GOLETA, Calif. - The first mosque in the Santa Barbara area is finally constructed after nearly 20 years of obstacles and backlash.
The Santa Barbara Islamic Center on Los Carneros Road opened its doors to the community last month.
Muslim residents are glad to have a place to practice their faith, after many years of waiting.
"The good is it's built and you tend to forget all of those years. It took a long time, but time takes time," said Jamal Hamdani, Chair of the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara.
The Islamic Society purchased the property in 2001 around the time of the 9-11 attacks when people from the Middle East were often cast in an unfriendly light.
The dirt lot sat empty until 2006, after the moratorium on building was lifted in Goleta. Construction didn't begin until 2017.
Construction was "a labor of love" said architect Kenneth Mineau, who drew inspiration from the natural surroundings to use in his design esthetic. The building resembles the architecture of the community, rather than a mosque.
"The traditional mosque doesn't exist. It really depends upon the location, climate, and the culture," said Mineau.
The mosque is next to a 165 acre natural preserve and is environmentally friendly, using a grey water system, natural lighting and solar energy.
Muslim leaders said they want people of all faiths to feel welcome.
"We work hard to work on the common truths across all faiths. This is how we find our shared community," Hamdani said.