Chicke N. at soledad st.

About the Chinatown Renewal Project:

The 12-square blocks that form Salinas’ Chinatown are, literally and figuratively, cut off from much of the rest of the greater community. The area is blocked from a main thoroughfare by railroad tracks, and blocked from full participation with the rest of the City because of its reputation as a haven for illicit activity.

But change is happening!

Students painting a building for Chinatown Revitalization Project in Salinas

California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and the Salinas Downtown Community Board (SDCB), comprised of stakeholders in the neighborhood, including various houses of worship, nonprofit agencies that serve the homeless, community members, property owners and businesses, are all collaborating to determine the future of Chinatown. The theme for this Project is, “Creating a Thriving Community.”

In 2007, grant-contracted planners used a 19th-Century technique of French origin known as charrette (often used to describe the intense work done by art and architecture students to meet deadlines) to bring openness to the design definition process. Over 300 community members were involved in the experience, which resulted in the creation of the Chinatown Renewal Project Plan.

What has been envisioned includes condominiums over retail, outdoor cafes, a pedestrian bridge to re-connect Chinatown to the main area of Old Town Salinas, community parks, a single location for community/social services, consideration of traffic roundabouts, and transformation of all one-way streets to allow for two-way traffic.

Chinatown conditions have already improved because of the presence of CSUMB students, who are required to participate in service learning as part of their degree program, and community members engaged in urban transformation. Multiple signs proclaiming the area as a “drug free zone” have gone up in the neighborhood, and illicit activity is down, due not only to increased police presence, but also the cooperation between nonprofit agencies, community members, property owners and businesses.


CSUMB Learning Center
The Center functions as a resource for the residents of Chinatown offering free broadband access to Chinatown community members and provides over a dozen computers for public use. It  also functions as a classroom where residents can gain job readiness skills, learn basic to advanced computer literacy skills, nutritional/dietary education, as well as conflict resolution skills.The center is also utlized as a social service drop-in center with two private counseling rooms. Service Learning students also use the facility as a satellite classroom for CSUMB capstones, service learning projects, as well as student volunteers to interface with the population. 
To visit or learn more about the CSUMB Learning Center contact Jeffrey Lehner:, 831. 582.5083 or 831.770.1929

Chinatown Garden
The Chinatown Community Garden provides a free public green space to a low-income neighborhood, increasing food production and community building. The Garden is largely maintained by volunteers from CSUMB, Volunteer Center, United Way, and CalWorks. Volunteer hours are available Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Click here to learn more about the garden or contact the Garden Steward, Javier Rodriguez via email at:

Asian Cultural Museum & Republic Cafe
Several Groups are in the process of collaborating in hopes to cultivate opportunites for volunteers and community partners. More information to come in the future.

CSUMB Students Serving with the Chinatown Renewal Project:

*It is mandatory for all CSUMB Service Learners serving in the Chinatown Neighborhood to read the below infomation and follow all of the instructions previous to starting your service hours.

1. Learn about the history of the community by reviewing the Chinatown Powerpoint.
~Chinatown Background & Safety Training Powerpoint

2. Download  and read the following documents

~Techniques for Serving in the Chinatown Neighborhood

3. Print & complete the Chinatown Safety Quiz and submit to your site supervisor

~Safety Quiz

4. Be sure to register your site online via MySLP, you can also  print your Learning Agreement, Activity Time Log , & Get directions.  There  are lots of opportunities in Chinatown be sure to read the entire description.

For questions regarding the safety training or partnership opportunites please contact Jeffrey Lehner, by phone at 831.770.1929 or 831. 582.5083 by email at