Social media is abuzz since a Dec. 3 editorial in The Seattle Times, announcing that “Seattle and King County have deserted Little Saigon.”
“Centered a few blocks around 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street, Little Saigon is beset with overflowing trash cans, litter, dirty sidewalks, and open-air drug dealing,” it read.
While we are grateful for the new spotlight by the newspaper that has Washington state’s largest circulation—for those of us who live and work in the Chinatown-International District (CID), this is old news. Crime, including robbery, theft, assault, and gun violence, is high in the area. Walk around the neighborhood and you still see many businesses boarded up. The CID needs help, especially since the devastating impact on businesses from the pandemic, followed by damage from splinter groups during the Black Lives Matter protests.
Most recently in August, the Northwest Asian Weekly interviewed Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, who told us thieves have been breaking into businesses and selling the merchandise at an outdoor flea market on 12th and Jackson. The market comes and goes, he told us, and now, it appears that it is ramping up.
Diaz said, “We have been doing community roll calls with a couple squads of our officers in the CID, Little Saigon, and 12th and Jackson, trying to address the [situation].”
The situation hasn’t improved since then and we feel as if we are banging our heads against the wall. Indeed, “Little Saigon is the Seattle neighborhood that government forgot.”
“Mayor Durkan and County Executive Constantine represent this neighborhood. So do Seattle Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales and County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. To all of them: This is on you,” The Seattle Times editorial board stated. We should also add that state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos’ district includes the CID—a neighborhood that her late husband, Bob Santos, championed.
This community has contributed much to the rich history, economic growth, and diversity of the city. Yet, the CID has been a dumping ground for the city’s problems long enough—problems that other “nicer” parts of the city don’t deal with.
City, county, and state leaders: are you listening? Perhaps you could all work together to create solutions. We have been overlooked for so long. We are tired of public hearings and empty promises from elected officials. It’s time for less talking and more doing. We need action now—not in a few months or, God forbid, a few years. We have been asking for years and is anyone listening?