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Islamic center in Signal Hill could be completed by next fall

June 28th, 2007 · No Comments · News

islamic-center.jpgBy Joseph Serna, Staff Writer

The Signal Hill City Council approved a conditional use permit for an Islamic center on California Avenue at their June 12 meeting.
While many aspects for the mosque have yet to be detailed, a rough outline of the cost, appearance and completion date for the religious center have been laid out.
The 2,025-square-foot facility will be at 995 27th Street, on the northwest corner of 27th Street and California Avenue, and will stand unique to the surrounding abandoned lots and developing industrial locations around it, including a concrete plant and storage warehouses being constructed just west of it.
“This kind of project is very much needed by the community,” said Tarek Mohamed, the chairman of the center’s board and the local group’s imam, or leader. Since the group’s beginning in 2004, they have been working out of an office on Long Beach Boulevard, with prayers being conducted at the members’ businesses or homes, he said.
The association has collected about 60 percent of the money needed for the mosque’s construction, Mohamed estimated. They are currently tapping local mosques, as well as individual and group contributions to help with funding.
Mohamed expects the mosque to serve as a link to conveying the peace of the Muslim religion, as it did last year when it hosted a dinner with Jewish and Christian leaders during the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
Addressing events in this country and abroad that could breed a negative stereotype of Muslims, he said, “We have a duty to communicate that this is 100 percent opposite of Islam.”
He added, “Islam means you have peace between you and the Lord. Peace between you and your neighbor, between you and your community.”
Mayor Tina Hansen and Councilmember Mike Noll were concerned some would not welcome an Islamic center into the community. Upon their urging city staff to ensure there will be proper lighting along California Avenue at the June 12 meeting for safety reasons, Mohamed and other group members could only express appreciation for the Council’s carefulness in approving the permit.
“I appreciate the city,” Mohamed said. “And the higher level of responsibility of the mayor and City Council.”
Mohamed said he hopes the facility will be opened by Sept. 1, 2008, the beginning of next year’s Ramadan.
According to the June 12 staff report, a neighboring property owner had expressed concerns about audible calls to prayer, or Adhan. In the Islamic faith there are prayers five times a day.
However, Mohamed assured the Council all Adhans will be indoors. Morning prayer sessions will be from 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and an evening prayer session will be from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The property will be open from noon to 4 p.m. for general office hours and public visitations on weekdays. It will also be open during evenings on Saturdays for special lectures.
Parking is scarce in the area, but the required 18 off-street spaces should be sufficient, Mohamed told the Council. There are only about 25 members in the group, he said.
With the conditional use permit approved, the mosque’s next step to becoming a reality is submitting grading and building plans. Because the property is a religious facility, it is exempt from general property taxes.
The applicant is responsible for $10,752 in development impact fees.

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