A county court in California dismissed a lawsuit in October that could have kept a Los Angeles–area church from moving into an old YMCA building.
The YMCA in Thousand Oaks, Calif., sold its facility to a nonprofit foundation that intended to lease it to Godspeak Calvary Chapel, pastored by Thousand Oaks Councilman Rob McCoy. The Dos Vientos Community Preservation Association sued the city of Thousand Oaks for allowing the sale and renovation, according to Liberty Counsel, which represents the city and church.
Liberty Counsel reports that the case was an example of religious discrimination and pointed out that the association did not take issue with the Chabad synagogue located in the same business complex, adding, “Only a handful of people are behind the association who are adamantly opposed to a Christian church in the area.”
The YMCA decided to close due to declining membership and annual operating losses, the Ventura County Star reported in December. At a Thousand Oaks City Council meeting that month, local real estate agent Raymi Schwartz said the opposition wasn’t about religion. “We are a very inclusive community, a very diverse community and we don’t want anything up here that only one type of being can go to,” she said. Other speakers said they wanted another fitness organization to move into the building instead. City Attorney Tracy Noonan responded that the sale was between two private organizations, and “the city is not involved in that.”
A Ventura County judge dismissed the case because the plaintiffs did not complete procedural requirements for complaints. They have a chance to refile before Oct. 17. Liberty Counsel said if that happens, its attorneys will review the case and will likely file another motion to dismiss. —Rachel Lynn Aldrich