SEATTLE – Seattle City Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2 – Southeast Seattle, Chinatown-International District, & Yesler Terrace) released the following statement this morning calling on the Sound Transit Board of Directors to preserve and protect the Chinatown-International District by moving forward with studying the North & South CID Station options as the preferred alternative in the West Seattle Ballard Link Extension (WSBLE). Sound Transit’s Board of Directors will be voting on Thursday, March 23rd to move a preferred alternative forward for study for the Ballard Link Extension stations and alignment.
“I am proud to stand alongside the broad coalition of CID community members and stakeholders who have been fighting for the Sound Transit Board of Directors to move forward with studying the North & South station option to protect and preserve the CID neighborhood,” said Morales.
“During my time in office, one of my priorities has been to hold Sound Transit accountable for repairing the harms of their infrastructure along Martin Luther King Jr. Way, deeply impacting the CID and Southend,” continued Morales. “There remains a lot of work to do on this. However, Sound Transit now has the opportunity to be intentional about its expansion and their impacts on an already vulnerable neighborhood.
“These past few months, I’ve been listening closely to the feedback from community members, small businesses, residents and workers, as well as Sound Transit’s guidance on risk assessment and transfer times for each option. While ridership experience is absolutely an important aspect of building a convenient and intuitive mass transit system, we as public leaders must reject any option that would result in the displacement of residents and local businesses from a neighborhood that has already been resisting and recovering from government-imposed projects for decades.
“I am calling upon the Sound Transit Board of Directors to move forward with studying the North & South CID Stations as the preferred alternative because it poses the least amount of harm and risk to the neighborhood. Additionally, I am calling on Sound Transit and my City & County partners to identify specific mitigation measures and work to deliver specific community benefits as early as possible in this process. I offer our office as a strong partner on activating Union Station, improving the Jackson Hub, and improving the pedestrian experience of this transit corridor, because this is long overdue.
“Regardless of the preferred alternative chosen by the Sound Transit Board of Directors, my office remains committed to listening and building relationships with all community stakeholders who have expressed their desires for the future of this neighborhood.”
Michael Byun, Executive Director of ACRS: “As an organization that serves low-income Asian residents across King County, ACRS has a responsibility to ensure that our communities have access to affordable housing, equitable transit options, and thriving and safe cultural neighborhoods. It is clear that the North and South option is best able to meet these intersecting needs – providing regional connectivity without the disruptive construction to an already vulnerable neighborhood that the 4th Ave option would bring. We urge the Sound Transit Board to listen to residents who fear for the destruction of their neighborhood and choose the North and South option.”
Pradeepta Upadhyay, Executive Director of InterIm CDA: “As an organization, we have served the CID community for over 50 years. In the beginning, Uncle Bob organized with the community to fight against the neglect of both the public and private sectors and against both immediate racism and systemic racism. Now, we continue to organize with our community because it is at risk from a widespread public and private investment that does not equitably benefit the community and leads to displacement. Sound Transit’s proposal is just the latest fight in the history of our community. Sound Transit must center its own values on racial equity and providing equitable benefits. Choosing the North and South Station Locations would allow for the creation of transit oriented development, or TOD, Affordable Housing, open space, and other improvements. It will reduce one specific avenue for possible displacement pressure in the CID neighborhood by moving construction away from areas where there are more CID residents and commercial users. It does all of this while still keeping the stations in close proximity to the CID and providing regional transit benefits. This is a choice that will both benefit our community and reduce harm. We are happy to endorse this option.”
Eunice How, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO, Seattle Chapter: “We know many workers need reliable and affordable transit to get to and from the CID area and other transportation connections, including low-wage and service sector workers with jobs in hotels and stadiums. We are in solidarity with Building Trades and other Unions who are going to benefit from good jobs in the project. However, we don’t want this expansion at the cost of disrupting our Asian American cultural home, the Chinatown International District.”
Mike Vu, owner of Itsumono: “Itsumono is for the North and South option. The 4th and 5th options will be too destructive and will close parts of major streets and intersections for long periods. One example is 4th and Jackson is slated to be closed for 9 to 11 years if they are on schedule with the construction; this will be longer if there are delays. We believe that out of all the options, North and South will cause the least amount of damage to the neighborhood for residents and businesses by keeping construction out and as short as possible for the CID while still offering comparable light rail services.”
Monyee Chau, co-owner of flower flower: “Transit’s main intention should be to bring communities together, not destroy them. The relationships built in the CID are generational and critical to the health and wellbeing of the community here. There are perfectly good options north and south that would not result in the decimation of a historical neighborhood and community.”
Tracey Wong, Co-Director of Malicious Vixens: “I support the North and South options because it would preserve our Chinatown-International District and provide expansive access to our community. If Sound Transit is about racial equity, please listen to the communities that have been here, understand our history, and see us for how much we love our home – Chinatown-International District. As someone who grew up in the CID, I know that we are so tired of having our community for generations be an after-thought and be harmed from urban planning due to the sake of our neighborhood being a convenient location to build on. We can find alternatives to create more access to public transportation while not erasing a community.”
Christina Shimizu, Executive Director, Puget Sound Sage & Sage Leaders: “Comprehensive planning must take into account many factors including opportunities for equitable transit-oriented development and affordable housing, cultural and historical preservation, the economic precarity of proposed station locations, and racial equity. Instead of solely prioritizing convenience and transit system design, it is essential to consider the North South alternative, which offers regional connectivity while avoiding the destruction that construction on 4th Ave would cause. For generations we have had to fight to protect our neighborhood’s footprint despite being one of the last remaining Chinatowns in the nation and one of the reasons our region and city is great. The CID is a cultural gem that we must not diminish. We want to see Sound Transit invest in our continued vitality through a true commitment to culturally relevant eTOD and community owned and controlled development.”
JM Wong, Community Organizer, Massage Parlor Outreach Project (MPOP): “Cultural density, including language access to social and medical services, longevity of connections to community, a sense of home, are all important components of safety for non-English speaking immigrants. When we say that the CID is an immigrant, working class neighborhood, this is what we mean – that our community members have a sense of belonging and knowledge of services offered in the area. As an organization serving Asian migrant massage workers, the stability and presence of this neighborhood is crucial for our connections with workers. Gentrification in Chinatown International District erases these sources of safety and replaces them with superficial, token cultural expressions for tourist consumption. Instead of culturally accessible affordable housing, we will have high rise overpriced condos. The 4th Ave option devastates the immigrant and working-class nature of the CID by causing a decade-long shut down of its most vibrant corridor. We can be rest assured that it will be wealthy real estate developers that often accompany transit projects that will replace our immigrant businesses and institutions. We support the North South option, and a vision of transit that is equitable and accessible for all.”
Meilani Mandery 周秀明, resident and worker in the CID: “As a resident and worker in the CID, I see neighborhood pressures firsthand, from game day congestion to police violence to gentrification. This neighborhood means so much to me as a young Asian American connecting with her culture and history. I am interested in the survival of our people, our small businesses, and our physical neighborhood–all of which are threatened by Sound Transit’s 4th Ave options. It has been frustrating to hear a few community members sell out the neighborhood for increased capital for a future CID that exists for the wealthy. Misguided by Sound Transit and developers, some people would sacrifice our neighborhood for empty promises, but they are a minority. Most of our community is concerned about the CID’s ability to survive this. As someone who relies on public transit, I am frustrated that concerned community members have been painted as anti-transit for standing up for our home. This is a matter of whether or not our government will allow another infrastructure project to tear through a low-income neighborhood of color.”