Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lysa Bui's Speech

Lysa Bui's Speech, Given August 26, 2009

My name is Lysa Bui, and I am one of the owners of Saigon Restaurant. Thanks everyone for coming today. Everyone that's here today own businesses, properties, or work on University Ave. We are all here today because it’s our time to speak up, we all want the same thing, and it’s business mitigation for our businesses.

Here is my story, I got into the restaurant business at a very young age, took over the business from my mom and had been on University for about 10 years. We endured a lot of hardship in the beginning when I took over the business and in the end we survived.

Last year we were forced to move from a previous location that we called home. It was a place where we thought we were going to be for a very long time. But due to circumstances beyond our control, we were given a very short time to move and so after closing down the business for 5 month, we found a new location, and yet once again we survived.

As many of you may know running a business takes a lot of time, effort, tears, and hard work. Closing down for 5 months literally almost killed our operations. But through hardship, we survived the difficult times and hardship. And now with the light rail coming, we will not survive unless we get some business mitigation, grants. Why would we need a loan, why would we want to put more debt on our shoulders? When I was forced to move I had a lot of option to choose from, but I chose to be on University Ave. I choose to be here because I believe this is a place of opportunity where the rich diverse minority business community had made it a vibrant neighborhood that its today.

Look in this room today. We all made what University what it is currently. Without you and I there would be no difference. Where were you Met Council? Why didn't you decide to put the light rail out there when it was a run down place? Why wait until we made this a safer and better place and come in today to destroy us?

Now the light rail is coming and the question that many of us businesses are strained by is the daunting question as to whether we can survive 4 years of construction in front our of door steps? Can we survive the difficulty that it will take a customer to come into our store? Can we survive with all the pollution, that will make customers think about coming here? Can we survive when 90 percent of our parking will be lost? The answer will be NO! Unless we can get some business mitigation (not a loan) grants.

For several years now, we have repeatedly been treated condescendingly by the government questioning whether we are for or against the popular light rail project. This question has a winners take all attitude and is not in the spirit of what we believe in…a good faith effort on behalf of leadership to provide fair equitable treatment to the hard working men and women along University Ave. We do not want to hear any more window dressing or denial of construction impact to our businesses! Thousand of small businesses will be affected. Thousand of jobs will be on the line.

Through our research of similar light rail construction projects in other major cities, most recently, the city of Seattle, we have been forewarned through the lessons that was learned there that construction will negatively impact small businesses by hindering foot traffic, parking, and other impediments relating to access to our businesses. This will result in up to 60% loss of revenues to our business for any given quarter. Uniquely with the economy being down, most of us are already losing 10-20% of our income. If you add those two numbers together it will be anywhere between 70-80% of lost income.

We fervently believe that mass transit benefits the region, but why should the hundreds of businesses along the LRT alignment be expected to absorb all the costly impacts and disruption to our livelihood and businesses! So we are asking the Met Council members…how would you feel if your paycheck was reduced significantly, hampering your abilities to make lease payment, mortgages, student loan payments, utilities, car payment, child care, credit cards and other living costs? Because that is exactly what you will do to us.

For the past year we have hoped that government can establish the only fair solution which is provide mitigation payments so that businesses are able to endure construction impacts. We are not asking for a new building, chairs, table, we are just asking to be compensated for what we will lose during and after construction. We are not a bunch of low life asking for a hand out, we are business owners that contribute to the community. We want to stop being labeled as anti-light rail. We are simply asking for fair and equitable treatments.

All of us here today share the same common goals wanting what is best for the neighborhood. We are holding Central Corridor accountable for the negative impacts of light rail. How do you guys feel about destroying us, does it make you a better person? Many of us here are immigrants coming to a country where there are suppose to be fair and equal treatment, and now look at what is happening to us? Is history repeating itself? Its this another "Rondo"? And you can get away with it because you get back up from the government, so therefore you have nothing to fear and do as you like, do as you care. You are at a job that pay you a salary. You come home at night and not have to worried about the future. Us all here do not know what tomorrow will be bring. Will we have a job in the following year?

We do not expect Met Council to care for us or love us. We just want to be treated fairly, to stop us from going out of business and losing our jobs. Met Council has repeatedly say in the end it will turn out good for us, but how can we enjoy the outcome and benefits when we will be out of business during construction? Is this the government way of saying thanks for being stupid, it's our turn to take over now GOODBYE!

The signs that you see here to today is a desperate cry for HELP! Why haven't anyone offer us help regarding grant and compensation money, we get offer loans and putting more debts on top of debts no thank you. Marketing skills? We were doing fine without the light rail.

Met Council also say that they have many meetings, yes meeting that are telling us their plan and what they are going to do with their millions. Does our voice not count?

Finally with our signs, our voice will not be muted any more. And even if we are displayed by the construction, we want to mark this day that we are not fools! That we anticipated the problems, that the powers that may be, did not act on our behalf when we seek help.

Lysa Bui

No comments: