Size matters—especially in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID).
Especially now that the neighborhood is under threat again—this time by a Sound Transit project to expand a transit hub, and possibly shutting down part of the CID for up to a decade.
Two options are on the table and community advocates fear that if Sound Transit chooses the 5th Avenue route, the CID will lose—again.
The construction on I-5 in the 1960s took a chunk of the CID and, literally and figuratively cut the neighborhood in half, and destroyed many Chinese and Japanese-owned businesses and homes.
In 1941, a portion of the CID was demolished to build the Yesler Terrace neighborhood.
In 1886, Seattleites came to the neighborhood with guns to drive out residents
Again and again, outside forces continue to shrink the size of the CID.
A smaller CID means fewer people and residents, fewer businesses, fewer voters, and therefore less political power and less funding.
Yes, size is a big deal in the CID.
On top of that, this latest Sound Transit project is a threat to the overall health of residents, especially the elderly.
Life expectancy in the CID averages 79 years, which is seven years less than the longest life expectancy experienced elsewhere in King County, according to data from Public Health-Seattle & King County.
The project will bring increased noise. Sound Transit told the Northwest Asian Weekly that noise levels are expected to be between 84 and 88 dBA at a distance of 50 feet for station construction. The American Academy of Audiology states that over 85 dB for extended periods can cause permanent hearing loss.
Not to mention pollution.
The CID, along the Yesler Terrace, rank in the top 1% most disproportionately impacted areas in the region, with high traffic volumes and more air pollution-related hospitalizations (asthma, COPD, cardiac-related) than 99% of other neighborhoods in the region, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
This new construction project would mean dump trucks coming to the CID to multiple staging areas, where tunnel dirt is extracted and loaded, every 10 to 15 minutes up to 21 hours a day. It will mean a line of trucks waiting on 6th Avenue, virtually all hours of the day perhaps with their engines idling—generating more air pollution in a neighborhood with one of the most vulnerable populations in the city.
For generations, the CID has endured the brunt of major changes in the city.
When does the pain end or at least, get shared by other (wealthier? whiter?) neighborhoods?