Published in the August 8 – 21, 2018 issue of Gilroy Life
By Connie Ludewig
We are people who come from all walks of life and are proud San Martin has always been a melting pot of ethnicities and faiths. While researching the rich history of this rural community I found we have several religious institutions in San Martin and that includes the South Valley Islamic Center who are part of our community and worship here.
SVIC members attend and participate with the San Martin Neighborhood Alliance and the San Martin Chamber of Commerce. Collectively, we have worked side by side at community events such as the San Martin Trash Bash and the show “Art for Refugees in Need.” Our organizations worked together as friends, and yet the canvas painted by the local media depicts San Martin as hateful, which is unfortunate and untrue.
Recently, I had the pleasure to visit the SVIC mosque on Columbet Avenue. This facility is very nicely renovated, and yet it is my understanding they have outgrown this dwelling. Organizations like SMNA and SMCoC, as well as individual residents, agree that SVIC should be permitted to build a place of worship that is similar in size to all other religious institutions in San Martin.
It’s important for readers to understand why opponents are speaking up. The county of Santa Clara needs to abide by the General Plan ordinances, which include the San Martin Integrated Design Plan. This document was established by the board of supervisors in 1995 to protect the rural integrity of San Martin from large growth.
San Martin residents’ complaints and worries about our health and safety have been censored! We refuse to be stifled. Therefore, it is time for decision-makers to hear the residents of San Martin and support our request for the county to require applicants to abide by the SMIDP.
Writing this, the movie scene from “A Few Good Men” comes to mind. Jack Nicholson’s character is on the witness stand, and he blurts out “You can’t handle the truth!” Here is our truth: there are real environmental concerns in our community. San Martin has been victims of abuse and neglect for too long. From a 10-year clean-up of perchlorate and the sewer trunk-lines from Morgan Hill to Gilroy; not to mention the 204,000 gallons of sewage released into Llagas Creek in 2017 by our neighboring city.
The county of Santa Clara held a public meeting July 12 for those who wished to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report that was completed on the proposed Cordoba Center Project. This public forum was represented by the media as a whirl of accusations, booing, bigotry, and statements about religious freedom. The truth is that comments that came from actual San Martin residents went unreported in local news because it lacked the discord the media wants to portray. San Martin residents’ public opinion about the Cordoba Center is that it should abide by the SMIDP and be built to size, scale, and intensity, like the other institutions in the community.
The local media did a disservice to SMNA and the community of San Martin when they blatantly failed to print the formal written statement provided by the SMNA Board of Directors as it related to the Cordoba Project. Instead, the media included hearsay and implied that SMNA are opponents and were unruly at the public meeting. One must wonder, are newspapers really hurting that bad that they resort to false narratives to sell papers? Many SVIC members are members of SMNA, so I would say to the reporter … get your facts straight!
In a perfect world there would be no place for hatred or bigotry. I have been on the receiving end of such ugliness by proponents, and my heart goes out to those who have been subjected to it on the other side. It does no one any good and is best to just agree to disagree. Since I have been outspoken regarding how this project will forever change the rural integrity of San Martin, I have been called names, received threatening phone calls, been bullied online, and other such brazen acts of hostility.
San Martin is home to many, and each of us has a right to our position on any project proposed for our area.
Connie Ludewig is a San Martin resident.