2 letters: So many problems with Islamic Center proposal for San Martin; Terrible tragedy, but we have to keep living our lives

Facts make it clear, the Islamic Center proposal is getting special treatment

Dear Editor,

I find it totally amazing how in a small town like San Martin, community issues appear to be well hidden or hushed.  Take for instance the Cordoba Center.  This is an Islamic Center (mosque) with plans for a school and a cemetery to be built on the corner of Monterey Road and California Avenue in San Martin.

There are so many things wrong with this project that I don’t know where to begin. So let’s start with why so many San Martin citizens are unaware of this project to be built in their own neighborhood. I polled several areas of San Martin recently and talked with many residents who had no idea about this project, and live just a few blocks away.  Many raised concerns over development of any type along with others who questioned how the community as a whole would benefit from facilities that most of the community would not be able to utilize.

These concerns were secondary to the primary concern, which is that these buildings are to be built on a 100-year flood zone and earthquake hazard zone.  Anyone with common sense would ask why a prime piece of property in such a beautiful community as San Martin hasn’t previously been developed.

So being inquisitive, I looked into it.  I discovered that a previous owner wanting to develop this land with plans calling for one (1) unisex bathroom was denied permits by the county. I spoke with another person who also had inquired with the county about developing the property. The county told him that he wasn’t able to install a septic system so he, too, was turned away.  So how is this same property miraculously able to pass all tests, county codes and ordinances currently that the two previous owners couldn’t pass?

After reading last week’s article “Islamic Center Back in Spotlight” all I can say is that you can’t believe everything you read.  I was taught to trust, but verify. It’s disappointing when a writer goes after a person in print without first verifying the information. It’s especially true when the “misinformation”, as Mr. Abbass calls it, was printed in an earlier article dated 9/28/07 of the same paper. (http://www.morganhilltimes.com/news/community/islamic-community-opens-doors-to-public-in-wake-of-mosque/article_07d938d0-8be7-5ece-b829-e1343e1cfea9.html)

In the article the PCOA (People’s Coalition for Government Accountability) rightfully quoted Mr. Akhter (Mosque’s board of directors) when he stated, “The $2.5-million mosque project is considerably scaled back from conceptual designs revealed earlier in the year, Akhter said, explaining that a lack of funds has forced a convalescent home and high school facility to become part of a 10-year improvement plan.”

So Mr. Abbass, when you confirmed that there are no plans for such facilities now or in the future, who is giving the misinformation, you or Mr. Akhter?

Unless you are a building planner, septic specialist or are bored out of your mind, I doubt the average person would take the time to read all the technical jargon in order to understand the magnitude of potential liability being passed onto San Martin residents by the county as it gives this plan a pass by turning a blind eye to all the violations. And let’s not forget the potential liability the taxpayers could eventually end up paying if this project is approved and previous owners decide to sue the county for allowing current owners to violate ordinances and codes they couldn’t.    

Mr. Abbass seems to downplay the failure of the 2006 percolation tests yet in Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health document, it states, “Percolation tests were done in 2006 … These results are still valid for this project and no further soil testing is necessary.”  Really? Who is going to take responsibility for the liability of this huge error? And where is County Supervisor, Mike Wasserman?

I don’t think the people elected him to represent the people of South County so that he could remain silent and not convey the wishes of the community.

I’m also curious how Mr. Abbass intends to convince the county and the people of San Martin that  the “South Valley Islamic Center which serves about 70 families in the South Valley area, from San Jose to Hollister” is in compliance with R-LU 57 where it states “Residential, agricultural and open space uses are the primary uses.  Commercial, industrial and institutional uses may be established only where they serve the needs of the resident population and result in a net overall reduction of travel demand.”  

Don’t get me wrong; my concern has nothing to do with who owns the land, unless who owns the land is getting special treatment over others.

Oh, and by the way, I was able to find five churches online in San Martin, but what’s three extra churches when you’re dead set on building a mosque, school and cemetery in a flood zone?

Georgine Scott-Codiga, Gilroy

Shooting tragedy hits home, yet we cannot become afraid to ‘live our lives’ in America

Dear Editor,

There is no rationalizing what happened last week in Aurora, Colorado any more than you can rationalize similar incidents. A troubled soul slipped over the edge. The event is seared onto our minds and it will remain there until the next time it happens. And, there is always a next time.

Some will call for tighter restrictions on guns. The liberal in me sees that as a good idea. The pragmatist in me knows that stricter gun laws will not stop these senseless acts of violence from re-occurring.

Some will call for theaters to screen their patrons. My mind conjures up an image of TSA screening at airports at movie theaters. Pragmatism snaps me back to reality. Metal detectors and pat downs to go see the next Pixar film? Get real!

Will people change the way they live their lives? No. They will become more aware of their surroundings, just as we have all become at airports and on airplanes since the beginning of this century. That’s a good thing.

Can this kind of thing happen in Morgan Hill or Gilroy or San Jose? Yes. Where we live, work or shop are no different than Aurora or Littleton, Colorado or Killeen, Texas or anywhere else.

More restrictions on guns won’t make us immune. Neither will increased security where we shop, eat or are entertained. It would be too much and more important, it would not make us safer.

The only thing we can do is be vigilant. Be aware of our surroundings. Be aware of those around us. Be aware of something that looks out of place. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

What happened in Aurora was awful. People who sought a two-hour escape into fantasy from their daily lives were innocently struck down and hundreds more scared witless. It was terrible. Our lives go on and we cannot be afraid of living them.

David Cohen,  Morgan Hill

Leave your comments