If you’ve been by the parish at all in the last months, you have noticed that all the construction going on next door has spilled into our parking lot. I thought I’d take a moment to update you on the history of the process and how things are progressing.
To increase the seminary’s endowment, the archbishop, the seminary board and the seminary administration decided to develop St. John’s lemon and avocado groves. They hired Shea Homes to manage the project. This decision affects the parish, as the development borders our campus on two sides.
In the early planning stages architects determined that the best road entrance to the new homes lay immediately west of our property. The city planners foresaw traffic problems if our old exit entered Upland Road right next to Arboleda, the new road. Either the plans for the development had to change, or our entrance needed to move. The archdiocese requested that we cooperate with Shea’s plans and reroute our western exit onto the new road, assisting the development, for the seminary’s sake.
Shea Homes agreed to reconfigure our front parking lot and replant our borders. In compensation for the inconvenience and the extended period of disorder, they also agreed to provide the curbing and paving for an extension to our parking lot in the back of our campus. You will remember our gravel overflow that we only used on holidays! It is currently being developed into an additional parking lot for us. The parish is financially responsible only for lighting and planting the back lot.
These developments will lead to some changes. Our eastern exit will remain the same. However, when we use our rerouted western exit, from our parking lot, we will make a left onto Arboleda using two lanes. We will then come to the new signal they have put in, giving us the opportunity to turn either right or left onto Upland. If you recall, the island in the middle of Upland formerly prevented anything but right hand turns from our old western exit. So this is a positive. This new configuration will also allow car access, for those travelling east on Upland. We will be able to use a left hand turn lane at Arboleda, off of Upland, with a left turn arrow. This should be a marked improvement for us. On the down side, we will lose 4 spaces in the front, but will gain around 70 spaces in the back.
I hope that in the fall, we can resurface the entire church parking with funds coming from the archdiocesan Called to Renew funds. This might be complicated by the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders affecting churches. The archdiocese has made a blanket request of all parishes that we delay all major capital expenses due to the decrease in parish incomes. We will have to see if those funds are still available to us in the months ahead.
Whenever the resurfacing happens, we will be able to add more handicapped spaces in close to the church, the parish offices and the Serra Center. We have needed to do this for some time. We already have the number of handicapped spaces required by the city, but the number is insufficient for the actual number of handicapped parishioners, who arrive early for Mass, only to find every handicapped space already occupied. Since handicapped spaces absorb three regular spaces to make two handicapped spaces, and since city codes require us to maintain a certain number of regular spaces, we had to wait until the construction of additional parking in the back of our property, behind the church.
At this time, both projects are in progress. I am uncertain when they will be completed. It should only be a matter of another month, maybe two. In a certain graced way, the vastly reduced numbers present for Mass, due to the pandemic, has made this less catastrophic a change than I first thought…though the pandemic is calamitous enough.