Opinions

Save Sunrise Village Small Businesses

149-unit development vs. Sunrise Shopping Center from the view of customers and businesses

by Cathy Yang

As an Asian American, I am writing to offer my perspective on the proposed Pines at Sunrise Village residential development. A couple of decades ago when my family and I first moved to Sunny Hills, I met a white gentleman living in the neighborhood and he told me a story that when he was living in Sunny Hills back in the 1960s, there was a petition among some of the white neighbors to “stop” an Asian American family from buying a house in the neighborhood because “they weren’t the right kind of people.” He refused to sign the petition, but the story illustrates the racism and discrimination that Asian Americans faced when they first put down their roots here in north Fullerton.

Concept drawing of the proposed Pines at Sunrise Village project from a city staff report.

Over the years, Asian Americans have flocked to Fullerton in increasing numbers for its safe neighborhoods, award-winning schools, open space, and recreational opportunities. Today, Asian Americans make up 25% of Fullerton residents and the Sunrise Village shopping center has become the heartbeat and part of the fabric of Asian American life in north Fullerton, with Korean-owned businesses providing healthcare, pet care, tutoring, and dining services for the north Fullerton community, including 38,000 Asian Americans who call Fullerton home.  For example, my family and I regularly go to Sunrise Village for dental care at Dr. Kim’s dental office, kid’s after-school activities at Kumon and Elite, and delicious meals at the Dumpling House.

Dr. Charles Kim Dentistry in Sunrise Village is one of many Korean-owned businesses in this shopping center that could be displaced by the Pines housing development. Photo by Jesse La Tour.

The proposed Pines residential development to replace the Sunrise Village would, without a doubt, destroy a huge part of the thriving Asian American community that has taken decades to build. Further, Asian-owned businesses would be disproportionately harmed, displacing crucial services that many residents have come to rely on, and maiming the Asian American community’s way of life. I understand the need for more housing, and I am not against development. But the need for housing should not and cannot come at the expense at the Asian American community, especially at this time of a global pandemic when Asian Americans everywhere have had to face everything from overt racism to downright hostility and physical and verbal violence simply for being of Asian descent. If our city were to approve the Pines residential project, not only would the decision cripple a major segment of the Asian American community, but it would also send an alarming message that the will, voices, and concerns of Asian Americans are unimportant, and that similar to the past, Asian Americans can simply be ignored, cast aside, and disregarded.

The Fullerton City Council should demonstrate its support for the Asian American community and help it continue to thrive and grow in Fullerton by keeping Sunrise Village and voting NO on the zoning change. If you oppose the Pines zoning change, please sign the petition at www.Change.org/SaveSunriseVillage.

As a numbers person, I will conclude with a set of statistics from Clear Gov on Fullerton, Anaheim, Brea, and La Habra comparing the ratio of Sales Tax vs. Property Tax the City gathers as revenue.  From reading the data, I see that it is evident that Fullerton lacks Sale tax compared to our neighboring cities and we need more retail and less housing.

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4 replies »

  1. What on God’s green Earth has this issue got to do with race? “Destroy” a huge part of the thriving Asian America community? Really? Get a grip. The real issue is upzoning to dense housing that removes necessary commercially (and office-professional and industrial) zoned land – regardless of the ethnicity of the business proprietors therein.

  2. Do you think that the opening of the Amerige Heights shopping center had any effect on businesses at Sunrise Village? Or the Asian owned businesses in nearby Buena Park and La Habra? I only ask because you describe Sunrise Village as the “heartbeat” of the local Asian community, but I see far more Asian people shopping elsewhere.

  3. Claiming racism and the destruction of an ethnic community is like claiming assault. It should be clear that injury has been inflicted, or is threatened. The Sunrise Village has never been a hotspot or focal point for Asian-Americans or Asian immigrants. But it has definitely been responsible for the deaths of a long string of immigrant-owned small businesses.

    Americans love fresh air, wide open spaces, and the pleasure of walking into a business where everybody knows you by name. But typically, Asians prefer areas that are popping, overflowing, overwhelmingly popular. Rather than enjoy the beautiful blue sky over a huge empty, parking lot and no wait in the stores – they’d rather fight for parking and wait in lines, because that signifies an establishment worth spending your money in.

    Sunrise Village has struggled since Vons closed – the parking lot is just too big to justify the size and scale of the businesses occupying the retail area. While residents have enjoyed all the space and quiet, we’re not the ones paying for it. The property owner is. A new housing complex would bring in more people to spend money on retail in Fullerton. And I would not be a bit surprised if a large number of the new residents were racial minorities, including the Asian-American community.

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