ENCINITAS — The infamous yurt at Yoga Swami is schedule to close Dec. 9 due to city code violations. Measuring just 27 feet in diameter and 557 total square footage, the yurt is located in the back lot of the Yoga Swami building on South Highway 101.
According to owner Dawn Singer, the city gave the business verbal permission to erect the large tent in 2005.
Approximately two months ago SDG&E was upgrading metering system, so Yoga Swami had to update electrical systems to comply. Shortly thereafter Singer received a notice of violation for having the unpermitted structure on the property.
The notice requires several things to happen in order to come into compliance with current city code. Planning Director Patrick Murphy said the structure did not have a permit and was not in compliance with the city’s building codes. “You have to have a permit for these things and go through the proper channels,” he said.
Because the yurt is not an average structure, Singer said the notice provides an opportunity to expand the code to include environmentally sustainable buildings.
“I think the deeper issue is eco-conscious building practices,” Singer said. While she respects the city staff and their roles in protecting the public, she said there is no need to take down the yurt out of fear. “They are uninformed and I think I should educate them,” she said, referring to city officials.
“The current codes don’t reflect sustainable building,” Singer said. “The yurt is considered a sacred space by so many people,” she said. “It is literally legalizing sustainability.”
The yurt has a light footprint according to Singer and complies with fabrication requirements for safety. The fire department has not inspected the yurt to Singer’s knowledge.
“The city’s recommendations are not made from anyone who has come and experienced the yurt,” she said. Two code enforcement officers inspected the yurt and agreed that it did not fit into any of the usual building codes according to Singer.
“I see this as an impetus for code changes,” Singer said. She encouraged city staff to meet together in the yurt. “Time is of the essence.”
Without some intervention, the yurt will be closed to the dismay of many yoga practitioners. “It is one of the only places that has donation-based classes,” said Shelby Barnes, an Encinitas resident and yoga practitioner. “I think that while it’s a good opportunity to educate the city about green building, it’s too bad that it has to come at the expense of the yurt.”
Simultaneously, there is a potential sale of the land to the Christian Science Reading Room.
“I feel an immense responsibility to the creating of a miracle in this community because the space is so sacred for so many,” Singer said. There are several petitions circulating and a group of supporters plan to speak at the next City Council meeting.