Sound Transit is in the midst of a massive expansion of light rail in the greater Seattle and Tacoma metropolitan area, including constructing a new station at the nexus of Seattle’s historic Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square. This expansion comes at a time when these two communities have limited capacity to engage in Sound Transit’s public process. Construction of multiple transportation and infrastructure projects over the past several decades has caused disruption to these neighborhoods. They are home to many vulnerable people, with high concentrations of seniors and people experiencing homelessness or linguistic isolation. These two neighborhoods have also been adversely impacted by historic disinvestment and institutional racism.
Historic South Downtown—which was created to preserve, restore, and promote the health, safety, and cultural identity of the Pioneer Square and Chinatown-International District neighborhoods—hired 3Si and its partner, Next Bold Move to help build capacity of these two communities to participate in community engagement during light rail expansion. We provided a series of trainings for community-based organizations and community members on the environmental and public engagement processes. We also provided strategic guidance to community members participating in stakeholder advisory groups and other public processes. Finally, we facilitated collaboration and consensus building around a collective vision for these two communities, as well as overlapping priorities for light rail expansion and other types of development.
With our support, community members successfully advocated to Sound Transit to delay narrowing the alternatives in their neighborhoods to allow time for more analysis of benefits and impacts. By building on past collaboration, community organizations are effectively engaging Sound Transit and other local agencies on decisions that affect Pioneer Square and the Chinatown-International District.