There is no "homeland security" for Little Tokyo. In these times, who can you trust to keep the community alive? Do we rely solely on the interests of big institutions and private developers? Can we rely on the city to provide a master plan that is inclusive of our needs?
History has shown us that we have depended too much on other people's vision. We have let mom and pop stores go in favor of boutique stores aimed at Japanese tourists. Bad idea, bad timing, Over 50% of Little Tokyo's small business and residential community was lost to a redevelopment plan designed to revitalize the area with foreign money.
In more recent times, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the City have been working on another vision. One that involves turning downtown into a cultural mecca. One that involves the expansion of tile Los Angeles Police Headquarters. Their proposal, backed even by some of Little Tokyo's own business community, would sever the landmark Nishi Hongwanji Temple from the rest of the neighborhood. The temple would be blocked off by a Metro Gold Line extension, huge police administration building and Emergency Operations Center.
There is no "Homeland Security" for Little Tokyo. More people will be coming to live here. New market-rate condominiums will be built on the corner of First and Alameda, as well as San Pedro and Third streets, Will people think of this as their home or just a place to work or sleep?
We cannot rely on the visions of people who see this community as parcels of land. We cannot rely on people who believe that we need to sacrifice a temple for a parking lot. Little Tokyo is worth more than that.
J-Town Voice brings together different generations of Asian Pacific Islanders participating in various Little Tokyo organizations. We are interested in building a Little Tokyo where workers, residents, small business owners, youth and other community stakeholders all participate in this community's decision-making and planning. We believe that the future of our neighborhood should not be left to a few people looking out for their own self-interests.
We ourselves have a beautiful vision for this neighborhood, Our vision sees Little Tokyo:
- As the historic and cultural center, for the Japanese American community
- As a progressive center for Asian Pacific Islander art, culture, politics and social life serving its multi-ethnic and working class residents
- As inclusive and livable
- As an environment where small business can thrive
This community is like a plant - it needs to be nourished, grow and blossom. We want Little Tokyo to be a living and thriving community, not just a monument to our histories. We see youth alongside seniors, creating new stories at a Recreation Center. We want affordable housing, so that Little Tokyo doesn't lose itself to the flood of new luxurv Downtown housing developments.
To Contact J-town Voice