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Vote on Santa Ana Sign Is Tonight

Some residents oppose a marker designating their area 'Little Saigon Business District.' Merchants say it will draw customers.

June 16, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

The Santa Ana City Council will decide tonight whether to designate part of the city the Little Saigon Business District to attract visitors, similar to neighborhoods in Garden Grove and Westminster.

If approved, a sign would be erected in western Santa Ana, at Harbor Boulevard and 1st Street, where some homeowners argued it would cause division rather than unity.

Vietnamese American business owners won approval from Westminster and Garden Grove this year to erect signs to promote business. Santa Ana, they said, has similar signs for Latino merchants on 4th Street, where markers refer to the area's Fiesta Marketplace.

"The Little Saigon sign is no different than the Fiesta Marketplace sign," said Ken Nguyen, coordinator of the Little Saigon Business District Committee and a Santa Ana resident for 25 years.

"It welcomes people to Little Saigon and Santa Ana."

The busy intersection, which the city has designated a redevelopment area, is composed mostly of Latino and Vietnamese residents, shops and restaurants.

Some longtime residents oppose the idea, Little Saigon committee organizers said.

Little Saigon developed in the 1970s as Vietnamese immigrants moved to central Orange County. What started with a few mom-and-pop businesses in Westminster has become a major shopping destination with hundreds of stores and restaurants spilling into neighboring cities such as Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Fountain Valley.

The sign, to be paid for by the Little Saigon committee, will be etched with a city logo and the slogan "Together We Build a Better Future" on one side and its Vietnamese translation on the other.

It will be designed with a South Vietnamese flag flying above bamboo trees, a symbol of resilience.

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