Islamic cultural center gets the go-ahead in Serra Mesa

A local Afghan group won unanimous approval last night from a San Diego community advisory board to open an Islamic religious and cultural center in Serra Mesa. More than 65 residents filled a library meeting room for the issue before the Serra Mesa Community Planning Group. Last June, when the Afghani Community Islamic Center first proposed moving into a former bank building on Sandrock Road near Gramercy Drive, anonymous fliers on lampposts and in mailboxes had proclaimed “No Terrorists in Our Community.” But no anti-Islamic fears were voiced last night, only concerns common with any potential high-use project: traffic and parking. Leaders of the Afghan group, which has leased spaces in Kearny Mesa and Miramar since 1994, assured the committee that their center would rarely draw more than a few dozen people at a time, even during its main prayer services on Friday afternoons. Joseph Jawed Hayat, a board member and spokesman for the center, said one of its main aims will be to promote cross-cultural understanding between Afghan Muslims and the broader community. “Our goal is to create a dynamic so we can share information about each other,” he said. The group expects to open the center in two to three months, after obtaining design approvals and a conditional-use permit from the city planning officials.