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Palo Alto Cracks Down On Neighborhood Churches

The city of Palo Alto is cracking down on churches that are trying to cut costs by subletting their space.

The clock is ticking for one church, which has been told all its tenants have to get out in a few weeks, or face severe fines.

The First Baptist Church has been on the same street corner in Palo Alto, serving the poor and needy, for 125 years.

But after a brief, informal meeting with city code enforcement officers earlier this year, Pastor Rick Mixon suddenly got a sternly worded letter from the city, telling him he must cease all non-religious activities, and that his tenants, which include a music school, a psychologist, and the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, to get out by August 17 or face severe fines.

Mixon said, “In order to operate here, to keep it looking good, looking nice in a nice neighborhood, we need to rent the space. It represents about a third of our budget right now.”

For years, the church has rented the space on the second floor to music classes, choirs, dance clubs, and hosted dinners and weddings.
     — Kiet Do

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