A Buddhist temple sues Fremont for religious discrimination

A Fremont Buddhist temple has launched a double barreled legal attack on its home city, a city that prides itself on diversity and has many Asian-American residents. It's a fight over building codes that could end up in the highest court in the land.

The Temple of 1001 Buddhas in Fremont and its founder are filing two racial, religious and gender discrimination legal actions against the city. 

"Why are you doing that to me, I know. It is because I am an Asian, a religious woman and they don't want to have a temple here," said Temple Co-Founder Miao Lan Lee. 

 Ms. Lee said the city is using an Abatement of Nuisance Order to force the Temple to tear down six of its worship structures.  

The Temple was served with a Order To Vacate back in 2018. It's all part of a decade-long dispute that could all come to a head in a week when a hearing is scheduled to deal with the matter.

Pictures given to KTVU by the city, include violations of the city's building and earthquake codes as well as inadequate fire protection, sanitation, lighting, ventilation and insulation. 

"The permit issue could be remedied over night if the city would be willing to," said civil rights attorney Angela Alioto who represents the Temple. She said permitting is essentially a ruse. "They did not want this Buddhist community on this hill," said Ms. Alioto. 

A structural engineer hired by the temple, said the structures are sound, but also that the Temple must finalize all permits and do things to satisfy any code deficiencies. 

"It's definitely, you can re-engineer back to make sure that it meets the current code and that's something I definitely want them to do that," engineer Kit Miamoto.

Ms. Alioto will file a second action against Fremont next month in addition to the one already served, outlining multiple accusations of abuses of power and unprofessional conduct. "We will go to the Supreme Court of the United States of America before we let anybody tear down temples," said Alioto.

The City of Fremont declined an interview, but sent a statement approved by its attorneys. "After an investigation that lasted several months and included multiple inspections with other government agencies...the City determined that multiple buildings had been constructed without building permits and in violation of CIty zoning regulations."