The controversial “Welcome to Little Saigon” sign near the intersection of Euclid and First Street in the city of Santa Ana is no more.Ã‚Â The sign which was paid for by Vietnamese businessmen and was erected in 2002 was completely demolished over the weekend when it was hit by a hit-and-run driver Saturday night or Sunday morning.Ã‚Â Officials from the City Manager’s office told me that city work crews will remove the debris and what is left of the sign as soon as today and that the Vietnamese Business Association will be billed for the work.
The sign, which was opposed by a large number of longtime residents, essentially advertised businesses outside the city of Santa Ana in Garden Grove and Westminster.Ã‚Â Despite the vocal opposition from residents the city council, led at the time by Brett Franklin, caved to the desires of powerful Vietnamese business lobby and allowed the sign to be placed in the center median along First Street just east of Euclid.Ã‚Â Franklin was running for the First District Board of Supervisors seat at the time and was pandering for votes and financial support from the Vietnamese community.
The debates leading up to the council vote on the issue were quite contentious with busloads of Vietnamese activists from outside the city showing up in the council chambers and at other public forums.Ã‚Â The tactics used to get the sign approved were not unlike those that have become all to familiar to us regarding the issue of the flag of Vietnam.Ã‚Â
The Vietnamese activists, many of whom brought large South Vietnam flags, pushed for the monument to include the flag of South Vietnam but not the American flag.Ã‚Â This angered many residents and in an effort to appease both sidesÃ‚Â the council decided to approve the monument with neither flag being displayed.Ã‚Â The Vietnamese businessmen reneged on their end of the deal and when the monument was unveiled the flag of South Vietnam was prominently displayed.
As of yesterday afternoon city officials did not know what the future of the sign would be.Ã‚Â They said it all depends on what the Vietnamese Busisness Association wants to do.Ã‚Â However many local residents expressed relief that the sign was now down and said they want it to stay down.Ã‚Â City officials told me that the police are still looking for the party responsible for hitting the sign and that they will keep me informed as to the future of the sign.
One thing is for sure, this sign issue will lead to more fireworks and contentious debate at Santa Ana City Hall.Ã‚Â Stay tuned for that.