El Sobrante Sikh Temple Expansion Plans Progress, But Neighbors Still Concerned

September 7, 2008

Author: Tom Lochner

Source: West County Times


After almost a decade of fine-tuning, a plan to expand El Sobrante's Sikh temple to about four times its present size is ready — or almost — to go before the Contra Costa County Planning Commission. But some neighbors seem no more ready to accept the plan than they were when temple leaders first floated it nine years ago.

Gurdwara Sahib, the Sikh Center of San Francisco Bay Area, wants to add a 33,000-square-foot community center, a 30,500-square-foot performing arts center with a 400-seat auditorium and classrooms, a 6,000-square-foot museum, two priests' residences and a two-story parking garage on its approximately 6.5-acre spread off Hillcrest Road in unincorporated El Sobrante; about a quarter of the property lies in the adjacent city of Richmond.

The existing temple is about 22,000 square feet and includes the worship hall as well as offices, prayer rooms and a dining hall.

Leaders envision the expanded temple complex as a regional center of Sikh scholarship and worship. Even in its present form, the temple — with its five golden domes and perched on a hillside — has become a prominent West Contra Costa visual landmark and has brought recognition to El Sobrante, at least among North America's growing Sikh community.

Some neighbors take a less global view of the temple, warning that its expansion could significantly impact their safety, quality of life and property values.