Ethnic district designation would honor refugees
There are some understandable concerns being voiced about naming a section of Long Beach Cambodia Town. We have spoken with and received letters from plenty of people who feel that a special designation for Cambodians would be at the expense of blacks, Hispanics and whites who have also hung their shingles along Anaheim Street between Junipero Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.
While we understand these concerns, we do not see how honoring one group's contributions dishonors anyone else's. The proposal the City Council plans to consider tonight recognizes hardworking refugees who have made homes and built businesses in the central city. It does not do so at the exclusion of any other race or ethnicity.
There are indeed people of all nationalities living and working in Artesia's Little India, L.A.'s Koreatown and any number of Southern California ethnic districts. The same is true for what would become Cambodia Town. Such designations merely call attention to a neighborhood's unique characteristics, but not so at the expense of the other ethnicities.
Ethnic districts can benefit everyone in a neighborhood by drawing tourists and diners, something that worn-out stretch of Anaheim Street could use. We doubt, for example, that Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia would draw so many visitors without Little India, but that doesn't mean the city's sizeable Portuguese and Hispanic populations are invisible to outsiders.
In addition, there is something special in recognizing Cambodian refugees - and their children - who escaped a brutal regime at home before finding the American dream in a welcoming city, Long Beach.
Though there is dissent, the proposal has the unanimous approval of the Housing and Neighborhoods Committee and is being carried by the committee's chairwoman, City Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal. Committee polling found support for a Cambodia Town. Here's a little more.
written by the Press Telegram editor. Article Launched:07/02/2007 06:31:30 PM PDT -------------------------------------------------------------------------
In partnership with Cambodian-American citizens, community leaders, and various Cambodian associations and organizations in Long Beach, Cambodia Town, Inc. wishes to submit to the Long Beach City Council the attached proposal requesting that a section of Anaheim Street between Junipero and Atlantic Avenue be officially named “Cambodia Town.” This proposal is the result of meetings held on August 19 and October 14, 2001 at the Cambodian Association of America (CAA) with interested citizens and leaders from Long Beach and the surrounding areas. As a result of these meetings, the Cambodia Town Initiative Task Force (CTITF) was formally created in 2002 and recognized as a working task force to lay the ground work for this initiative. In November 25, 2005, the Task Force decided to officially incorporate.
The desire to have this section of Anaheim Street designated by the Long Beach City Council has been developing within the community for a long time. As the home to the largest concentration of Cambodian families and businesses in Long Beach, it is viewed by many to be the heart of the Cambodian American community. It was the success of the Little Phnom Penh banners along Anaheim Street by United Cambodian Community, Inc.(UCC) that inspired many of us to create the CTITF. It even caught the attention of the media and the “Los Angeles Times” wrote an article (July 15, 2001) about these banners. It was a powerful catalyst that united the whole Cambodian-American community.
Cambodian-Americans from the greater Los Angeles County, Orange County, and as far away as San Diego, Fresno, Stockton, Oakland, and San Jose come to this area on a regular basis to shop, eat, and do business. Cambodians from all over the world know about Long Beach, California. We feel that with the official recognition of this section of Long Beach as “Cambodia Town,” it will improve the business client for current stores, attract new businesses, bring in tourists, and increase civic pride. It will elevate the economic well-being of the neighborhood adjacent to the corridor. We hope that you will agree. Thank you in advance for your careful consideration of our proposal.