrated to the County that they are taking acute risks of future contamination of the underground water. Our arguments are scientifically based and along the lines of land use criteria.
If our land-use arguments were invalid, it could be said that we are just finding excuses. To the contrary, we have heavily documented our arguments in order to remain as objective as possible.
Festivals that officially would allow up to 300 people, and unofficially more than 500, are obnoxious for a bedroom community. The Lunar New Year Festival is a three-day affair. The Mother's Day festival often includes music concerts. Funerals with ritual chanting are very noisy.
The stereotype projected upon us by Internet trolls is that we are insular, affluent and xenophobic, rejecting people who are not a white wealthy Christians like us. Elsewhere on this page is documentation that whites are only 24% of the zip-code (95148) area of the Temple.
Examination of an income map (near the corner of Tully Road and Ruby Ave) shows that this neighborhood is middle class and a little bit above average, but not as affluent as other parts of San Jose.
Lastly, Internet trolls' have claimed we are unfriendly people. Their claim is accepted by some readers, which then leaves a poor first impression. We suggest instead that others try to understand the story and determine whether our points about the Temple operation are justified or not. It seems unwise to stereotype people without meeting them.
In our view, the situation could be turned around overnight if the operator were to apply for an honest permit that reflects how they actually plan to use the site. An honest permit would disclose the following conditions, reflecting past operations and the operation of every other pagoda:
Had the operator submitted an honest application, they would have erased years of conflict, and it would have allowed every stakeholder to evaluate the use realistically. Instead, they chose to contrive "small electric tour buses" that do not exist; "refreshments" (finger-food only) to be served at services; absence of funeral services; and no need for chemical toilets for their regular days.
In doing so, they have set the stage for more years of predictable ongoing conflicts with neighbors.
Revocation of a church permit just does not happen. Revoking the permit for a horse stable, yes. But a church involves more than just the operators of the temple, it involves a whole built community. So no matter how naughty the operators are, the church will get one chance after another to fix their violations. That will mean endless violations, as the pre-permit period of the Canh Thai Temple has proven.