Future justice center site impacts many business owner

Let’s talk about the future location of the Justice Center on Tukwila International Boulevard (TIB). In the May 23 – 29 issue of Real Change, a local periodical mostly sold on street corners, you will find a reasonably balanced article authored by Hannah Myrick. The title of the piece is “Seeking Justice in the Heart of Tukwila.” It is worth a read. The title? Well, just remember that justice and love are similar in one respect. The meaning depends on the context.

The new justice center is scheduled to be built on an area that is approximately one and a half square blocks on TIB. The eminent domain process allows a government to take private property for public use with appropriate compensation to property owners. Most, if not all, of the businesses located here rent from the property owners. The business owners seem to be making the claim that this small area is the only area on TIB or in Tukwila that is affordable and in which they can adequately serve their customers. Simply put, this idea strains credulity.

Approximately 15 small business owners and advocates assert that the city did not make special provisions so that they might attend the many opportunities that the city provided for input. These business owners are now attending meetings and making their case in English and with their own interpreters. This contradicts the idea that such provisions should have been provided by the city. Typically residents and business owners do not participate in city-sponsored events unless they feel that they are personally impacted. Waiting until the end of a decision-making process to show up just does not work well. Accountability is a two-way street. The city has its responsibilities. So do residents and business owners.

Did the business owners form an informal association to make sure that at least one representative was attending the events? Have the business owners considered pooling resources to create a new business center? Have the business owners pursued consultation and collaboration with other organizations that have shown an interest in working with them?

Some business owners make the point that they understand how and why the city chose the new location. They merely ask for more time and for relocation resources. This is an understandable point of view. The problem is that we have a zero-sum situation. The project is already over-budget, and that will have to be worked out. Any additional costs must be absorbed by all residents. What typically happens with construction costs as time goes by? Where do relocation resources come from?

Protests and demonstrations are an integral part of our democracy; they are an effective way of making feelings clear to decision makers about important issues. It’s a good thing. However, such steps are not always effective advocacy. The pursuit of positive intentions through unskillful means are mostly ineffective and often harmful.


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