SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- There was thunderous applause after a unanimous vote by the city council, approving San Jose's newest Buddhist temple.
"It's just pure joy for the whole community of Cambodians," said Lyna Lam of A Khmer Buddhist Foundation.
The temple will be located in the city's Evergreen neighborhood.
It will become the largest Buddhist place of worship in the Bay Area and will be a new gathering place for the region's Cambodian population.
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Lam helped finance the project.
She says once completed, the property will house not just a temple but also a community center -- place to celebrate and spread Cambodian culture.
"It's not just a religion for us, but it's a way of life," Lam said.
Lam says the current community has outgrown the present spaces where they gather.
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They're often times temples that are converted from old houses.
She tells ABC7 News the new site will finally give the local Cambodian population a real home.
"The function of the temple is to preserve, to teach and to practice our religion," Lam said.
The project has been in the works for over four years.
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Over that time, it's run into challenges with several members of the neighborhood who didn't want it to go ahead.
During public comment at city council's Tuesday meeting, some came out to make their voices heard.
"It's just not compatible with the area. I know, Mr. Mayor, you ran on a platform of common sense, and it's just not common sense to have a large, commercial facility in a neighborhood like this," said one neighbor.
When it opens, Lam says the temple will take steps to ensure it acts as a good neighbor.
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She says it will always be a place that's open and welcoming to all.
"Everyone is welcome. It is like that now and it will be like that then," Lam said.
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