L.A. NOW

Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Temecula approves mosque after contentious 8-hour hearing

The Temecula City Council early Wednesday morning unanimously approved a proposed mosque after a marathon eight-hour hearing that seesawed from vitriolic rants from residents castigating Muslims as terrorists to interfaith leaders praising the peaceful virtues of Islam.

 

La-me-temecula-mosqueIn the end, the council’s decision was made solely based on mundane issues such as traffic, parking and environmental impacts, with the council agreeing that the project exceeded all legal requirements for approval.

The vote came at 3:34 a.m. after the council sat patiently into the wee morning hours listening to  testimony from residents, largely a replay of the months of debate over the mosque. More than 110 people signed up to testify, though some drifted away after sitting through six hours of speakers.

“This was a democratic republic at its best," said Councilwoman Maryann Edwards. Plans by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley to build a 24,943-square-foot mosque on a vacant 4-acre plot in northeastern  Temecula, next to a Baptist church, have been attacked by opponents who have said the mosque will attract Islamic extremists and overwhelm the neighborhood with traffic congestion and noise.

The city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved the project in early December, and opponents appealed that ruling to the City Council, which held a packed public hearing on the project starting about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

“This is a great day for all of Temecula, really," said Imam Mohamoud Harmoush of the Islamic Center. “Now I think we must again devote ourselves to reaching out to the community."

Dozens of residents, and speakers from as far away as Los Angeles and Hesperia, voiced their opposition to the center. Most of the criticism focused on the potential traffic congestion that the mosque may create on neighborhood streets, although city planners said an independent traffic study showed the center would have minimal effects.

Other speakers hurled visceral attacks against Islam, warning that the mosque would serve as a strategic foothold for extremists bent on undercutting America’s values and laws.

"If you want to come here and not abide by our laws, you can just turn around and find another place to live," said Amy Pina, 42, of Temecula. Just as many residents, including dozens of Muslims living in the Temecula Valley, condemned those attacks as bigoted vitriol born of an ignorance of Islamic beliefs.

“We are not terrorists. We are victims of terrorists … we are victims of fear," Suhail Fares told the council.

Early in the hearing, City Atty. Peter Thorson told council members that they could only consider land-use issues when reviewing the project and that to base any decision on religious, political or social factors would violate freedom of religion under the 1st Amendment.

The mosque and center reflect a Mediterranean design seen in many Temecula neighborhoods, though the building will have traditional domes topped with crescent moons. The facility will be built in two stages, with the first limited to a 4,100-square-foot mosque to serve about 150 Muslim families living in Temecula, Murrieta and surrounding communities.

The Islamic Center, which has existed for years in a warehouse in one of Temecula’s industrial areas, bought the property for the proposed mosque 10 years ago and has been raising money to build the facility ever since. The Planning Commission’s approval of the mosque was appealed to the City Council by Temecula resident George Rombach, president of a group called Concerned American Citizens.

Rombach during the hearing accused city officials of giving the Islamic Center preferential treatment and said the proposed mosque violated restrictions on parking, environmental impacts and generating traffic. City planning officials dismissed those allegations, saying the city acted properly and the proposed mosque met all legal requirements.

Rombach said he hadn’t decided whether to file a legal challenge to the city’s decision.

"I’m still weighing my options," he said.

RELATED:

Temecula residents square off over proposed mosque

Temecula City Council set to vote on proposed mosque

Proposed Temecula mosque wins planning commission approval

-- Phil Willon in Temecula

 
Comments () | Archives (78)

The City Council rest be assured that building the Temecula Mosque did not create any traffic or other problems. Much of the United States, the biggest congregation in the Mosques was on FRIDAY while the remaining days there were not very many worshipers attending, so why worried about? There were, of course, certain exceptions that some didn't like it, but majority had no problem having a Mosque in the area next to a church.

America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom and tolerance. As a Jewish-American, I believe Americans of the Muslim faith deserve the same freedom, respect and opportunity to reap the full benefits of our society as do Americans of any faith. What's shocking to me is that there was any doubt at all about whether this mosque should be built. Let freedom ring in Temecula, let it ring in California, and throughout this great nation, as we stand united in protecting the religious freedoms of ALL Americans.
Michael Dubrow
Santa Barbara

RE: City Atty. Peter Thorson told council members that they could only consider land-use issues when reviewing the project and that to base any decision on religious, political or social factors would violate freedom of religion under the 1st Amendment.

Attorney Thorson's advice is odd to say the least. The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of." Are members of the Temecula City Council now considered members of congress?

CAIR and other Muslim propaganda organizations have once again proved that their malignant tumor of a cult can metastasize through school boards and city councils do to the ignorance of their leaders. Today begins the process to recall of the current failed leadership.

Islam is incompatible with Western civilization.
Muslims in America should either convert or leave altogether... move to Dubai... plenty of fine vacant housing there... civil war is coming soon to Europe, because of the mindless mass immigration of Muslims there... America, beware! Islam is not a religion of peace, but an ideology of conquest and domination...

Parking and traffic- My butt! It doesn’t take a genius to discern that the real issue is hatred and intolerance by Christians. I think it is wrong to condemn an entire religion for the illegal/immoral acts of a few. If the protesters have proof of terrorism/support, let them bring that forward; if not, let everyone worship in peace.
Temecula Resident

So long as the moderate Muslims keep their silence in the face of brutal activities perpetuated by radical Islamist, then the moderates will keep permitting the Islamist to define them and allow the whole world to view all Muslims as potentially violent. It's time for moderate Muslims to stand up publicly and actively against radical Islamists.

Its better that they build the mosque and at least this way, the government is aware of all the actions and dealings of the mosque. Those of you who think that what happens inside a mosque is private, well I have two words for you, "Patriot Act". You can forgot about it, plus the mulslims that actually are trying to have a jihad against America are not that stupid to actually go to a mosque and discuss their plans or tactics there. Common people, as long as they are taxed whatever the rate is in Temecula just like all the other religious centers it means more money for Temecula. Plus more jobs in terms of building and maintaining the facilities.

Has any ever been to Temecula. White flight who could not afford to live in nice areas so they band together down in hell hole.

Wonder how much money will be raised in Temecula and shipped to those forces fighting our troops.

Incredible. All over the area there are churches and religious centers of comparable size and traffic. I suspect that if "Islam" were removed from the process, the same objections (legitimate they may be) would be voiced as "concerns" to "mitigate".

As far as the "slippery slope" cited by those objecting to the project, lest we forget every religion has extremists that seek to influence those who are not like them, even in California (or maybe especially).

@James, what are you talking about? Muslim groups in the US condemn terrorists everytime there is anything related to terrorism. In fact, more muslims have died because of muslim terrorism than any other faith by far. And yet you're accusing them of remaining silent?

How exactly do you prove the silence of an entire religion? I don't know if that's possible but i do know that you can do the opposite. It's easy to do a little research and see that most mainstream muslim groups HAVE denounced terrorism and have always denounced terroism. This "silence" thing is just something else cooked up over there at Fox.

Um taxes? You do know that a religious establishment is exempt from taxes right?

There goes the neighborhood... Do we really needs Muslims in this country? (no)

Jim Campell said "Attorney Thorson's advice is odd to say the least. The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of." Are members of the Temecula City Council now considered members of congress? "

You need to update your understanding of the Constitution - the 14th amendment has for a long time been used to apply the bulk of the Bill of Rights to state and local governments.

If that's not good enough, Article 1 Section 4 of the California consitution states "Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without
discrimination or preference are guaranteed." If the building of the mosque were denied on the basis of the religion of the builders, it would constitute religious discrimination by the city council, and thus they would be breaking California law.

You mark my words -- this mosque will be little more than an incubator for terrorism. It is way they proposed it for such a backwater community as Temecula -- hidden away and forgotten about. Never forget September 11, 2001.

The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of." Are members of the Temecula City Council now considered members of congress? -- Back to high school civics, Mr. Campbell. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Federal law always supersedes local law on religious matters. This fact is on, among other things, the citizenship test. I presume the regular attendees of the mosque have passed it.

It's depressing how many people came out against this. It's an English-speaking mosque for American Muslims. It's no more likely to create terrorists than a typical American church. The FBI statistics show this.

NOTICE you won't hear from atheists.

Are you ( all ) allowed to have places of worship in moslem countries.? With out backlash. You show that you are better than them. It will be a costly but thats leadership.

I live in NY city for a couple of years, unfortunately right next to a Mosque, and I can tell you my experience was that the Muslims had no respect for the neighborhood. During their prayer sessions, 5 times a day, people would park on the side walks, double park blocking cars in, and anywhere else they could find parking without a care in the world for their neighbors. Outside the Mosque there was trash everywhere and I have to say it was the most disgusting, dirtiest, trashiest corner in all of Astoria. They would through boxes of there food on the ground for the birds to eat, but there was so much that it looked like a trash dump. In the two years that I lived there they never cleaned up outside their property. They would hag out outside the Mosque with their skull caps, and dresses on with long beards, I thought I was in Pakistan. Unfortunately they come from a culture that lacks respect for people, they only respect MONEY, and POWER, and if you don't have it, TOO BAD FOR YOU!!

@James

So long as the moderate Christians keep their silence in the face of brutal activities perpetuated by radical Christians, then the moderates will keep permitting the Christians to define them and allow the whole world to view all Christians as potentially violent. It's time for moderate Christians to stand up publicly and actively against radical Christians.

I live a block from where they are planning this terrorist camp and traffic WILL BE an issue. Is is a winding two lane road with potholes that gets congested now. Not to mention extremely busy Winchester which is the only major street leading to the area.

Should Chrisitan churches be prohibited until all Christians loudly condemn any and all violent Christian extremists, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere? Islamic extremists have tried to convince Muslims that the West is at war with all of Islam not, as governments have protested, just with violent etremists. Some ignorant people seem hell-bent on proving those extremists right. You can be sure that some of the bigoted comments at the hearing will get play overseas. There are billions of Muslims in the world. We are at war with all of them? It wasn't all that many years ago that Catholics were accused of wanting to take over the U.S. ("No Papists here!").

The only part I don't understand is why anybody would want to build their mosque in a town as horrid as Temecula.

Ken Camp, Los Angeles

3 words; Freedom of Religion

 
1 2 3 4 | »

Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video

About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.

Categories




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: