strong>BY ALBERT SHEN
SCIDPDA Board of Directors
The Seattle Chinatown International District is a lively hub of activity, bustling with residents, families, workers and visitors. In the midst of neighborhood revitalization, the Chinatown ID is one of the few Seattle neighborhoods to feature a lively combination of urban atmosphere, over 380 locally-owned businesses and a strong sense of community, history, and multi-ethnic culture. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that just a few years ago, the neighborhood’s reputation as a high crime area kept many of its new visitors away.
The Community Action Partnership (CAP) was formed in 1995 in response to the community’s desire to improve public safety in the neighborhood. CAP is a groundbreaking collaboration between the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDPDA), the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Seattle Police Department. From a storefront located in the heart of the neighborhood, CAP has led the effort, in partnership with the community and service agencies, to make the Chinatown ID a safer, cleaner, more welcoming place to live, work and play.
Precariously located on the edge of downtown and sandwiched between two interstates and two major sports stadiums, the Chinatown ID community has continuously struggled against unique safety challenges. Comprised of a majority of immigrants, refugees, and elderly with limited English-speaking skills, the community is deterred by language and cultural barriers that make crime reporting difficult. Recognizing the need for a community safety advocate, CAP serves as a strong line of communication between the police department and the multi-ethnic community to ensure crimes are reported and followed up on. CAP works with the police department to develop strategies to educate community members in a culturally-respectful manner on the usage of 9-1-1 and personal and business safety. With an open-door policy, CAP has earned the community’s trust, ensuring that our program manager stays on top of neighborhood trends and concerns.
For 10 years, CAP has helped bring together community members, neighborhood service organizations and the police department to collectively improve neighborhood safety and reduce crime. To decrease drug activity and prostitution, CAP worked with program partners to install closed-circuit cameras in crime hot spots. CAP has reduced chronic inebriation and associated crime in the neighborhood by encouraging neighborhood businesses to voluntarily discontinue the sales of malt liquor and fortified wine through participation in Good Neighbor Agreements. CAP successfully lobbied the City to implement additional traffic signals to manage the hundreds of additional cars game day traffic spills onto the neighborhood’s typically pedestrian-friendly streets. And to help keep the neighborhood’s green spaces, sidewalks, and alleyways clean and secure, CAP hosts the city’s largest annual spring clean up and manages the ongoing removal of blackberry bushes used as cover for transient camps, a major source of neighborhood crime.
The safety improvements facilitated by CAP has been a catalyst for a recent influx of new market-rate housing, development, and businesses.
“CAP has been a terrific resource in improving and drawing the community together. The residents, businesses and customers that come to our properties have more peace of mind than in years past as well as a means to engage in addressing the concerns they have,” said Phil Combs, Uwajimaya Property Manager.
Please join CAP on Friday, Oct. 21 at Four Seas Restaurant (714 S. King St.) from 6-9:30 p.m. to celebrate 10 years of making the Chinatown ID a safer place for the entire community. Tickets are $30.
If you are unable to attend the celebration, we encourage you to visit CAP Program Manager Virgil Domaoan ([email protected]; (206) 621-1815) at the office located next to Hing Hay Park at 409 Maynard Avenue, Suite P1-B, to learn more about the exciting ways CAP is creating a positive difference in community safety.