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Chinatown Backs Cultural Center : ‘Ignored’ Community Sends Petitions to Supervisors

Times Staff Writer

Local Chinese-American leaders launched a petitions drive Thursday to win a cultural center for Chinatown.

“We’re a low-profile community and an ignored community. Now it is time to assert ourselves,” said Howard Quon, president of the Los Angeles lodge of the Chinese-American Citizens Alliance, before the petitions signed by 3,500 people were delivered to the offices of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The proposed center would be built with private funds as part of a commercial development on land leased from the county.

Last month, the Board of Supervisors rejected three proposals for development of Lot 45, a county-owned parking lot in the 700 block of North Spring Street on the edge of Chinatown, which would have included a cultural center along with commercial or residential uses.

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Those plans were submitted in response to earlier board action seeking private-sector proposals for the 1.7-acre parcel based on a long-term lease of the property. Proposals had to bring in revenue to the county and include low- to moderate-income housing, parking and a cultural center of at least 15,000 square feet.

But in its action last month, the board dropped those requirements and directed its staff to examine “the possible use and potential value of Lot 45 as a future parking resource for Civic Center-downtown commercial development.”

The Chinese-American coalition responded with the petition drive, declaring that the board’s action had created “an emergency” by raising “the danger to Chinatown” that new plans might not include a cultural center.

“Lot 45 represents a last chance for Chinatown,” James Hong, past president of the Assn. of Asian Pacific American Artists, said at Thursday’s press conference. “If that lot is not made into a cultural and community center, I don’t know where we’re going to find another place.”

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