Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 25, 2010

Muslims Center OK'd for Hacienda

Community facility will offer prayer, classes and social activities

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The Muslim Community Center of the East Bay has found a permanent home in Pleasanton in Hacienda Business Park.

The Pleasanton Planning Commission unanimously approved the use permit for the building at 5724 W. Las Positas Blvd., east of the intersection with Hacienda Drive, which was recently purchased by the Muslim group. The center will include a prayer area, offices and classroom spaces.

The applicant, Zaheer Siddiqui, a Pleasanton resident, said the congregation has had two homes on Quarry Lane.

"Since 2003 we have had two facilities and have never had issues or complaints," he said. "We've had such good relationships that we get calls if the door is not locked."

"We have prayer services five times a day, and our largest gathering is Friday from 12 to 2," he said, but added that, because of people's work schedules, even those prayers were not well attended.

"Our population is growing," Siddiqui said. "We are made up of professionals throughout the Tri-Valley, which is why we decided to buy property. We have worked closely with the city Planning Department."

He pointed out that the previous tenant was a self-defense institute.

"This will be a much quieter use of the facility," he said.

The only request made by the city planning staff was for wedding celebrations to end at 10 p.m. if held Sundays rather than the midnight hour mentioned in the staff report.

Siddiqui noted that the congregation does not have many young people who would be getting married so the limited hours would be no problem.

"Weddings are not so frequent," he said. "We have two or three in a whole year - four times a year at the most."

"There is no alcohol served and supervised parking," he added.

The observation of Ramadan, a 30-day event once a year, would be conducted until 11 p.m., the report also noted.

Ingrid Plemmons, who said she would be one of the nearest neighbors, asked whom she could call if there was a noise issue after hours at the community center.

"There will always be a person in charge," said Siddiqui. "We will provide three contact numbers."

The building on West Las Positas has two other tenants, who will remain and lease from the new owners.

For about a year, the Muslim prayer group met at St. Augustine Catholic Church, Dublin resident Gustavo Nystrom told the Planning Commission. He facilitated that space use, which began with a one-month trial period, which was extended to two months, etc., and lasted for about a year.

The Muslims have been holding their Sunday school classes between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at Hart Middle School, Siddiqui said. The classes will take place at the new center.

"The kids are always going to be inside," Siddiqui said.

"We have reviewed and approved their plans," said James Paxson, executive director of Hacienda Business Park. "We were so impressed with their level of detail and attention."

Paxson also noted that there are similar uses in other parts of the business park.

In 2003, the Planning Commission approved the Islamic Center of Pleasanton-Dublin in 2003 to operate at 1279 Quarry Lane, Suite B. Since then that group has merged with the Muslim Community Center East Bay and moved to a new location on Quarry Lane. But recently the Muslim Community Center purchased the building in the business park and wanted to relocate, which required this new approval.

Religious facilities have become a common use in commercial/industrial areas, such as the business park, according to the staff report, and they are generally regarded as good neighbors.

Given the group's history at its Quarry Lane location, the planning staff does not expect any noise problems at the new location, the report said.

If the Muslim Community Center wants to add signage or redo the existing monument sign, it will follow standard processing procedures with the city.

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