A low-profile mosque, tucked away in a family home on a suburban street in San Bruno, must make structural adjustments to accommodate its growing congregation, say city officials.
Since it opened its doors in 2003, Al Madinah Academy at 714 4th Avenue has seen its congregation grow from seven to some 60 attendees for its midday prayer on Fridays, said the mosque’s president, Dean Moidin.
“The community is growing day by day,” Moidin said.
Al Madinah was opened in 2003 by a handful of working-class Fijian immigrants. The mosque, which teaches Arabic classes and offers daily prayer services out of a residential home, is so discreet that two neighbors living just a few doors away said they had no idea of its existence.
Even city officials were clueless about the Islamic place of worship until an observant neighbor started asking questions back in 2009.
While city code requires religious facilities to file for a permit and provide visitors with ample parking, Al Madinah had failed to do either, said Aaron Aknin, community development director. After receiving a warning, however, the group hastily suspended its services on the property and submitted applications for a congregational permit and parking renovations.
The San Bruno city council Wednesday authorized an environmental review of the mosque’s proposed renovations, which include increasing the number of parking spaces from four to 14.
The project would combine two adjacent lots at 710 and 714 Fourth Ave. The existing single-family home at 714 would be demolished and replaced with a two-story religious building, which Moidin said would “appear residential.” The two-story home on the 710 lot will remain intact and serve as home to the mosque’s imam.
The total cost of the environmental review, an upcoming architectual review, and the proposed renovations is expected to reach $750,000, money the small congregation will have to raise before it can restart services on site.
The number of Muslims may be on the rise not just in San Bruno, but across San Mateo County, due to both immigration and expanding local Muslim families, according to Abdurrahman Anwar, the imam at Belmont’s mosque and community center, the Yaseen Foundation.