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Overview of Salinas Downtown Community Board

The Salinas Downtown Community Board started as the Downtown Social Services Board in the 1980’s and has progressed with the Salinas community to be the guardians and stakeholders of Salinas’ Chinatown neighborhood. Chinatown is rich in cultural history and reinvention. We are the voice of the under-served people in Chinatown, representing their history and culture, with the goal to rebuild this neighborhood for all to live in safety and enjoyment.

Officers

PositionName
Interim ChairLarry Hirahara, [email protected]
Interim Vice ChairJill Allen, [email protected]
SecretaryMarilyn Dorman, [email protected]
TreasurerHerb Wong, [email protected]

Board Members

Government Agencies and Institutions

City of Salinas Council Member District #4 Orlando Orsonio
City of Salinas Community Development DepartmentLuis Ochoa
Monterey County Behavioral HealthMelanie Rhodes
Monterey County Department of Social ServicesGlorietta Rowland
CSU Monterey Bay Community Health Engagement CenterJacqui Smith

Businesses

PositionName
Buddhist Temple of SalinasLarry Hirahara
Filipino Community CenterMars Rocamora, Jr.
Chinese Association of SalinasHerb Wong
Moon Gate PlazaGrace Gomez

Residents and Community Members

PositionName
Asian Cultural ExperienceCathy Chavez-Miller
Asian Cultural ExperienceJean Vengua
Community MemberMarilyn Dorman
Community MemberKaren Cusson
Community MemberRick Moreno

Social Service Providers (Non-profits)

PositionName
Coalition of Homeless Services ProvidersRoxanne Wilson
Franciscan Workers/Dorothy’s PlaceJill Allen
Victory Mission, Inc.(Vacant)
Interim, Inc.Juliana Saldana

Action Teams

The Board receives input from three Action Teams.

The new Multidisciplinary Encampment Outreach Team pairs social workers with health providers to bring care directly into homeless encampments, where many are resistant to institutional settings. Chinatown Social Service Providers worked together to make this a reality after the SDCB strategic planning recognized an overwhelming need for this service.
Bridge Street businesses thriving after revitalized stewardship and a property make-over.

Chinatown Business Committee (CBC)

The #1 priority and need for the community is to become a safer place where persons feel secure and invited. Illegal drug dealing must stop, bullying and belittling has no place here.

The health and livability of every community, no matter how diverse its residents, rests in large part on how people treat each other. Neighborhoods are strongest where people respect each other, each others’ property, and the common areas which they share (streets, parks, public buildings, etc.).

Local businesses in Chinatown suffer when illegal activities take over the respectful and safe environment that businesses strive to create to serve their consumers. The CBC supports neighborhood safety, sanitation and respectful environments where businesses can grow, serve and give-back.

To join the activism of CBC, contact Chair Larry Hirahara.

The Salinas Asian Festival, one of two events promoted annually by Asian Cultural Experience, celebrates the cultural and historical presence of the Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese communities in Salinas. The Buddhist Temple, the Salinas Chinese Association and the Filipino Cultural Center open their doors to the community and feature walking tours, folk dancing, kendo demonstrations, bonsai displays and delicious multicultural food. Normally held on the last Saturday of April, it was cancelled in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns.

Asian Cultural Experience (ACE)

ACE is committed to preserving, recording, documenting and exhibiting the history and culture of the Salinas Chinatown area where several ethnic groups have lived, worked, and gathered together since 1872. Chinatown is a historical “gold mountain.” If walls could speak, this tiny rundown neighborhood (on the other side of the railroad tracks from Salinas City Center), would tell a rich multi-ethnic story of agricultural development, labor movements, daily life and low life, collaboration and tension, discrimination and solidarity. Culture offers an abundance to celebrate! No one culture or historical period can claim a monopoly on this neighborhood.

To join the Asian Cultural Experience, explore their website and contact Co-Chairs Cathy Chavez-Miller and Jean Vengua.

To understand Salinas’ Chinatown, and the steady work of the Salinas Downtown Community Board, it helps to be informed of the history, the advantages and disadvantages, and the compelling interests for rebirth and new growth of our neighborhood. The following provides those with an interest to know more about social change in our Chinatown a primer of essential issues.