Save and Protect Historic Los Angeles Chinatown! Plan for a Sustainable Chinatown Needed!

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Petition For An Immediate Moratorium On All New Developments And Unfair Rent Increases In The L.A. Chinatown Community
A Specific Plan For An Affordable And Sustainable Chinatown Urgently Needed

Los Angeles Chinatown – A Historic and Cultural Community
Los Angeles Chinatown has provided a home, workplace and a convenient and affordable place to eat, shop and socialize for immigrants, their families and friends, and many others for over 100 years. Chinatown is one of the major popular tourist attractions in Los Angeles, along with Little Tokyo and El Pueblo.

According to the Los Angeles Times’ Mapping L.A., Chinatown’s population was over 28,000 in 2008 and has predominantly consisted of persons of Asian and Latino ethnicity. Chinatown is well-known as a neighborhood with a large number of seniors and working-class families and individuals who are mostly low-income immigrants in need of bilingual language assistance due to their limited fluency in English. The median household income in Chinatown is around $22,754, which is extremely low in the City of Los Angeles and well below the median family income in Los Angeles County ($69,300). More than 90 percent of Chinatown residents are renters.

Sudden Surge of Proposed Massive High-Rise Market-Rate Developments
Los Angeles Chinatown is now being taken over by an increasing number of proposed massive high-rise new developments that primarily consist of hundreds of units of expensive market-rate housing and commercial retail space for the affluent. These developments fail to consider the historic and distinctive character of Chinatown or the essential needs of the community’s residents and ethnic minority-owned small businesses. None of these developments help Chinatown to sustain itself. To strengthen and protect this neighborhood’s character and support its residents, Chinatown needs: more affordable housing, community benefits, open green spaces, support of local small businesses, reduction of air pollution and traffic, and specific efforts to preserve and protect Chinatown’s significant and unique culture and history.

Instead, these new developments are causing the existing rents in the Chinatown community to be unfairly and unjustly increased to unaffordable amounts. Some tenants have received rent increases of over 50%. Even though Chinatown’s residents and its small and ethnic businesses are vital to this community, they are currently facing a high risk of being forced to move out and displaced to make way for speculative investors who focus on the rich and wealthy.

These massive market-rate developments do not solve the serious housing crisis and homelessness problem in Los Angeles. The rate of homelessness in Chinatown will increase if affordable housing is continuously reduced or replaced by more expensive housing. Chinatown needs to keep the existing affordable housing. Also needed are a larger supply of affordable housing; better tenant protections against evictions, harassment and retaliation; and a moratorium on all new developments and unfair rent increases until a community-minded Specific Plan for an affordable and sustainable Chinatown is established.

A new recent USC analysis of air quality data on the different levels of air pollution across the Los Angeles area, shows that Chinatown suffers from the unhealthiest air among all of the neighborhoods in L.A. County. To allow such new developments in Chinatown will clearly increase the air pollution and traffic in the community. This extremely unhealthy situation will seriously and irreparably harm and endanger the health, welfare and safety of the people in Chinatown and the environment.

A record number of market-rate housing are being proposed in Chinatown. Included among the proposed massive new developments with market-rate housing that are out-of-character with the low-rise and smaller buildings in Chinatown, are the following: Elysian Park Lofts at 1030-1380 North Broadway and 1251 North Spring St. (S&R Partners)—920-units of market-rate housing in 14 and 13-story buildings; College Station at 924 North Spring Street (Atlas Capital Group)--770 apartments and 51,000 sq. ft. of commercial space in six five-story buildings; Harmony at 942 North Broadway (Canadian Townline and Forme Development)--178 residential units and 30,000 sq. ft. of office and retail spaces in a 27-story tower; and Studio Gang-Designed Tower at 643 N. Spring Street (French developer Compagnie de Phalsbourg)--294 apartments, 149-room luxury hotel and 16,000 sq. ft. of commercial space in a 26-story tower. In August 2018, 12 new developments/projects in Chinatown were noted in Curbed Los Angeles.

History of Displacement, Racism and Discrimination
The ugly history against Chinese-Americans in Los Angeles must not be repeated. Chinatown was formed due to a racist environment and discriminatory laws and policies. It should not be forgotten that Historic Chinatown was displaced due to the building of the Union Station and Chinese-Americans were subjected to a series of anti-Chinese laws and covenants, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Geary Act of 1892, the Chinese Massacre of 1871, and other unfair and inhumane treatment. Chinatown’s community should be treated in “an inclusive, equitable, sustainable and healthy manner,” in accordance with L.A. City’s Downtown Core Principles, as stated in the proposed DTLA 2040 Community Plan.

Specific Plan for a Sustainable Chinatown Needed
To save and protect Chinatown, this historic and cultural neighborhood urgently requires a Specific Plan, which is developed in partnership with the community and its approval. Meanwhile, no building permits or variances on all new developments should be issued unless they comply with the Specific Plan. The Specific Plan must provide immediate and long-term strategies and solutions to preserve, protect and strengthen this neighborhood’s distinctive and unique historic and cultural character and resources, stop the ongoing displacement of its residents and ethnic minority-owned small businesses, and improve and maintain Los Angeles’ “Chinatown village.”

The public officials and government agencies of the City of Los Angeles have the duty, obligation and responsibility to serve and protect the entire Chinatown community and all of its members from harm and danger. Save and protect Los Angeles Chinatown!

Petition for an Immediate Moratorium on All New Developments and Unfair Rent Increases
We are requesting an immediate moratorium on all new developments and unfair rent increases in the L.A. Chinatown Community until a Specific Plan for an affordable and sustainable Chinatown is established pursuant to the community’s participation and approval.

Respectfully submitted,
Chinatown Sustainability Dialogue Group and Signatories

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Chinatown Sustainability Dialogue Group (CSDG) is a coalition of residents, business owners, property owners, community organizations, dedicated neighborhood volunteers in Los Angeles Chinatown, and other interested groups and individuals.
CSDG’s mission is to unify people to have a voice in local decision-making and to sustain and improve the L.A. Chinatown community.