Archive for Tháng Chín, 2008|Monthly archive page

Personal testimony at the Hearing on Rezoning

In Cộng Đồng, LittleSaigon - Seattle on 2008/09/22 at 17:08

September 22, 2008

Hearing Examiner

700 5th Ave, Suite 4000

PO Box 94729

Seattle, WA 98124-4729


Public Testimony on the Dearborn Project—a proposal for 1400 South Dearborn Street by Darell Vange, Ravenhurst Development, Application Number 3001242

Madam Examiner and Council Members:

My name is Quynh-Tram H. Nguyen, and beside me is my husband, Hieu Nguyen. We are currently residents of Seattle. We have been the engaged community members and organizers in different residences from Orange County, California, to Olympia and Seattle. Since 1982, my husband had served on the board of the Vietnamese Mutual Association of Olympia, the Thurston County Refugee Center, and as the school principal of the Hung Vuong—a Vietnamese Language School in Olympia. I myself had worked as licensed family psychotherapist for 6 years serving a diverse population of Caucasian, Vietnamese, Latino, and other South East Asian origins. Before becoming a Seattle resident, I also served as the Co-Chair of a non-profit organization named Vietnamese American Human Services Association (VAHSA). In addition, since 1994 I have been a grassroots activist within the Asian community where I has followed my passion for empowering and advocating for women and children. I am currently pursuing my doctoral study at the University of Washington. My teaching/research focuses on the intersection of Performance Studies and Community Development of the Vietnamese diaspora. Finally yet importantly, we are both currently peace activist and regular volunteers at the Vietnamese Senior Association of Seattle.

Today, we are making a public statement regarding the Dearborn Project. We have been interested in the development of its proposal since 2006. Eventually, we have intensively engaged with other Vietnamese Americans and neighborhood activists about this “so-called development” project since the beginning of this year. We are concerning about the Vietnamese Americans’—especially the impacted merchants’—lack of thorough understanding of this Dearborn project with complex procedures and processes. We also believe that they did not have enough opportunities to understand and provide their own input about the negative impacts of the Dearborn project. Certainly, there is little decent public engagement for the Vietnamese community regarding an extensive review process about the project. Therefore, we urge you to (1) consider the serious impacts of the project and to ensure it is adequately conditioned in your recommendation to the City Council; (2) not to approve the rezone because of impacts due to the inconsistency with the City Comprehensive plan; and (3) ensure the rezone recommendation be brought back to Department of Planning and Development (DPD) so that more adequate and complete analyses and recommendations could be made before it goes to the City Council.

We are very concerned about the causes and psychological consequences of gentrification due to this huge mall project scale and scope. We examine through different means on how this rezoning project would affect the Vietnamese merchants as well as residents in and beyond Little Saigon area. Attached is a copy of our research with all the highlighted media pieces of a three-year period. These articles demonstrated the majority of legitimate opinions and concerns against gentrification until very recently. In spite of lack of public assistance, we have worked constantly to educate ourselves and then attempted to inform the Vietnamese about these urban development issues. Why do we care, you would ask? We care because displacement is a serious phenomenon that we never desire for anyone to experience again. In fact, both I and my husband (as the majority of Vietnamese Americans) were displaced within our own country due to the war impacts and before the Vietnam War was over, and subsequently displaced from Vietnam to stay in the limbo state within Southeast Asia refugee camps prior to our migration to the United States. We were called the “boat people” finally coming to America with our empty hand and yet enormous hope for freedom of expression and better livelihood.

As the US citizens, we are eager in contributing to our new homeland while sustaining and nurturing our four-thousand-year cultural roots. Wherever we resettle, we consciously seek Little Saigon to come and connect with others in various ways. There is no doubt that Little Saigon made us feel home. We cultivate this symbolic home through everyday memories and collective engagement in our new adaptation. Overall, Little Saigon demonstrates how its unique life benefits diverse groups of individuals: refugees with limited English gain employment, Vietnamese elders find comfort, and “Americanized” immigrants and their children connect with ancestral culture. The non-Vietnamese neighborhood residents also expressed to us their appreciation toward Little Saigon of Seattle for having their basic needs (i.e. groceries) met at modest prices. Furthermore, in Little Saigon visitors are welcomed as customers to encounter qualities formerly experienced only through travel to other countries.

Our sense of belonging is often strengthened through Little Saigon’s tangible senses of taste, smell, sound, and sight not readily available anywhere else. It is a place where we can interact as a visible majority and openly practice cultural activities. Little Saigon is often regarded as a new form of urban village that offers an extended family where the lonely refugees, even if briefly, can be accepted. It allows all the engaged (regardless of social sector and ethnicity) to perceive the unique cultural character that the Vietnamese, as the minority group members, contribute to the US and provide the City of Seattle with substantial tax revenues. In other words, this area adjacent to the Seattle Chinatown affords us and many other Vietnamese a well recognized public identity and a sense of “being in the right place”—in spite of the perpetuation of stereotypes, erosion of ethnic boundaries and persistent forms of specialized crime that threaten the areas’ success and yield negative perceptions of the areas’ ethnic groups.

Due to such attachment to the Little Saigon of Seattle, we have made effort to organize public awareness gatherings regarding its current predicament. In addition, we utilized a street theater event on June 13, 2008, to raise communal attention on the impacts of the Dearborn project. As the result, attached to this public testimony is our postcard sample that we used to collect more than 500 signatures mostly signed by the Vietnamese Americans. The number of signatures is not a huge but significant one. It does strongly indicate that these signers are courageous. If you understand the impacts of their historical trauma, you would understand the weight of each signature. One signature could represent hundred of signatures. Because of many political upheavals and abusive governments in Vietnam as well as their subsequent displacement trauma, the Vietnamese Americans have become very cautious in providing any signatures. The signatures on these postcard show the acts of concerned citizens who care very much about Little Saigon. They took risks to confirm their opposition of not having a voice in the process. All of these postcard signatures will be forwarding to the Seattle Department of Transportation within a couple of weeks as our recommendation for better and thorough analyses prior to any City action.

To obtain a basic understanding of the merchants’ needs and wants, we ourselves conducted a preliminary survey with them in the Little Saigon of Seattle. Almost all the merchants are renters. They shared that they are not aware, being informed, or even mis-informed about the impacts and/or the remedial benefits declared in the Dearborn Agreement with the developers. Being caught with daily survival and deal with many barriers (such as language, class, technological skill, waves of migration, etc.) have prevented them to involve in this public review process in order to advocate for themselves and protect their rights. The expressions were often conveyed to us are the following: many fears of intimidation, lots of confusion and apathy, and/or being very skeptical toward the offering benefits as the developer’s true concerns about their possible plight of displacement. They could not imagine how life would become if the project is approved without any consideration for justice. Attached to our public testimony is the list of the merchants we have talked to during this preliminary survey.

In fact, the merchants’ real concerns are increasing rent, loss of customers due to congested traffic , and erasing their cultural space . Moreover, many Vietnamese in Seattle and surrounding cities (from Everett, Bellevue, Kent, Tacoma, Olympia, …) who converge to the Little Saigon as their public space have grave concern on loss of cultural history and identity . The out-of-scale, out-of-character shopping mall will overwhelm the “little” Saigon, squeeze the neighborhood, and displace them. This encroachment and resulting displacement will not have just the negative economic impact. The displacement would cause a psychological health impact , particularly to the seniors, who grounded in Little Saigon as their home away from homeland. The area already is sufficiently zoned for retail. Those shopping districts should be allowed to develop organically and not induced to face an intervened competition due to this newly created super-size commercial district.

The DPD did not outreach sufficiently to a wide Vietnamese community on the negative impacts. The outreach has been oriented to elite group participation. In other words, the elaborate hierarchical representative structures have not achieved a sense of empowering or inclusion for less involved residents and ethnic communities. Moreover, the PDP did not have a systematic analysis of health consequences from effects on multi-layered factors such as displacement; land use density, design, and diversity; and public infrastructure.

In sum, we urge the Hearing Examiner not approve the rezone because of the serious impacts to the neighborhoods, and they are inconsistent with the City Comprehensive plan for the following reasons:

(1) Incompatibility with Neighborhood Character. This out-of-scale and out-of-character urban super-regional mall with major national retail chains as the major commercial mix right next to a tiny Little Saigon will overwhelm the Vietnamese cultural and public space. We therefore believe that this project is incompatible in scope, scale and nature with the existing fabric of the Little Saigon/International District, which is composed of small ethnically owned businesses. Moreover, the project is incompatible with the future vision for the ID community, as expressed through the ID’s participation in the Livable South Downtown planning process.

(2) Traffic Impacts. Increased congestion to the area will add to the existing problems of traffic and parking, especially in the Little Saigon area, which could result in a loss of local and regional patronage to the area’s businesses. Majority of Little Saigon patrons are out-of-area Vietnamese residents yet converge to the Little Saigon area to do shopping and business and attending cultural events. They will not bother to come when traffic getting worse.

(3) Overflow Parking. The overflow parking will influence tremendously the already crowded Little Saigon. The city paid research already indicated that business in Little Saigon has been negatively impacted since the implementation of Safeco Field and the Quest Field. Business is down during game days, particularly on weekend.

(4) Insufficient Outreach. There is not sufficient outreach to the Vietnamese merchants and other engaged citizens in the Little Saigon area. They are either completely not informed or mis-informed on the impacts and remedial benefits. (please see the attached survey and relevant testimonies)

We are submitting signatures of all individuals and organization representatives who agreed with our above reasons—explained in previous public meeting and now in this public testimony. Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully yours,

Quynh-Tram H. Nguyen & Hieu Nguyen


Public Testimony re Dearborn Project by Prof. Lynne Manzo

In Cộng Đồng, LittleSaigon - Seattle on 2008/09/22 at 11:00

Public Testimony

on the

Dearborn Project

provided by

Lynne C. Manzo, PhD

Environmental Psychologist

September 22, 2008

My name is Dr. Lynne Manzo. I am a resident of Seattle and I am an Environmental Psychologist. While I am also a professor at the University of Washington, I am testifying today in my capacity as an environmental psychologist and a private citizen.  My particular area of expertise is in the lived experience of place – this includes the study of place identity, sense of place and sense of community, and those dimensions of the physical environment that make a place more desirable and livable.

Today, I am making a statement in response to the City of Seattle Analysis and Recommendation of the Director of the Department of Planning and Development” on Application Number 3001242, a proposal for 1400 South Dearborn Street by Darell Vange, Ravenhurst Development. My comments also refer to the project designs for “Dearborn Street,” “Design Review Board #8” dated July 24, 2007.

In its recommendation, the Dept of Planning and Development has not fully defined or explored the project impacts nor has it completely conditioned the project to address impacts as they are required to do by the Municipal Code.  A project of this magnitude should be carefully and fully examined. I therefore respectfully urge the Hearing Examiner and the City Council not to approve the proposed Dearborn Project until further investigation is made into the following areas and steps are taken to better address these issues in the design:

I. Impact on Cultural Vitality of Surrounding Communities

  • Greater consideration of the neighborhood context, and the impact of the development on the community from a socio-cultural perspective and on its cultural vitality is essential. This includes examining the effects of the development on the place identity, and sense of place of the adjacent communities as cultural landscapes.
  • Census data and other research show that the surrounding communities, composed mainly of immigrants and ethnic minorities (see Figures 1-5), have unique needs and concerns, including the need for culturally-specific and appropriate goods and services and there is no evidence for the adequate consideration or provision of this in the current proposal.
  • The site of the proposed development lies immediately south of “Little Saigon” or the western portion of the Chinatown-International District.  This district is a critical ethnic enclave which has historically served to mitigate negative psychological impacts of the displacement of refugees and immigrants, has provided alternative and culturally appropriate economic structures for immigrants and has facilitated the preservation of cultural traditions (Mazumdar et al, 2000).  Research other Little Saigons in California shows that a culturally-sensitive built architectural environment is critical for fostering community identity and immigrant adaptation (Mazumdar et al, 2000).
  • Figure * shows the percentage of foreign-born residents in the area surrounding the site, and Figure * shows the . The above-mentioned findings on immigrant adaptation, certainly apply to Seattle’s Chinatown-International District and Jackson Place neighborhoods, both of which are occupied by foreign born residents. The development as proposed does not take this reality into account in any demonstrable way.
  • Research also demonstrates particularly strong concerns among local residents, business owners and community leaders that neighborhood revitalization efforts reflect the fabric of the area as a cultural landscape.  (see especially Abramson, Manzo and Hou, 2006). This development does not reflect the local cultural landscape in any measurable way.
  • The proposal states that provisions would be made for “neighborhood-oriented shops” (Analysis & Recommendation of the Director of DPD for APPLICATION NO. MUP 3001242 p 3) yet what this means exactly is not made clear. There is no provision or mechanism in place that would ensure that local small-business owners would gain these smaller retail spaces, rather than other generic chain stores.  A Sunglass Hut is rather different from, and serves a different clientele than, a Vietnamese resident-owned small appliance shop, for example.
  • Census data and the site’s proximity to the Yesler Terrace public housing development demonstrate a need for affordable goods and services. Research shows that the poor fare badly in the big-box economy (Mitchell, 2006). In contrast to the popular idea that such stores offer more affordable products, a 2005 Consumer Reports study indicates that independent shops can offer better prices than their large chain counterparts. This supports findings from a 2003 Consumer Reports study that independent pharmacists provided a higher level of health care and personal attention than that offered by chain drugstores.
  • Impact on low-income immigrant communities – Research reveals that small business owners can thrive in ethnic enclaves which offer mini-economies that facilitate economic integration into the host country (Portes & Manning, 1986). The introduction of chain superstores may threaten these local mini-economies.
  • Based on the research data cited above, it is evident that culturally considerate and economically appropriate neighborhood developments are a matter of social and environmental justice.

II. Impact on Community Identity and Sense of Community

  • Put info from Hummon here:  Research on Community Identity indicates that it is `grounded in both social integration and environmental experience’ and “appears to build particularly on the personal meanings of life experiences and the public images of local culture” (Hummon, 1992, p. 262). The current proposal
  • The City of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan for Managing Growth 2004-2024 states the following goals:

“Create strong and successful commercial and mixed-use areas that encourage business creation, expansion and vitality by allowing for a mix of business activities, while maintaining compatibility with the neighborhood-serving character of business districts, and the character of surrounding areas.”  (p 62 – LUG17)

“Prioritize the preservation, improvement and expansion of existing commercial areas over the creation of new business districts.” (p 62 – LU103).

The scale of the proposed project, particularly its reliance on national and international retain chains, currently stands in contrast to these stated goals (See Section III below for details of research demonstrating this)

III.  Impact of the Scale of the Project – Human Experience of the Streetscape

  • Further examination of the appropriateness of the scale of the project for the surrounding community, based on empirical evidence (research) on environmental perception and the need for human-scale streetscapes.
  • The project contains 696,000 square feet of retail.  The majority of that retail space is dedicated to stores that are 17,000 square feet or larger. The Target store alone is almost 170,000 square feet – a size close to all the existing retail in Little Saigon combined.  A project of this scale is completely out of character and scale for this neighborhood.
  • Scientific evidence on environmental perception and the pedestrian experience of the streetscape indicates that large, monolithic projects are more readily perceived as insular and disconnected to the larger community (Gratz & Mintz, 1998; Jacobs, 1995; Project for Public Spaces; 2000)
  • The proposed project includes 72,000 sq. ft. of structured plazas, private sidewalks, and private streets, and while it is stated that these are both internal to the site and open to the public, the design plans show that many more are internally oriented to the site.  For example, elevated walkways and seating areas that do not connect well to the street and consequently a smooth flow of pedestrian movement. Moreover, those spaces that are open to the public are either not well placed or do not include the valuable amenities that decades of environmental psychology research on public spaces suggests is needed for successful urban public space (Whyte, 1980; Project for Public Spaces, 2000; Carr et al, 1992).
  • Plop n’ Drop – Research indicates that larger-scale development projects such as the proposed Dearborn project that are built all at once, face greater challenges in fitting into the neighborhood context than the more organic development of Main Streets that evolve over time and are revitalized, and that reflect a strategy that some scholars have  called “urban husbandry.”  (Gratz & Mintz, 1998).
  • Human Activity – Formal, written Design Review Board priorities include a concern that “New Development should be sited and designed to encourage human activity on the street.” (Analysis & Recommendation of the Director of DPD for APPLICATION NO. MUP 3001242 p 5).  More can be done in the current proposal to ensure that human activity on the street is encouraged, not the least of which involves curtailing the further accommodation of vehicular traffic. As the Design Commission has previously noted, it is important for the proposed project not to “degrade the pedestrian experience.”
  • Design in Relation to Human Activity on the Street – On the one hand, the Review Board approved transparency requirements along Rainier Avenue, recommending that there be “an accompanying condition that the areas lacking transparency be treated with high quality architectural materials.” On the other hand, the Board also approved the “departure from the prohibition against placing a loading dock along the Rainier Ave.” These recommendations seem somewhat contradictory; increased vehicular traffic at the loading docks will diminish transparency, even if below grade. Moreover, it is not clear how green walls and different façade textures will facilitate transparency.
  • Human Scale – The Design Review Board also states that “The design of new buildings should incorporate architectural features, elements and details to achieve a good human scale.”  (Analysis & Recommendation of the Director of DPD for APPLICATION NO. MUP 3001242 p 5).  However, the current proposal allows for design elements that are decidedly not to human scale. For example, signs for the anchor superstores are allowed to be720 square feet and 250 square feet, a scale that is clearly not pedestrian or human oriented but geared to vehicular traffic, particularly on nearby highways.  Not only is this not to human scale it is evident that such signs and stores are clearly not catering to the local neighborhood market.
  • People-Oriented Open Space Guidelines – Research based open space guidelines call for sittable space, (Whyte, 1980; Marcus and Francis, 1990) openness to the surrounding context MORE HERE…. [check the ped walkway mentioned in Analysis & Recommendation of the Director of DPD for APPLICATION NO. MUP 3001242 p 9]

Based on the above data, I remand the recommendation back to the Department of Planning and Development so that a more adequate and complete analysis and recommendation can be made before this proposal goes to Council.


Literature for the Public Hearing

on the

Dearborn Project


Provided by

Lynne C. Manzo, PhD

Environmental Psychologist

September 22, 2008



List of Figures

Figure 1

Racial breakdown in the Chinatown-International District as compared to the remainder of Washington State reflecting the majority presence of ethnic minorities in the area near the Dearborn site

Figure 2

Map of foreign-born Asians in and around the Dearborn site, including Chinatown-International District and Jackson Place

Figure 3

Percent Asian Population in and around Dearborn site, including Chinatown-International District and Jackson Place neighborhoods

Figure 4.

Ancestry of Asian Population in and around the Dearborn Site

Figure 5

Years of Entry for the Foreign-born Population of the International District

Illustrating that many residents are recent immigrants.

Figure 6

Percent of Households with No Earnings in 1999

Demonstrating Extent of Low Income Households in Vicinity of Dearborn Project Site

Figure 7

Percentage of Families Below the Poverty Level

Public Testimony of Huỳnh Kim Anh – Báo Bia Miệng

In Cộng Đồng, LittleSaigon - Seattle on 2008/09/22 at 10:15

Anh K. Huynh

22505 56th Ave. W

Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043

September 21, 2008

Hearing Examiner

700 5th Ave

Suite 4000

PO Box 94729

Seattle WA 98124-4729

Re:         The Dearborn Project, 1400 South Dearborn Street, proposed by Darell Vange, Ravenhurst Development

Dear Madam Examiner and City Council Members:

My name is Anh Huynh. I am a resident of Mountlake Terrace and a Seventh Day Adventist.  I do bible teaching to the Vietnamese-Americans in the Seattle area. I have many conversations with them and understand their deep concerns and cultivated interests in the matter related to the Dearborn/Goodwill project.  We share the same feelings and awareness in maintaining and promoting the vital cultural characteristics of Little Saigon. It appears meager but gradually blossoming in contribution to the diversity of the City of Seattle.

In its recommendation DPD has not fully defined the project impacts nor clearly or completely conditioned the project to address impacts as they are required to do by the Municipal Code.  A project–as large and complicated as this one–should be carefully and fully examined.  Here are just the three impacts that come to my minds:

o   Significant traffic will be added into already congested arterials. Heavy traffic discourages the Vietnamese Americans from coming to Little Saigon for shopping, attending cultural and religious activities.

o   Bus service in the area are not capable to handle the demands of such an immense project. A large part of Vietnamese elders are currently using bus to attend churches and temples right in the Little Saigon and Jackson Place.

o   Introduction of formula retail and big box into an area that is primarily ethnic and small business. This will efface the unique characters of an organically growing commercial district where small merchants provide cultural-specific and appropriate goods and services.

We urge that the Hearing Examiner and Council members consider the impacts of the project and to ensure that they are fully addressed before approval.

Sincerely yours,

Anh K. Huynh

Public Testimony of Debbie Nguyen – Vietnamese Student Association of Washington (VSAWA)

In Cộng Đồng, LittleSaigon - Seattle on 2008/09/22 at 10:00

September 21, 2008

Hearing Examiner

700 5th Ave

Suite 4000

PO Box 94729

Seattle, WA 98124-4729

Re:          Public Testimony on the Dearborn Project—Application Number 3001242, a proposal for 1400 South Dearborn Street by Darell Vange, Ravenhurst Development

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Debbie Nguyen.  I would like to make a public statement in response to the proposed Dearborn Project.  I am currently the President for the Vietnamese Student Association of Washington (VSAWA), an umbrella organization that encompasses the many Vietnamese Student College Clubs throughout the state of Washington. The student organization is formed to help the Vietnamese community in terms of educational needs, such as finding tutors for Vietnamese youths, as well as to help the Vietnamese community when they are facing barriers such as lack of awareness for their surroundings and support.

I am also a senior student at Seattle University. Although my major at the university is nowhere near the involvement in studying the community or social aspects of life, my heart far extends out to any concerns regarding the Vietnamese community and its needs.  Being born in the United States as a Vietnamese-American provides me with much hope that I can very well help the Vietnamese people because language is not a barrier.

Upon hearing about the Dearborn Street Project and the concerns raised from the Vietnamese community, Jesse Robbins who, at the time was a part of the Vietnamese American Economic Development Association (VAEDA) asked for VSAWA’s involvement in the collection of signatures to fight against the Dearborn Street Project.  Four other students and I stayed from 4 to 7 hours at the International District Fair in April of 2007 explaining to the Asian community our concerns and the impacts of the Dearborn Street Project on the community.  Attached is one of many photos about the VSAWA engagement with the Vietnamese community in Little Saigon at that critical time for better awareness and action.

My concern is not about what stores would be placed in the present Goodwill area. I don’t care about the big stores in the Goodwill area; I can shop elsewhere to get the same stores. My concern is, however, about this Dearborn Mall size and scale that would affect the livelihood of Little Saigon.  This surrounding neighborhood with small shops would face being displaced in spite of their contribution in the area for more than twenty five years.  Little Saigon is an area of residence with its own unique life for many Vietnamese and Chinese people, especially the small merchants and Vietnamese in general.  It is the area where you can buy authentic Vietnamese food for cheaper prices; this is the area where you can get dental and medical care for a cheaper price or even on a sliding scale for low-income people.  Little Saigon is also an area where you can buy rice, (not minute-rice) that is actually from Asia, not from California, and you can also purchase CDs that aren’t in English.

These items are culturally unique to the Vietnamese culture. These items are rarely found anywhere else in Washington State but in the area we call, “Little Saigon.” That is because this is the designated area of our culture for a couple of decades.

I attended a Vietnamese summer fair (also called Hoi Cho Vui He 2008) organized in the school ground of Bailey Gatzert School in Little Saigon earlier this September.  For those of you who also attended this summer fair, you would see that close to a thousand Vietnamese people from all parts of the state attended this fair. This fair shows that the Vietnamese community does exist. Their life is here. That fair is only one example of how our culture is being alive.

Part of being in the Vietnamese Student Association of Washington (VSAWA) has taught me that when you lose culture, you lose your people.  My fear as a young child was always that one day, I would encounter another Vietnamese individual and would not be able to understand, let alone speak my own language. I hope this letter can provide you with a better understanding of the wishes of many Vietnamese individuals and families.  The businesses that lie along Jackson, that are situated in the Little Saigon-International District area are their life, their culture.  Please do not approve the proposed Dearborn Project until further investigation and thorough solutions on how to prevent the imminent threat of many Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Chinese displacements.  Please do not let the Vietnamese community lose their culture.   Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Debbie Nguyen



In Cộng Đồng, Chính trị (Politics), LittleSaigon - Seattle on 2008/09/14 at 07:36

Ghi chú::

Mặc dù cuộc họp ngày 13/9/2008 của chúng tôi đã không được thực hiện như ý muốn–nhất là việc trong vòng hơn tiếng đồng hồ đầu tiên phải đối diện với các xáo loạn gây ra từ ông Phạm Huy Sảnh, Tăng Phước Trọng, và Phan Rang, chúng tôi vẫn đối thoại trong ôn hòa với họ, nhưng giữ vững lập trường trước sau như một. Việc chống chỉnh trang đô thị và các hoạt động không minh bạch của các nhóm ký giao kèo với tập đoàn xây cất, chuyện tin tức ký kết thỏa thuận này lại về Việt Nam mau chóng trong khi các tiểu thương trong khu Little Saigon Seattle và cộng đồng lại không được thông báo trực tiếp, v.v… là việc cần làm trước khi có điều trần (hearing) ngày 22/9/2008. Chúng tôi đã bắt đầu cuộc họp này của mình với Câu chuyện 5 người bạn và 5 kẻ thù ( Tale of Five Friends and Five Enemies“) như đã hoạch định.

Ông Tăng Phước Trọng sau đó đã chính thức (1) tiếm danh cộng đồng (dùng tên hội tư của mình để tự đại diện cộng đồng) và thề trong buổi điều trần tại tòa Thị Sảnh ngày 22/9/2008 là ông ủng hộ Phòng Thương Mại, và không chống đề án Dearborn 300 triệu của tập đoàn xây cất Ravenhurst; và (2) sau đó đến tham gia tiệc tùng tại nhà hàng Saigon Bistro (của ông Nguyễn Minh Tâm) với Phòng Thương Mại (WaVA) vào tối thứ ba ngày 30/9/2009. Đây là cơ hội cho WaVA tìm cách “hoạt động hành lang” về tiền bán thí đường phố trong khu Goodwill cho dù WaVA quảng cáo là cho một buổi nói chuyện về Ngân sách thành phố, an ninh công cộng, và phát triển kinh tế. Cuộc tiệc này WaVA chiêu đãi ba nghị viên Jean Godden, Bruce Harrell, and Tim Burgess đã xảy ra một tuần sau ngày chúng tôi điều trần về tầm ảnh hưởng tiêu cực của thiết kế đô thị đề án Dearborn lên khu Tiểu Saigon.


Nhóm Hoạt Động Dân Chủ Xã Hội Vùng Tây Bắc

Seattle ngày 14 tháng 9 năm 2008

Đồng kính gởi:

Ông Tăng Phước Trọng,

Chủ tịch Cộng Đồng Người Việt Quốc Gia Tiểu Bang Washington

Ông Phạm Huy Sảnh,

Chủ tịch Liên Hội Cựu Quân Nhân QLVNCH Tiểu Bang Washington


Kính thưa ông Tăng Phước Trọng và Ông Phạm Huy Sảnh,

Sau khi quý hội kết thúc buổi họp ngày 6 tháng 9 năm 2008, chúng tôi Nguyễn Hiếu và Nguyễn Quỳnh-Trâm đã được phép trình bày các vấn đề liên hệ đến hai dự án thiết kế đô thị thành phố Seattle trong 15 phút. Với sự hỗ trợ của tất cả quý quan khách tham dự cũng như quý hội đoàn, chúng tôi sau đó đã gởi thông báo bằng điện thư và các phương tiện truyền thông đại chúng (báo chi, radio) mời tất cả các hội đoàn, tổ chức, nhân sĩ, và thương gia đến tham dự cuộc họp của chúng tôi tổ chức vào ngày thứ Bảy 13 tháng 9 năm 2008.

Dựa vào tôn chỉ cho quá trình sinh hoạt với tư cách độc lập từ trước đến nay, chúng tôi đứng riêng ra tổ chức buổi họp. Tuy nhiên, một sự kiện đã xảy ra trong buổi họp này. Quý vị đến tham dự cuộc họp và tuyên bố là người tổ chức, rồi đặt để gán ép cho chúng tôi là người đến thuyết trình. Quý hội đoàn vẫn nhất quyết không nhận hiểu sau khi đã có những phát biểu và dàn xếp của một số quan khách tham dự, và cho dù chúng tôi đã có tất cả những đơn từ chính thức chuyển lưu đến mọi người, cũng như đã có ghi danh tại thư viện Columbia trước ngày họp. Vì tôn trọng quý quan khách đến tham dự buổi họp nên chúng tôi quyết định không tiếp tục tranh luận (hay ấu đả), hoặc dùng những biện pháp hành chánh theo nội quy của thư viện. Chúng tôi đã ứng xử ôn hòa và tự trọng để mọi người tự phán xét qua những lời trình bày của chúng tôi và của quý vị.

Tiếp theo, chúng tôi thuyết trình về hai dự án và đề xuất phương án hành động. Đây là lần thứ ba chúng tôi trình bày trước tập thể công cộng và luôn có đính kèm thêm những bản tin, thư gởi qua điện thư cho tất cả các hội đoàn, tổ chức, cá nhân trong cộng đồng trong khả năng hạn hẹp của riêng bản thân chúng tôi. Như đã bao lần trước sau như một, chúng tôi không xưng danh đại diện cộng đồng, mà chỉ là người dóng tiếng nói để thông báo—ví như người đánh trống la làng khi thấy nhà bị cháy. Còn việc chữa cháy là việc của toàn dân trong làng xóm. Chúng tôi chỉ đấu tranh vì nhận thấy mình là một phần tử thuộc cộng đồng nên cần có trách nhiệm bổn phận, nhưng không hề dám khoác áo đấu tranh cho cộng đồng.

Chuyện cộng đồng là chuyện của tất cả các hội đoàn cũng như cá nhân, chứ không phải một hội đoàn hay một cá nhân được “ủy nhiệm”. Trách nhiệm riêng cá nhân chúng tôi tự khoác lấy áo làm người đưa tin–được nhiều chừng nào hay chừng ấy trong cộng đồng–đến đây là chấm dứt. Nay việc đánh trống, báo tin đã hoàn tất. Chúng tôi đã thu xếp dọn dẹp ra về sau khi trình bày xong vấn đề hai dự án thiết kế đô thị. Chúng tôi hoàn toàn không tham gia vào việc “bầu bán”, “đề cử” cho một “ủy ban” nào đó mà quý vị đặt ra.

Chúng tôi tin rằng quý vị cũng như cộng đồng người Việt đã có đủ thông tin, có kế hoạch cũng như nhân lực để bảo vệ quyền lợi của cộng đồng.

Trân trọng kính chào,

Nguyễn Hiếu

Nguyễn Hữu Quỳnh-Trâm

Bản tiếng Anh (English)

Letter to Vietnamese American Community of Washington State & Federation of RVN Arm Forces Associations

In Cộng Đồng, LittleSaigon - Seattle on 2008/09/14 at 07:00


In spite of unexpected yet induced disruptions caused by Mr. Sanh Pham, Trong Tang, and Rang Phan at the community meeting on September 13, 2008, we still held our ground and started our meeting with the Mexican popular folklore “Tale of Five Friends and Five Enemies” (Câu chuyện 5 người bạn và 5 kẻ thù) as planned.

Subsequently, we sent the below official letter to the Vietnamese community and these two groups whose representatives revealed disturbing behavior–their irrational insistence to occupy the meeting as if it were theirs!

These individuals’ disrupted action inevitably helped the disappearance of 100 flyers regarding the Dearborn Mall “investment” news posted on Tuoi Tre Online in Vietnam . These flyers were intended to share with the meeting audience but stolen immediately at the beginning of our meeting.  So here is our question: Why did Vietnamese investors in Vietnam receive the “investment” news (which was misleading however) before the merchants and other residents who would be affected the most due to their work and/or living in Little Saigon Seattle?

This public meeting also indicated the official switch from Mr. Tang who then testified at the Examiner Hearing on 9/22/2008 as if he represented and spoke on behalf of Vietnamese American community. He stated that he totally supported the developers and Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce (WaVA). On September 30th, 2008, about one week after our hearing, Mr. Tang went ahead to join WaVA who hosted an evening party at Saigon Bistro restaurant for City Council Members Tim Burgess, Jean Godden, and Bruce Harrell. Advertising as the Council talks on Public Safety, Economic Development, and the City Budget, it was in fact the chance for WaVA to lobby for the street vacation money for themselves.


Neighborhood Activists for Democracy & Social Justice – Northwest Region

Seattle, September 14th, 2008

To: Mr. Trong Phuoc Tang1 & Mr. Sanh Huy Pham2

1 President, Vietnamese American Community of Washington State

2 President, Federation of the Republic of Viet Nam Arm Force Associations

Dear Mr. Tang and Mr. Pham,

At the end of your meeting on September 6, 2008, we, Hieu Nguyen and Quynh-Tram Nguyen, had the extra 15-minute opportunity to brief everyone about some critical issues related to the two City of Seattle urban development projects. We were then encouraged by you and all other meeting participants for a thorough follow-up meeting we would organize on Saturday, September 13, 2008. Subsequently, we announced our letter of invitation to all merchants, concerned Vietnamese community members, your organizations and all other mutual associations of the Vietnamese American community via various means of communication—email, newspaper, and radio.

Based on our mission for non-partisan activism since the beginning, we organized this gathering as our own meeting. Yet, an incident occurred in that meeting. You came to the meeting and announced yourself as the recognized organizers, and imposed on us the presenter’s task. You refused to understand our mindful intent even after more than a dozen of participants’ expressions and proposed solutions for mutual agreement were revealed, and certainly, in spite of our wide-and-large public announcement and our official registration with the Columbia Public Library prior to our meeting. We decided not to proceed with a futile argument (or a shoving match), or even consider the use of external intervention from the library rules and regulations, because of our due respect for the engaging presence of all meeting participants. We had acted in even-tempered and self-respect manner the best we could for thoughts of both sides to be revealed, and at the same time, allow the participants to make their own observation and judgment on our rightful stand.

Eventually, we presented the two urban planning projects and proposed our preliminary action plan. This was our third attempt presenting to the public after sending community announcements via email and other mass media means, and of course, regardless of our own individual capacity and limitation. As always with grounded intent, we never act as the representative of the community, but the messenger. Just like the villager whose drum is used as an emergency call when the village is on fire. Extinguishing the fire requires the communal effort and collaboration of all villagers. We pursue social justice in this serious matter based on an awakening assumption of being the responsible and active community members, but never thinking and acting as for the community.

The Vietnamese community issues do belong to all members and groups, not from a single individual or a “commissioned” group. Our individual responsibility as the self-initiated messenger and doing the best we could is over. Our drumming call for emergency to alert everyone about the fire was carried out and done. We packed our things and left the library after completing our presentation regarding the two urban planning projects. We did not involve in your presumptuous “voting process”, or “delegation” in forming a “committee”.

We do believe that your groups and the Vietnamese American community have gained enough facts/information, and would have appropriate strategies and human resources to protect our community well-being including rights and benefits.

Respectfully yours,

Hieu Nguyen

Quynh-Tram Nguyen

Vietnamese Version

Thiết Kế Đô Thị khu Tiểu Sài Gòn – Chương trình nghị sự (Meeting Agenda, Sept 13, 2008)

In Cộng Đồng, LittleSaigon - Seattle on 2008/09/13 at 17:05

 Hai Đề Án Thiết Kế Đô Thị Liên Hệ Đến Khu Tiểu Sài Gòn

Urban Development Projects Concerning Little Saigon

Chương trình Nghị Sự

Meeting Agenda

Ngày 13 tháng 9 năm 2008 – 9/13/2008

2Pm – 4Pm

Trích đoạn phim tài liệu – A Film Excerpt (30 min)

New Orleans: A Village Called Versailles by S. Leo Chiang


Nghi thức khai mạc – Opening Ceremony (5 min)

Tuyên bố mục đích & Lý do buổi họp – Meeting Purpose (10 min) – Tôn chỉ tiến trình cuộc họp và cách thức làm việc

Tường trình Đề án Thiết Kế Đô Thị và Ảnh hưởng – Presentation of Urban Development Projects & Its Impact on Little Saigon (30 min)

Kế hoạch Hành Động Cụ Thể – Strategic Tasks (30 min)

   – Signatures

   – Group Lists & Volunteer Tasks

   – Donation issues

Thắc mắc và Góp Ý – Q & A and Comments (15 min)

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