The mission of CHINATOWN IMPROVEMENT is to foster an economically and culturally vibrant Oakland Chinatown.
We envision Oakland Chinatown to be regionally known as thriving Pan-Asian immigrant hub, a welcoming destination to shop, eat, live and play. As one of the oldest urban Chinatowns in the US, Oakland Chinatown has a history of resiliency, cohesion and vibrancy that can help it grow in the future as a vital Asian commercial and cultural node for the Bay Area.
Officially formed in December 2017, CHINATOWN IMPROVEMENT is a fiscally-sponsored project of East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, with generous support from Asian Health Services, The Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Family Bridges, The Martin Group, Chinese Community United Methodist Church, and various community and merchant project participants and sponsors.
CHINATOWN IMPROVEMENT is a series of low-cost, high-impact projects that effectively showcase how Oakland Chinatown can be clean, safe and well maintained for businesses, residents, families and visitors.
CHINATOWN IMPROVEMENT envisions Oakland Chinatown to be known regionally as a vibrant Pan-Asian immigrant hub, a welcoming multigenerational destination to shop, eat, live and play. With a resilient history supporting us, we pinpoint and address current challenges to foster Chinatown’s future economic and cultural growth.
CHINATOWN CLEAN – An innovative Clean Ambassador project that is spearheading a new wave of merchant engagement and participation in Chinatown’s future. We maintain a pilot area in the most impacted commercial sector of 8th and 9th Streets, providing sidewalk cleaning, graffiti abatement and storefront improvement projects. Through this we have built a trusted information and communications network between commercial and community sectors throughout Chinatown.
CHINATOWN BEAUTIFUL – Bolstering neighborhood partnerships to execute large-scale and impactful public beautification projects throughout Chinatown.
CHINATOWN COMMUNITY - Creation and support of large-scale public events that amplify Chinatown as an important regional cultural district, and foster improvements for our cultural public spaces, parks and libraries.
CHINATOWN IMPROVEMENT actively supports and partners with community efforts that highlight Oakland Chinatown as a regional Pan-Asian commercial and cultural node. We identify and support partnerships and community efforts towards common goals: Asian cultural vibrancy and community advancement, cleanliness, public safety, improved streetscape design, and just economic development.
Chinatown sits at apex of the current Oakland development cycle. By 2020, 5000+ market rate units and approximately 10,000+ new residents will move into Downtown. Outside business improvement districts have expanded into Chinatown boundaries, dispersing community and business funding away from the neighborhood. Past City planning efforts and core services have not adequately considered or addressed Chinatown needs or vision, as demonstrated by its initial exclusion of considerations in the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan.
Generationally, Oakland Chinatown is experiencing a diasporic loss of younger residents due to immigration waves, rising costs and housing availability. Consequently Oakland Chinatown is now increasingly seen and used by visitors in a transit-oriented way, where daily cross-city to cross-regional travel is now normal.
Oakland Chinatown remains a large cultural and health/services hub, a regionally-identified district where immigrants and the general public look towards for healthcare, shopping, recreation and exercise, community and identity. With both Pan-Asians and Non-Asians, we see the regional transit patterns of visitors as indicative of a shift from Oakland Chinatown being solely a place unto itself, and now more of a transit-oriented “homebase” within their daily lives.
On the commercial side, contrary to general misconceptions, Oakland Chinatown remains a steady and important sales tax revenue earner for the City. Even with much lower price points, Chinatown is historically a top sales tax earner for Oakland business districts of similar size. In 2018, Chinatown outperformed Downtown in sales tax revenues by 135% per business. This occurred despite having lower prices, half the businesses of Downtown, and no supporting Business Improvement District in place.
EXAMPLES OF GROWTH
While other cities like Washington DC have seen their older Chinatowns reduced to several streets, other examples of growth exist to learn from. Cities like Chicago and Houston with similar Pan-Asian, working-class characteristics have seen new immigrant Asian population and business growth. We look towards these growing districts for learning models, with economic and cultural vibrancy as primary goals.
CHINATOWN IMPROVEMENT designs and executes projects that demonstrate how well various sectors of Chinatown can work together towards shared goals. Oakland Chinatown has an abundance of social connectivity and history that binds us together. We target efforts that unlock vital business and community connections to help pivot Oakland Chinatown into the future, carrying on traditions of community, cultural and economic resilience and growth.
2019 AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition
US Congress, 13th Congressional District of California
Alameda County Commendation
Board of Supervisors, County of Alameda
“Building the Future” Award
Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce
Strong Merchant and Community Support