A proposed Homeless Navigation Center in Fremont has roiled the city’s public discourse for months, highlighted the friction between residents concerned over the city’s deepening homeless crisis and homeowners who fear the facility could lower the value of their properties.
But the controversy has also revealed a burgeoning schism between two members of the Fremont City Council who have taken opposing stances on the location of the Homeless Navigation Center.
Fremont Mayor Lily Mei has been a leading proponent of the facility to help alleviate the city’s homelessness problem. Last month, Lei penned a letter to the community asking for compassion for the homeless.
Councilmember Teresa Keng, meanwhile, has sided with vocal and well-organized residents, many Asian American, from Fremont’s Decoto neighborhood, a second choice recommended by the city staff for the proposed navigation center.
But, the level of contention between Keng, the Decoto residents, and Mei has risen to an entirely new level, according to sources.
Earlier this summer, Keng distributed Mei’s home address on the messaging app WeChat in order to encourage opponents of the navigation center in order to pressure the mayor to place the navigation center at a location other than Decoto.
The strategy is often called doxxing, and is typically used with malicious intent to harass another.
Keng’s action against Mei created additional problems. After the incident, Fremont Police Department began patrolling the area around mayor’s home, according to sources, out of caution for Mei and her family’s safety.
Both Chinese American councilmembers are up for re-election next year. Keng won the newly-created District 1 council seat last November in the city’s first use of district elections. But due to the switch from at-large to district elections, the district Keng won is a short-term seat up in November 2020. Mei’s four-year term as mayor is also up for re-election next year.
But the doxxing controversy, in addition, to Keng’s gripes for not being included in some city functions, including a visit to Fremont by a Taiwanese official (Keng is Taiwanese), has led some to speculate she is eyeing a run for mayor next year.