By Patty Fong
Thanks to recent letters from Ms. Bettie Luke and Mr. Lawrence Matsuda about Sound Transit’s plan for the Chinatown-International District (CID), we now have a thorough idea of the history of racist land grabs and social marginalization onslaughts on the CID and also have a good list of suitable dis-impacting alternatives that would save the CID.
I’m calling on Mayor Bruce Harrell and the Seattle City Council to support this historic, supposedly protected immigrant community—the only one of its kind—in Seattle.
The CID is currently being mercilessly and tragically squeezed to death by a thousand cuts by Sound Transit, King County Metro, and the City of Seattle.
However, I am also calling out business owners and community organizations that should be doing more to address the present and growing problems of violent crime, graffiti, trash, drug use, and tent encampments.
We know how Sound Transit is putting the squeeze on an already marginalized neighborhood.
Have you tried to catch a bus recently along South Jackson Street? At bus stop #3600 (now abruptly closed by King County Metro), drug addicts and other vagrants were monopolizing this shelter. No one else can use it. I filed a complaint online and it has been subsequently closed.
Metro closed the bus stop on the controversial corner of 12th & Jackson and moved it across the street to the west. It is continuously full of trash lately and now addicts are squatting there, using and selling presumably stolen goods to fund their habits.
Most of the drug use I’ve witnessed is in the Little Saigon area. I see drug activity underneath the second floor level of Joyale Seafood Restaurant. I’ve seen suspicious loitering in the massive garage of this building. The now closed New Saigon Deli shop has been taken over by users out in the open.
Little Saigon is full of massage parlors and litter. People sweep sidewalk trash into the trees. The tree plantings are untended with overgrown grass, as well as trash. What kind of message does this send to visitors, tourists, and residents?
The City’s Navigation Center, with its ‘harm reduction’ policies, is located in Little Saigon. I strongly suspect this is the source of vandalism and drug-seeking activity. It never should have been located there, and a school is very close by.
Just yards away from the notorious corner of 12th & Jackson are at least two low-income housing projects—one of them belonging to LIHI.
If the CID/Little Saigon is to be the go-to for social experiments such as these, the least the City and County can do is mitigate the consequences and effects. But benign neglect and indifference show this is not the case. Why? Because of cultural and political racism.
The CID is not a dumping ground! It is an immigrant community already beset by drugs, violent crime, absentee landlords (of buildings full of graffiti), poverty, struggling small independent businesses trying to survive after the pandemic, boarded up windows, trash on the streets, fewer Asian-owned small businesses, and other consequences of deep marginalization and neglect, exacerbated by racism and indifference.
Mayor Harrell, your mother Rose used to have a flower shop in the CID and you, yourself are Japanese American, as well as a Black man. Where is your support?
We must not only protect the CID from all these onslaughts, we must infuse the CID with assistance for small business, protection from crime and drugs. We need better bus route planning and maintenance, and trash and graffiti elimination.
What is happening in the CID and Little Saigon is appalling but completely preventable.
Is Seattle up to it?