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Little Saigon Starts Here ... and Here

Following the lead of neighboring Garden Grove, Westminster will erect its own sign, a $20,000 marker at Magnolia and Bolsa.

February 04, 2003|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

Westminster city officials said Monday they will pay for a gateway sign into Little Saigon similar to the concrete monuments unveiled by neighboring Garden Grove over the weekend.

The $20,000 sign will be erected at Magnolia Street and Bolsa Avenue by the end of the year.

"We've done entry signs in the city for major arterials, and this is a way of identifying the Little Saigon Business District portion of Westminster," said Don Vestal, Westminster's city manager.

The sign will be one element of an $800,000 project to improve the look of the Little Saigon area, including planting trees and raising the traffic median along Bolsa Avenue between Magnolia and Bushard streets.

The revitalization project has been on hold because of a lack of funds.

It's now scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

In November, shortly after Andy Quach won a seat on the City Council, he approached the council about the issue. He said the city should install signs right away.

Little Saigon developed in the 1970s as Vietnamese immigrants came to central Orange County. What began as a few mom-and-pop businesses has become a major shopping destination with hundreds of stores and restaurants.

"The idea is to promote Little Saigon so people can visit us," Quach said. "It brings pride to the business owners."

Additional signs are planned for along the east side of Bolsa Avenue as soon as city officials find funding for that improvement project, Vestal said.

Neighboring Garden Grove has already erected two Little Saigon signs, which are etched with a city logo and the slogan "Together We Build a Better Future" on one side and its Vietnamese translation on the other. A South Vietnamese flag flies above bamboo trees, which symbolize resilience.

Chieu Le, who owns two sandwich shops in Westminster and one in Garden Grove, said the signs would boost business.

"It's good for everyone to know where Little Saigon is," Le said. "It's been too long."

Merchants and activists who formed the Little Saigon Business District Committee say they will also seek signs in Santa Ana, Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, where other Vietnamese businesses have sprung up.

"We don't want to draw physical boundaries," said Quach, a member of the committee who owns a consulting office in Fountain Valley. "Little Saigon has transcended city boundaries, and the sign is long overdue."

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