Quite the trend brewing in rural America. Putting mosques in residential neighborhoods, often in what were single-family homes. via Plans for Oxnard Islamic center spur traffic, parking concerns » Ventura County Star.
A plan to convert a single-family home in north Oxnard to an Islamic community center drew about 60 people to an informational meeting Monday night, some with concerns about traffic and parking.
By the end, at least one couple who live near the site in the 200 block of RiverPark Boulevard said their worries were eased somewhat after they learned more about the project.
“I was very pleased,” said Rose Everard, whose family has owned property nearby since about 1950, adding she thought the center’s members would be good neighbors.
“I came with a different attitude,” she said.
Her husband, Robert Everard, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1969, also said the session was helpful.
The Islamic Center of Ventura County, an Oxnard group that has been renting a downtown storefront since forming in 1993, wants to provide parking for about 30 vehicles and knock down a wall in the home to make a large space for prayers. From the outside, the home in the El Rio West neighborhood next to the RiverPark development would look the same.
The item is scheduled to go to the city Planning Commission on Dec. 6, though the date could change. The commission’s decision will be final unless appealed to the City Council.
At Monday’s session, at which no decisions were made, the center’s members showed photos, site plans and answered questions from visitors.
Some neighbors spoke about existing traffic problems. Already, semitrailer trucks clog streets, park in residential areas and spew diesel fumes, they said. They said they worried about adding more cars to the mix and wondered how vehicles would access a parking lot planned for a part of what’s now a backyard.
Mohammed Islam, Mahmud Reza and other members of the Islamic Center said that Friday prayers, held for about an hour midday, draw the most visitors, perhaps 50 to 55 people. Only two or three worshippers typically show up for most other prayer sessions during the week. Drivers would access the future parking lot through an alley next to the property.
Chris Williamson, principal planner with the city, who is overseeing the project, told visitors their concerns about traffic would be noted when the item goes to the Planning Commission, but he also said problems with semitrailers and other delivery trucks had nothing to do with the Islamic Center’s proposal.
But traffic issues dominated the evening’s discussion. “We’re the ones who have to inhale that exhaust,” one man said.
The city’s zoning rules allow religious institutions in residential areas. Williamson said those rules have been in place at least 100 years.
Some people came to support the center.
Marilyn Valenzuela said she and her husband, Leo, had lived across from Mohammed Islam for 17 years.
“They’re fabulous neighbors,” she said.
Tim and Maria McDonell, members of Channel Islands Vineyards Christian Fellowship, said they’ve often attended the center’s services as part of an interfaith program, and they praised the members’ hospitality.
“I always stay and have a little tea,” Tim McDonell said.
Ah yes, Islamists Exploiting the Interfaith Racket and all it takes to fool a naive infidel is a little tea.