Letter to the Editors – Seattle Post-Inteligence

In Cộng Đồng, LittleSaigon - Seattle on 2008/07/18 at 19:50

By Hieu Nguyen

Published on July 20, 2008

I’m a Washington resident since 1980, 24 years in Olympia and 4 years in Seattle. I’ve commuted to International District/Little Saigon for shopping and connecting with people who shops, works, and/or lives there. It’s not just a shopping district or market, it’s also a communal public space to me.

I come to Little Saigon to shop for food stuffs that not available anywhere, to see accountants who do income tax that charge little (since we don’t earn that much), to see doctors and dentists who is willing to accept Medicare and Medical coupons (mostly turns down by others), to get herbal medicines from traditional healers, to have hairdressers who banters in native languages.

For those 28 years that I’ve lived here I see very little investment from the City to Little Saigon, mostly cosmetic, a few signs, warning street lights, and some pole sculptures.

The City has many “strategic”, “vision” plans over the years (some far back more than 10 years ago) with wonderful recommendations for the Chinatown/International District, from cultural, economic, housing, safety objectives but there is not much to show for. The city has spent millions of dollars on consultants and own staff for those “studies” and “plans” but they are just plans. Besides, the planners don’t truly involve the people who will be impacted by those plans.

Many small merchants and business owners have paid with sweat labors over the years to build a vibrant economic environment serving low-income people without any help from the City. They paid their taxes but not getting much of the services, being neglected for years.

Now, the developers look at Little Saigon and vicinity as the prize to capture and city planners who aid the bidding. They tout such a “Livable” South Downtown. Livable to whom? Not the service workers and low-income residents. They want to capitalize on land values and it’s theirs to claim. The promises of so called “win-win” development is really a big WIN to big developers who plan to build big mall such as TRF Pacific and Ravenhurst Developments for the proposed Dearborn/Goodwill project. They will build a building for Goodwill, but definitely none of the Goodwill workers can afford to live there. The losers are also next door Little Saigon business owners who will be under displacement threat due to rent increase, traffic, and low capital to compete. Big box and formula retail in the area will overwhelm and dilute the unique Little Saigon cultural identity.

Upzoning and big development in the closeby area of Little Saigon will overwhelm and swallow it displacing existing residents and merchants. We should develop the area in a responsible and ethical way that support open space, green streets, parks, transit-oriented transportation, pedestrians and bicyclists, low-income and truly affordable housing.

Another letter to the Seattle PI editors – 09/3/08

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