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Islamic Group Seeks New Street Name

Garden Grove officials await a staff report on changing part of 13th Street to Al-Rahman.

January 13, 2003|Kimi Yoshino | Times Staff Writer

Garden Grove officials are considering whether to change the name of a small stretch of 13th Street to Al-Rahman Street at the request of a local Islamic group.

Most of the block on 13th west of Brookhurst Street is owned by the Islamic Society of Orange County, where thousands of Muslims congregate daily for prayers at the mosque or attend the Orange Crescent School. Al-Rahman, which means "all merciful," is one of several Islamic names for God.

"It's more respectful to have that as the name," said Garden Grove resident Ali Meer, who visits the mosque five times a day for prayers. "It sounds better. It's a good name, and mostly Muslims come to this street, so it will be easier to find."

Officials from the Islamic society have asked the city to consider renaming the street, which is also home to a small apartment complex and a county-funded recovery home for drug and alcohol addicts.

City staff is researching what other cities have done and are expected to bring the matter back to the council for review.

"We are a multiethnic community," Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater said. "Everybody has a right to have a seat at the table. We have the largest mosque in the U.S., and we have to give them some respect. If [the Rev. Robert] Schuller [of the Crystal Cathedral] came to us and asked us to change a street name, we'd look at it. So that's what we're doing, we're listening."

One option, Broadwater said, is to give the mosque a ceremonial address such as 1 Al-Rahman Plaza, which would not change the street name, but would set it apart.

Until staff members come back with recommendations, Broadwater said, he's not ready to decide.

"We have put up Korean district signs, and we have put up signs for Little Saigon, so it's not something we wouldn't think of doing," he said.

The mosque and school have been good neighbors, said Clemente Castaneda, a counselor at Unidos Recovery Homes.

"A street is a street," he said. "They don't cause any problems around here."

Castaneda said his only concern is having to change the address on all his paperwork, business cards and letterhead.

Even some people affiliated with the mosque said they weren't completely sold on the idea -- especially because the Islamic society would probably have to foot most, if not all, of the city's bill.

"For me, it's not a big deal," said Abdul Malik, an Arabic language teacher at the school. "It might be good for directions -- take Brookhurst and a right on Al-Rahman -- but I think they should keep it as 13th Street. Nobody [else is] using this street and it's very simple."

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