“AA ‘yes’ vote fixes the parts of Fremont’s ordinance that are not working for our community,” said Virginia Meyer, a local Fremont activist from the organization Fremont Yes!. Meyer and fellow colleagues are just some of the many residents that are concerned about the special election to be held in Fremont on February 11.
Fremont residents have been given the opportunity to vote on the housing provisions of Ordinance 5165 – intended to discourage undocumented immigrants from renting by requiring all renters to pay a fee and get a license from the police. “If we fix the ordinance, we don’t have to worry about risking entering into costly legal fights or having to go through an annoying and burdensome process of getting a license and paying a fee every time we move to a new rental,” indicated Meyer.
By taking the time to cast a “yes” ballot in the special election, Meyer and fellow colleague Krista Anderson believe the City of Fremont and its residents will avoid facing costly legal battles that could take a toll on the people of Fremont. Anderson points out other towns that have attempted to enact similar laws are now footing the bill, into the millions of dollars, because of legal issues. “You will find those ordinances were deemed unconstitutional,” said Anderson and are being challenged in court.
“We’ve seen how a similar ordinance in Farmers Branch, Texas cost their city millions in legal fees and increased Farmers Branch residents’ property taxes,” added Meyer. Meyer, who just purchased a home in Fremont worries that if residents do not vote ‘yes’ and the housing provisions of Ordinance 5165 are allowed to go into effect, the City of Fremont will be challenged in court and this might lead to increased property taxes in Fremont.
“With our mortgage, kids, cars, etc, our budget is fairly tight,” said Meyer, adding “I don’t want my property taxes to increase so our city can defend an ordinance that is ineffective, burdensome and gives Fremont a bad name.” Increased property taxes could create financial strain for the families residing in Fremont.
Homeowners aren’t the only ones that could be affected if the housing provisions of Ordinance 5165 go into effect. “There is still a common misunderstanding about this ordinance,” pointed out Anderson. “It applies to anyone who rents in Fremont. This includes seniors, college students, young families, people in transition who are waiting to buy or build a home.”
Although the intent of the ordinance is to discourage undocumented immigrants from renting in Fremont, the ordinance itself does not require proof of citizenship or legal status to obtain an occupancy permit to rent in Fremont. Ultimately, the housing provisions of this ordinance “create an additional obstacle for renters in Fremont,” mentioned Anderson.
The two activists point out that a ‘yes’ vote will help the residents of Fremont avoid a tedious process. “If enforced, the housing portions of the ordinance requires everyone that wishes to rent a house or apartment to pay a five dollar fee for every person in the home over eighteen and get a license from the police station,” clarified Meyer. “If enforced, it will be a hardship for people in our community,” said Meyer.
“I don’t like that idea that renters have to register at the police department. It’s partly because of the fee, partly because of the inconvenience, but mostly because of the intrusion into a person’s private living circumstances,” pointed out Anderson. For these reasons both women strongly encourage the residents of Fremont to read the ordinance itself and look at the flow chart the City of Fremont has provided so they can gain a better understanding of the legislation.
Meyer and Anderson aren’t the only ones encouraging residents to vote ‘yes’ on February 11. “Our Chamber of commerce, our local economic development group called the Greater Fremont Development Council, the owners of several assisted living and nursing facilities in Fremont, our mayor and a handful of Fremont City Council members,” support a ‘yes’ vote said Meyer. She added that even the Fremont Area Young Professional group is taking steps to encourage residents to vote ‘yes’ so Fremont doesn’t become a city with a bad reputation.
“This vote is an opportunity for us to change the direction of our community. We urge people to read the facts on this ordinance. We know there are many people still undecided. It has been a very heated debate, but I hope people can see that we truly want what will be best for our community as a whole, in the long-term,” concluded Anderson. ,