Mayor Durkan Issues New Executive Order Leveraging City Funds to Support Impacts of Major Infrastructure Projects on Communities at Risk of Displacement

Starting with Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions (WSBLE) project, this Executive Order encourages Sound Transit to consider community benefits in addition to light rail in the Chinatown-International District (CID)

Seattle (December 1, 2021) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today signed an Executive Order directing City departments to begin to identify projects and actions to leverage local and federal funds to bring additional benefits and new growth to communities impacted by large infrastructure projects in communities at risk for displacement.

As Sound Transit begins decisions of regarding the alignments on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions (WSBLE) light rail project, this new directive will assist the Chinatown-International District (CID) in partnering with the community, the City, and Sound Transit to consider ways to provide new benefits to the CID to balance the impacts of multiple large transportation projects that risk displacing residents and businesses. CID is currently a hub for the Link lines to Northgate and Angle Lake in addition to the Seattle Streetcar. It will also serve as the transfer hub for East Link opening in 2023, and future light rail extensions to Lynnwood, Tacoma, West Seattle, Ballard, and Everett.

“Sound Transit’s transit investment in the Chinatown/International District will provide essential regional benefit as a transfer hub between three light rail lines, commuter rail, streetcar, and bus service. For decades, Chinatown/International District has been on the frontlines of the impacts of major infrastructure projects and displacement, and we have an obligation to mitigate the impacts on the residents and small businesses of a historical neighborhood treasure. We hope this directive sends a signal to our partner, Sound Transit, that every key department in Seattle is ready to set the table with community to explore funds and programs to prevent displacement,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.

The WSBLE project is one of the most significant transportation investments in Seattle’s and the Puget Sound region’s history and can be a model for ensuring community-led benefits for neighborhoods with high risk of displacement. This new directive hopes to leverage Sound Transit’s CID station to provide benefits to improve neighborhoods beyond transit services.

“Here at Interim our values are in Equitable Development for our communities. Seattle’s growth and large infrastructure have left many immigrants, refugee’s, working people, seniors, and communities behind. We have been deeply concerned about the displacement effects the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension could have on the CID neighborhood,” said Pradeepta Upadhyay, Executive Director, Interim CDA. “We view this Executive Order as a chance to continue our partnership with the city and Sound Transit to mitigate the harms brought to the CID community for working families, limited income seniors, and small and family-owned businesses. We are hopeful this order will result in more self-determination for the CID community in the mitigation we all want to see.”

“Neighborhoods like the Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square often suffer negative impacts from large infrastructure projects like WSBLE,” said Kathleen Barry Johnson, Executive Director of Historic South Downtown. “Historic South Downtown is pleased that Mayor Durkan is taking steps to consider comprehensive and creative ways to leverage local and Sound Transit funds to ensure the communities around the new C-ID station share the benefit of this unprecedented investment in transportation systems in Seattle.”

“The CID Vision Group is a coalition of Chinatown International District and Little Saigon partners standing together to voice concerns and work toward community driven solutions. The CID Vision Group’s community driven work will be a strong foundation for the efforts laid out in this Executive Order,” said Susan Yang, CID Vision Group member. “The work that we will do in partnership with the City and Sound Transit over the coming months and years will be a powerful example of how community self-determination and government accountability can have positive results for our neighborhood and others in the future.”

The Executive Order directs enhanced coordination across city departments to help identify priority land acquisitions and funding to mitigate housing displacement. It emphasizes enhanced approach for working with community to identify priorities to inform any future Community Benefit Agreements (CBA). This approach, if successful, could be used for future processes to deliver community benefits in alignment with City and external agency large infrastructure delivery.