Photo illustration by Alexa Strabuk 譚文曠

The International Examiner is witnessing the Chinatown International District (CID) communities’ rapid and vigorous reclamation of its community power to push back structural racist disruptions  that purport to benefit the public at the expense of the CID. 

The CID’s growing confidence and community power is reminiscent of the days of Uncle Bob Santos. Strong collective community power is a must to push back against three mega disruptors in the neighborhood: allowable 17 floor developments, the unmitigated May 2020 bashing of the CID, and proposed increase in flights to further pollute the CID which has the worst air quality in Seattle. 

Swift and strong CID community actions led by Tanya Woo stopped the proposed “mega shelter” at the old immigration building. Now the siting of a Sound Transit station has come to a head.

After numerous protests and community meetings with Sound Transit and the City, two positions calling for community support have emerged: one asking for Sound Transit to site the station on 4th Avenue; and the other asking Sound Transit to not site a station on 4th or 5th Avenues and to evaluate a north of and a south of CID station location.  Complete and thorough evaluations of all proposals must be conducted in order for the CID to make a fully informed decision on what is the least harmful Sound Transit station option for the CID.

The pressure faced by the CID communities to identify a station location preference quickly must be put in perspective. Civil rights organizations had called out Sound Transit for creating this problem. Sound Transit failed to conduct a racial impact analysis that would have informed them of the detrimental effects of siting a station in or near the CID. 

The belief that increased traffic from a station in the CID would mean increased business patronage must be questioned. 

We call on Sound Transit and the City of Seattle to do its due diligence on all projects affecting the CID, to allow sufficient time for impact evaluations to be thorough, and to engage the community meaningfully before proposals are made.

It is time for the City to establish a new economic model that engenders a healthy and culturally vibrant CID.  

The International Examiner Board of Directors is: Travis Quezon, Leslie Lum, Joan Yoshitomi, Gary Iwamoto, Ron Chew, Sokha Danh, Arlene Oki, and Maria Batayola.

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