By Mahlon Meyer
Northwest Asian Weekly
Why are there 17 homeless shelters within a half-mile radius of the Chinatown-International District (CID)? According to CID Public Safety Council member and Seattle Chinatown block member Gary Lee, one answer is—zoning.
“Lax zoning allows for the over concentration of shelters near the CID and Pioneer Square,” said Lee. “And now may be the last chance to get the city to make changes.”
The last meeting for public comments as part of the “One Seattle Community Plan” will take place on Jan. 30, 6-7:30 p.m.
The purpose of the plan is to guide “how our city grows and makes investments to make the city more equitable, livable, sustainable, and resilient.”
The Office of Community Planning and Development, in announcing the meetings, said, “Your voice shapes the plan.”
On its website, asking for public comments, it said, “Seattle’s planning history is marked by racist land use and housing policies and practices that created and perpetuated the exclusion and segregation of people along lines of race, ethnicity, and class.”
During public hearings last year at King County Council and Seattle City Council meetings, Lee and others brought to the attention of officials the zoning issue.
“We’ve been telling them this, but they’ve been ignoring us. The vision for the CID is an urban village that is thriving, but there’s an inconsistency with zoning that allows all these homeless shelters to come in—that works against the goal of a vibrant neighborhood,” he said.
Most other neighborhoods in Seattle and King County do not have any shelters.
“If we don’t get our voices in now, they’ll say we didn’t comment and ignore it,” said Lee.
To make public comments before Jan. 30, go to: https://engage.oneseattleplan.com/en/projects/leave-a-general-comment-1.
And click, “Submit a comment.”
To attend the virtual citywide meeting on Jan. 30, from 6-7:30 p.m., go to: https://bit.ly/OneSeattlePlanOnlineMeeting.
Mahlon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.