Letters to the Editor – December 2017

15

What Is a “Clean” DREAM Act?

By Sonia Martinez

A “clean” DREAM Act would be legislation free from harmful provisions that hurt or demonize members of the broader undocumented community. A clean DREAM Act is solely focused on providing a path to permanent status for DACA recipients. However, many in Congress support harsher law enforcement and increased deportations, and are demanding such provisions be attached to the DREAM Act to pass the bill.

We believe passage of a clean DREAM Act is realistic even in these divisive times because of the striking bipartisan consensus in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. Eighty-four percent of Democrats and 69% of Republicans believe DACA recipients should not be deported. This bill is stronger than prior versions with the more generous age requirement. People who entered the United States before their 18th birthday can qualify, and there is no upper age limit. Previous versions limited the act’s benefits to people who entered before their 16th birthday and were under age 30.

As a person of faith and a constituent, I support dreamers. I strongly oppose President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program. DACA has provided nearly 800,000 immigrant youth the opportunity to work, raise a family and pursue their dreams. Congress must do everything in its power to protect immigrants from all over the country. I urge our local representatives to support a clean passage of the Clean Dream Act of 2017.

 


Fulton District vs. Fashion Fair

By Mike Rhodes

I went to the Fulton District (this used to be called the Fulton Mall) on the first Black Friday after the big grand opening. The hype was that by putting a street for cars down Fulton Street it would bring back shoppers. What I found today is that there seems to be fewer people on the street, possibly because many businesses were put out of business during the construction.

I believe that you are not going to get many North Fresno shoppers going to the Fulton District unless new stores fill up the empty buildings. If that happens, it will probably mean that most of the existing businesses will be dislocated because the rent will go up.

So, for the Fulton District to succeed it will be something like River Park¾with national chain stores such as Starbucks and The Gap. Personally, I would consider it a failure if that happens.

On the positive side, the artwork has been restored, it is still a nice place to walk and while the stores are not what folks north of Herndon are looking for, there are some interesting businesses, including several marketplaces (owned by small businesspeople) inside some of the large buildings. It is a style you see in Mexico and Central America but not so much here. I don’t know where else in Fresno you can buy a El Chapo t-shirt.

After going to the Fulton District in downtown Fresno, I headed north and went to Fashion Fair. There were so many people at Fashion Fair on Black Friday that there were no parking spaces available. There was pedestrian gridlock inside.

The argument for spending $20 million plus destroying the Fulton Mall was that if you put a road there that cars could drive down, the people would return. I don’t know, but it looks to me like the all-pedestrian Fashion Fair mall has plenty of shoppers. I don’t see how having cars drive down the middle of Fashion Fair would make things any better.

The origin of the problem with Fulton Street and downtown is that the City Council allowed developers to build large shopping centers like Manchester, Fashion Fair and River Park that drove even more growth north.

Will the City Council be able to gentrify the Fulton District and bring back shoppers? If that means destroying the mom-and-pop shops that are there now, is that what we even want?

At this time, it doesn’t look like the revitalization of the Fulton District is going to happen. But with the high-speed rail line coming and developers now looking at downtown as a source of revenue, things could change. If Fulton Street does become a shopping mecca, it will probably look a lot more like River Park than what is there now. The locally owned mom-and-pop shops will have been driven out because they can’t afford the rent.

And if that happens we are going to have to ask ourselves who is going to benefit from the conversion of the Fulton Mall into a two-way street. Big corporations such as The Gap, Starbucks and McDonalds? It certainly won’t be the small businesses that are there now.