Spring Clean improves International District one sweep at a time

Chinatown-International District light rail station, taken by SDOT Photos on Feb. 10, 2016
Chinatown-International District light rail station. (Photo by SDOT.)

The Chinatown-International District neighborhood is expecting a few hundred volunteers this Saturday who will roll up their sleeves and clean the streets.

The annual event is hosted by the Seattle Public Utilities, the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda) and the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA).

Monisha Singh, CIDBIA event and program manager, said that volunteers could help pick up litter, clean up gardens, touch up paintings, and help the business owners with cleanup tasks.

Some businesses might not have the labor for it during the year,” Singh said.

Restaurants and stores can request help for cleanup projects.

Harry Chan, owner of Tai Tung, said not only does this event help with the overall appearance of Chinatown, also supports his family’s business.

One time, the volunteers helped paint the front door,” Chan said. “And the customers told me ‘Oh it looks great!’”

Chan said that thanks to the volunteers and the Spring Clean event, Tai Tung,  the oldest continuing restaurant in Chinatown, got a makeover that attracted more customers.

ICHS volunteers painted a mural placed on the wall behind the American Hotel for Spring Clean event 2015
ICHS volunteers painted a mural placed on the wall behind the American Hotel for Spring Clean event 2015. (Photo by International Community Health Services.)

The Spring Clean event also does a good job of getting individuals and organizations engaged with their community. International Community Health Services (ICHS), a nonprofit community health center based in Seattle, has been taking part in Spring Clean for years. Last year, the ICHS volunteers painted a mural placed behind the American Hotel.

“Our efforts to advocate for the overall health and well-being of our patients goes beyond the walls of our clinics and into the neighborhoods that we serve,” said Trang Le, the board coordinator at ICHS.

Besides the annual Spring Clean event, Chinatown-International District has been improving its neighborhood’s appearance through updated sanitary and safety guidelines and the Clear Alley program, which is dedicated to street upkeep. These new guidelines can be found on CIDBIA’s website.

According to the official Seattle-ID website, roughly 2,600 pedestrians cross 5th Avenue South at South Weller Street everyday on average, and nearly 40,000 live within a one-mile radius of the Chinatown-International District.

With so many people living in the neighborhood, sanitation can help improve not only community satisfaction but safety.

Daniel Sims, Seattle Public Utilities program manager, referred to the “broken window theory,” said that an unclean and neglected neighborhood tends to welcome illegal activities. But a neighborhood that’s being taken care of by an engaged community could reduce crime.

Sims said that Chinatown-International District relies on its volunteers to take part in cleaning up the streets, and the Spring Clean event is a great way to engage participants.

“Spring Clean is a part of the Adopt-a-Street program,” Sims said. “If participants like doing the Spring Clean event, and they want to do it year round, then they can participate in our Adopt-a-Street program.”

Jamie Lee, program manager at SCIDpda, said that interested participants can show up on April 30 and check in at 8 a.m. Lee said that even minor tasks like picking up litter or cleaning out bushes will help.