Hispanics Wary of Effort to Regulate Home Colors in Dallas Suburb

Anabelle Garay, AP, October 10, 2007

Some residents of this Dallas suburb that tried to ban apartment rentals to illegal immigrants now want the city to regulate which colorful hues people can paint their homes.

Although the City Council hasn’t decided whether to consider any house paint restrictions, Hispanic leaders say it’s yet another effort to target Latinos in the city.

“I believe controlling the color you paint your house is basically profiling the Hispanic community,” said Elizabeth Villafranca, whose family owns a Mexican restaurant in Farmers Branch. “We all know who paints their homes tropical colors.”

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Such paint ordinances are usually set by homeowners associations in the suburbs. Historical districts also regulate colors in an effort to preserve the original appearance of homes, said Jeffrey J. Rous, a University of North Texas professor who teaches urban economics.

Farmers Branch resident Tom Bohmier wonders if there’s a way to balance ruling out some shocking colors while keeping individuality. One of his neighbors has a home painted in several different colors, including flashy blue.

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For now, city officials plan no action.

“We’re going to look into it and see what the legal ramifications are,” said city spokeswoman Nicole Recker.

Farmers Branch leaders have become involved in the nationwide political debate over immigration.

The City Council approved an ordinance that would require apartment managers to verify that renters are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants before leasing to them, with a few exceptions. Landlords would have faced fines of up to $500 a day for violating the measure.

Voters endorsed the ordinance in May but a federal judge has blocked its enforcement, saying Farmers Branch attempted to regulate immigration differently than the federal government.

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