Asian Order Wants YMCA Building

Times Staff Writer

A religious organization wants to buy the YMCA building at Main and Almansor streets and turn it into a cultural center to help promote better understanding among the city’s residents. But the proposal from the Mission of TaoConfucianism has created friction in the community.

Despite opposition from condominium owners who live near the YMCA, the Planning Commission voted 8 to 1 this week to approve permits and a zoning change that would allow the center to open. The proposal still must be approved by the City Council at its October 16 meeting.

The mission wants to offer language and philosophy classes and recreational activities at its proposed American Asian Cultural Center. In its articles of incorporation, the mission described its purpose as preaching and advancing the teachings of Taoism and Confucianism. The center would enable Americans and Asians to increase their understanding of each other, mission officials said in papers filed with the city.

Nearby residents told the commission members that they feared parking and noise problems and possible decreases in their property values.

“We already have major traffic,” said Beverly Martorano, who has lived for 16 years a few blocks from the YMCA. “We already have parking problems.”


However, spokesmen for the mission and the YMCA, which plans to move to a new facility in Almansor Park, said that the proposal would actually improve the parking situation because the number of parking spaces at the site would be increased from 30 to 60.

The residents also complained that the city had failed to give them adequate information or notice about changing the zoning on the site from residential to commercial.

“We were never presented with the true facts out front,” said Harvey Elkin, chairman of the 40-member Alhambra Town House Assn. Approximately 30 of the association members, most of whom are retired, have signed a petition against the proposal.

But Assistant City Manager David Carmany said that the notice, sent to nearby residents 10 days before the commission hearing as required by law, stated that details of the proposal were available at City Hall and that citizens could submit written responses.