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Ask for a fairer solution


by CAPAA

Dear Executive Constantine and Congressman McDermott,

The Washington State Council of Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA) is concerned about the impact of the proposed development in Seattle’s Chinatown International District (CID) and its implementation process. CAPAA’s role is to improve the lives of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (ANHPI) Washingtonians by identifying and examining issues affecting ANHPI communities and promoting changes in policies and programs to improve their quality of life. The Legislature also charged CAPAA under RCW 43.117.080 with establishing the necessary relationships with local governments to promote equal opportunity and benefit for ANHPI Washingtonians. Members of various ANHPI communities from across Washington state have expressed concerns about proposed developments in and near CID that could undermine the historic integrity and vitality of the community.

CID has long been a cultural pillar of the ANHPI community across the state.

Washington once had historic Chinatowns in Pierce, Spokane and Yakima counties.

Due to a history of systemic racism, exclusion, and obliteration, Seattle’s CID is now the only remaining Chinatown in Washington state and the Pacific Northwest. People of Asian descent from all walks of life have established businesses and residences in CID, defining the community as a vibrant showcase of ANHPI heritage and history, with art, restaurants, festivals and cultural institutions such as the Wing Luke Museum. If Washington is to deliver on its promise to be a welcoming place for minorities and immigrants, then we must keep the CID strong. We must break the cycle of systemic racism that keeps minorities out of their historic homes and businesses.

CAPAA’s concerns stem in part from our public board meeting on September 17, where we heard commissioners and community members from across the state express their concerns about CID’s demolition of historic buildings to expand the Sound Transit Center and put homeless shelters The amount concentrated in and around the CID is disproportionate to any other community in Seattle and King County. Community members asked why the county government was placing an unequal and heavy burden on this vulnerable community to ease countywide transportation and homelessness challenges without first obtaining community input. Community members worry that these developments will undermine the character of the community and exacerbate existing socioeconomic disparities.

Of particular concern to community members is the community engagement process—or lack thereof—to treat directly affected communities as an afterthought. Taking community input into account and using it to develop solutions to our region’s challenges will only lead to better strategies and fairer outcomes. Ignoring input, or not providing meaningful pathways for it in the first place, does harm to vulnerable communities and people who have traditionally been excluded from decision-making processes. The Metropolitan Kings County Council recently held a meeting to discuss the “megaplex” housing project, but did not provide translation services for the more than 200 Cantonese speakers. Such insufficient participation may repeat historical injustices as a form of displacement and disenfranchisement of minority businesses and families akin to redlining and internment.

We kindly ask your office to suspend the progress of the project until there is a strong community input process. Promote an inclusive process to plan a more equitable solution that meets the needs of all directly involved populations, including CID residents, businesses, and the homeless. These community members all have to meet their needs.

Sincerely,

– Toshiko Hasegawa
executive Director

-Nan Nguyen
Chair

CC:
Lydia Moira Faitalia, First Vice President of CAPAA (King County)
Julio Diaz, Second Vice-President of CAPAA (King County)
CAPAA Commissioner/Port of Seattle Commissioner Sam Cho (King County)
CAPAA Commissioner Lalita Uppala (King County)
CAPAA Commissioner Ekkarath Sisavatdy (King County)
CAPAA Commissioner Va’eomatoka Valu (King County)
CAPAA Commissioner Kendall Kosai (Pierce County)
CAPAA Commissioner Chongsun Abbott (Pierce County)
CAPAA Commissioner/Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu (Whatcom County)
CAPAA Commissioner Carrie Huie Pascua (Yakima County)
CAPAA Commissioner Ping Ping (Spokane County)



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