By Brian Park

A new amendment to the municipal code will clarify San Juan’s definition of a “church,” after the City Council approved revisions Tuesday, June 6. The previous definition of “religious, fraternal or nonprofit organizations” included churches, temples, synagogues and other similar structures, but it did not provide any guidelines to clearly distinguish them. The new definition of a church is partly taken from that of the city of Rancho Cucamonga, after San Juan city staff researched several other cities’ municipal codes.

The code amendment is nearly six months in the making. The change was prompted after residents Chuck and Stephanie Fromm filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court because they were cited and fined for hosting weekly Bible studies at their 4,700-square-foot home on Branding Iron Road that regularly drew up to 50 people.

Regular gatherings that exceed 50 people will still require a conditional-use permit. Two warnings can result in a citation.

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