Temecula: Mosque Has Been Approved
After months of heated argument and vitriolic anti-Muslim agitation and Islamophobia the mosque in Temecula has been approved.
Opponents of the 24,943-square-foot mosque have stated plans to appeal the decision to the City Council over concerns on traffic and the politics tied to the association to Islam.
The commissioners unanimously voted on the mosque proposed by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley. The mosque will be built in two phases in a rural area along Nicolas Road near Chaparral High School.
“The project has met all the conditions placed before them and in fact has exceeded them,” said commissioner Ron Guerriero.
The group has spent years praying inside a small industrial building on Rio Nedo near Old Town Temecula. The commission was not voting on the merits of religion rather on whether there would be any violations of city codes, especially traffic, if approved. The mosque requires a conditional-use permit.
The staff report states the traffic analysis shows the mosque would have less than significant impact to the roads in the area. The group would need to add two-way left turn lane at the eastbound direction at Nicolas Road and Calle Colibri.
The study further states that the intersections of Winchester and Nicolas roads and Winchester and Margarita Roads are already operating under a less than satisfactory level of service. The traffic study states congestion in the area will ease with the implementation of a city-wide electronic traffic monitoring system, which officials expect to be running by April 2011.
The mosque will have two entrances – both along Calle Colibri.
The mosque will build 104 parking spaces for phase one. The first phase will include a 4,157 square foot building that houses a prayer hall and storage area. The second phase will add to the prayer hall with a 20,786 square foot two-story expansion. The center will build additional parking spaces for a total of 181.
The buildings will have two minarets that will blend with the Mediterranean architecture of the mosque. The minarets will not be taller than the highest point of the main building.
The public hearing on the proposal started at 6:30 p.m. The city opened up two rooms for over-flow crowds with sound from the meeting piped in.
The commissioners listened to impassioned pleas from both sides until 11 p.m. Through out the night, residents shouted, applauded and even booed during speeches. Chairman Carl Carey had to warn the crowd a dozen times and used his gavel to maintain order.
Opponents of the project focused at first on traffic issues.
Laura Scott said she is not against the center but concerned about the lack of infrastructure.
“Nicolas Road can’t support any facility of this magnitude,” she said. “This is a double lane road, poorly maintained with potholes. Don’t decide on this proposal until Nicolas Road has been expanded.”
Other opponents requested the traffic study be redone at a different time in the day and also do a thorough study of traffic at mosques in other counties.
Comments quickly turned toward fear of Islamic extremism coming to Temecula and the mosque being used for extremist camps.
“Islam is not a religion but a political ideology,” said Amy Pina. “This is about the survival of the United States.”
Proponents called the fears unsubstantiated and pointed to the fact that there have been no problems with the Islamic Center.
“I know there is a lot of fear here in this room,” said Rebecca Al-Ghizawi, a member of the Temecula Women’s Islamic Center. “These people stand up and say its about traffic then sit down and mumble about how Islam will take over this country. It has a name: institutional prejudice. I hope this commission does not hold this against us.”
In the end, the commissioners said they were ashamed by some of the statements and said the project met the conditions.
“As a citizen I can say I was flabbergasted by the rhetoric I heard tonight,” said commissioner John Telesio. “Ignorance of the facts breeds fear. Fear breeds hatred. Unfortunately I saw a lot of that today.”
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