I wish to make some corrections with regards to your “Dealing with a crisis in Chinatown’’ blog in last week’s edition and to the contention that Mayor Jenny Durkan has done more than any previous Seattle mayor.
Referring to the Wah Mee Massacre, it was stated that the “Mayor at that time never took the initiative to visit us.” Not true. Then-Mayor Charlie Royer had a well publicized dinner with Police Chief Patrick Fitzsimmons at a Chinatown restaurant to show that the Chinatown-International District (ID) was a safe place to visit, dine, and shop. Moreover, the police department initiated a daily two-officer patrol throughout the ID that walked the streets past the 2 a.m. restaurant and bar closing time immediately after the Wah Mee incident. The police patrol presence, which lasted about six months or so, was a substantial attempt to make residents and patrons of the area feel safe there.
“The city has been doing more than just trying to establish better police relations in the International District,” Mayor Royer said in reference to the area’s perceived crime problem in the aftermath of the Wah Mee killings. “We made a commitment in this community six years ago that the city would provide whatever assistance was needed to make this area a good place to live and to do business.”
An example of the city’s assistance at that time was its help in securing a Small Business Loan for the House of Hong’s relocation to a larger space within Chinatown.
During Mayor Royer’s term, the city infused more than $4 million of its funds, $2 million of federal funds that leveraged $5 million in private investments to rehabilitate eight buildings in the district.
These projects resulted in more than 300 housing units and new commercial space for over 50 businesses.
Unfortunately, I do not have a credible figure regarding the amount of the revenues the residents of the fix-upped housing spent in the small businesses in the area or the amount of revenues generated by the businesses who occupied the new commercial space. Nor do I have an estimate of the amount spent in the ID among the many employees of the nonprofits in the area that began receiving city funds during the Royer administration. My guess is that these new revenues to the area were substantial.
Other mayors, beginning with Wes Uhlman and others (Norm Rice, Paul Schell, Greg Nickels, Mike McGinn, and Ed Murray), have done things to address the needs of the ID. While some of these mayors have done more than others, prior mayors did very little or nothing at all for the area.
Nevertheless, the assertion that “the most Durkan’s predecessors did was to tour the ID with his people to learn about our needs” is incorrect. So is the claim, “She (Durkan) has out done all her predecessors and is now going to bat for our businesses.”
Visiting Chinatown three times in a week, bringing the mayoral staff and having lunch with community leaders there, and claiming that the city is for immigrant businesses, needs to be backed up with action. Talk is cheap. Instead of “inspiring her team to do more for the marginalized community, including immigrant businesses,” it would be much more meaningful if she “directed” her team to do so with specific action plans and outcomes. And, while the mayor bringing her staff for lunch in Chinatown to dispel the notion that it is not safe because of the coronavirus fears was, at best, a good gesture, it did nothing to increase business in the area. Most businesses and neighborhood commercial areas in Seattle and elsewhere are down because of the coronavirus fears.
— Doug Chin