San Diego Officially Has “Little Saigon Cultural and Commercial District”

Dear friends and future visitors of San Diego Community:

On Tuesday, June 4, 2013 the City Council of San Diego designated a stretch of public roadway and business corridor as a new district called, “Little Saigon.” What happened on that day is a culmination of more than five years of collaboration among local businesses, community organizations, neighborhood residents, and city government.  On that Tuesday, we came together to write a new chapter in the history of San Diego.

This all started with a simple theory:  By focusing on name-recognition, we brand the community and demonstrate that persistent efforts to improve a developing area can be accelerated once spontaneous excitement and individual pride are developed by local businesses and neighborhoods. With a detailed revitalization plan to serve the neighborhood’s structural and cultural needs, Little Saigon Foundation began addressing the concerns of fellow residents with a variety of programs developed by our new organization. The many gatherings we hosted, specifically our street clean-ups and festivals, became more than elements of a business model to create an official business district—they became the voice of a community. With the public designation now in place, this voice can speak two words proudly – Little Saigon - words that identify a vibrant force of culture, tradition, civic engagement, and opportunity.

After the signs have been hung and the flag banners waved, Little Saigon will remain as a translated pronunciation of mixed cultures rich in history from our homeland, Vietnam, and America. We have worked to build the bridge of assimilation and unite two distinct nations into one vibrant region of America’s Finest City. Doing so has only been possible with the immense support of our friends—both the residents who lived in this area before the Vietnamese immigration, and the allies who have recently joined in support of a healthy, growing area. I would like to honor these esteemed organizations and individuals for working tirelessly to make our stretch of El Cajon Boulevard a clean, safe, and diverse locale for San Diego to enjoy.

In Vietnamese, the common phrase, “Gần mực thì đen, gần đèn thì rạng,” asserts that if you are near ink you will be in darkness, near light you will shine. Over the years, our community could find little reason to feel a sense of pride in dirty sidewalks or dark, unsafe neighborhoods. Now, as San Diego’s newest cultural neighborhood, we can finally enjoy the glow of public acknowledgment and mutual cooperation.

However, there is still a long road ahead, with additional support needed for business promotion, facade improvement, and infrastructure revitalization, not to mention establishing a community center, and developing long-term programs for under-privileged youth. With the two bold words “Little Saigon” now rooted in San Diego’s history, the branches of our tree must expand to include all community groups, encouraging the flowers of our efforts to blossom.

I humbly welcome you to a new beginning with the Little Saigon Foundation, to join us in our future plans and activities. Whether it is in the form of a lunch meeting spotlighting Vietnamese noodles, or a presentation of hanging delights at the Lantern Festival, we will continue to share, educate, and promote our newfound identity for generations both old and young. With the help of our friends, we can begin to shed light on this stretch of El Cajon Boulevard and shine together in the district we are proud to call Little Saigon.

To a brighter future!

Frank Vuong
Little Saigon San Diego Foundation

We celebrate the following leaders with gratitude:
Councilnember Marti Emerald
Councilmember/President Todd Gloria
Councilmember Mark Kersey and all other City Councilmembers
County Supervisor Ron Roberts
Mayor Bob Filner
Former Mayor Jerry Sanders
Congresswoman Susan Davis
Assemblymember Marty Block
City of San Diego Human Relations Commission (Dannell Scarborough)

Community Organizations
City Heights Area Planning Committee (Jim Varnadore)
City Heights Community Development Corporation (Cynthia Fargo, Sakara Tears)
El Cajon Business Improvement Association (Cường Nguyễn, Jackie O’Connor)
Herbert Hoover High School (Principal Dr. Chuch Podhorsky)
Kensington/Talmadge Planning Group (David Moty)
King Hung Association (Hoạch Trần)
Little Tokyo Service Center
Local Initiative Support Corporation (Vicky Rodriguez)
Nguoi Viet Today News
San Diego Foundation (Felicia Shaw)
San Diego Registrar of Voters (Michael Vũ, Juanito Amor, Carmen Lopez)
Viet Tan Reform Party (Mai Lang Luông)
Tiếng Nước Tôi Radio (Nghĩa Trọng Trần)
Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce (Sử Nguyễn)
Vietnamese Community of San Diego (Lực Nguyễn, Kim-Trang Đặng)
Vietnamese Student Association at SDSU
Recent Grant Donors
ENGAGE San Diego
Local Initiative Support Corporation
Parker Foundation
Price Charities
Recent Corporate Sponsors
SDG&E (Risa Baron)
State Farm (Mo Mahony)
Valley View Casino
Weingart Foundation
Wells Fargo (Jack Toan)

Small Businesses
Ba Lẹ Restaurant (Thanh Trần)
Belle Photo (Bảo Lai)
Cali Baguette Express (Thiện Phùng, Việt Phùng & Family)
Caliland Realty (Sơn Thái Phạm)
Danh Truong Medical Office (Danh Trương, M.D.)
El Cajon Family Medical Clinic (Sony Võ, M.D.)
Hoài Huế Restaurant (Hiệp Điệp & Family)
Intelligent Care Medical Clinic (Lance Lê, M.D.)
Minh Hoa Supermarket (Vũ Trần)
Nguyễn Nam’s Tax (Nam Nguyễn)
Phở Ca Dao Restaurant (Huỳnh Thi & Family)
Phở King Restaurant (Charlie Nguyễn & Family)

Special Individuals
Ánh Loan Nguyễn (Nails by Johnny)
Beryl Forman (El Cajon Blvd Business Improvement Association)
Dan Hom (Focuscom Inc)
David Châu (Cao & Pacello Law Group)
Đình Thảo Lê (Hair Pros Barber Shop)
Gayle Hom (Price Charities)
Jim Varnadore (Friend of City Heights)
Lộc Nguyễn (Lộc’s Tax Services)
Mark Trần (Mid-City Community Advocacy Network)
Michael Shefcik (Hoover High School)
Paul Hoa Trần, Ph.D (Tran Consulting Engineers, Inc)
Phong Huỳnh (Built Green California)
Quỳnh Nguyễn (Center for Policy Initiatives)
Thiện Đỗ
Trạng Tấn Lê (San Diego Beauty College)
Staff and Volunteers
Aaron Nunez
Anthony Bảo Trần
Anya Kuzman
Brett Landry
Carla Warda
Charlotte Riggert
Claudia Duran
Cody Huff
David Haskins
Gracelynne West
Jenee Maree
Kendrick Ton
Lisa Phan
Lương Long
Malou Amparo
Maggie Ikezaki
Melanie Fritz
Melisa Bourniquel
Miss Queena Quý
Romer Fajota
Nora Wallenius
Philip Phan
Serena Ngô
Susan Nguyễn
Teresa Nguyễn
Tim Hoàng
Tommy Lê
Tommy Lee
Trâm B. Lâm
Trang Bùi
Trinh Lê
Ursula Lewis
Vân Trần
Victor Wilson

P.S.  While it is our intention to acknowledge everyone who has collaborated with the Little Saigon Foundation to bring about the designation of the Little Saigon San Diego District, it is not possible to mention all the hundreds of people who have collaborated with us on this effort.  We are in debt to everyone’s contribution and apologize if we have inadvertently omitted any important names.