By Patricia Fong
People power prevailed and a blatant assault on the Seattle Chinatown-International District (CID) by King County and the City of Seattle was successfully rebuffed—for now.
In the aftermath of such government discrimination, I’d like to offer thoughts for future protections of our community.
First, ‘We are not your solution and we won’t let you make us part of your problem!’ would be a good rallying slogan in the face of anticipated future onslaughts by City, County or private low income housing developers.
The CID needs to incorporate a legal body with officers and community members-at large. Businesses incorporate in anticipation of pitfalls and risks—why shouldn’t the CID do likewise?
The goal is to be legally recognized, included, interacted and partnered with, on equal footing with any City, County or other legal entities.
The CID and Little Saigon need to be immediately designated as a ‘drug-free’ zone from boundary to boundary. There is also a school in Little Saigon which must, if not already, have that designation.
The CID and Little Saigon need to crack down on graffiti and landlords who do not take responsibility for property maintenance (this includes garbage and planting areas).
A history and art mural project could be a positive way to combat graffiti and urban blight. Tucson, Arizona has a very successful mural program which is meant to prevent tagging, beautify blighted areas (or prevent blight), give local artists a canvas to express themselves and build and strengthen the cultural life of a community.
Promoting and strengthening small business particularly Asian American small business must be an immediate priority. Small independent businesses in the CID are a wonderful example of the so-called ’American Dream.’ Financial assistance is imperative.
The City is expanding homeless outreach teams. The CID must petition the City for its own homeless outreach team. I have heard of the acts of compassion by community members and while humane, nonetheless, compassion notwithstanding, the CID must be firm and not allow the community to, by default, become a de facto repository for any government or private entity’s perennial problems. The CID is not a dump!
The City’s DESC Navigation Center must immediately be declared and administered as a drug-free facility. The well-documented drug- and theft ring/crime-related blight that evolved around the Center—specifically 12th and Jackson—shows the consequences to our community of poorly conceived and mismanaged homeless services. Harm reduction and drugs reported at the Center do not belong in or near a residential/business community. We must insist on this immediately.
Last but not least, huge props to Tanya Woo for her inspiration to the CID community and her brave persistence in the face of bureaucratic adversity! People power—recognizing, honoring and mobilizing it—is always compelling and arouses public interest, awareness and sympathy and should always be considered an effective part of community advocates and activists’ resources.