San Diego now has a Little Saigon

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego has a Little Italy and as of Tuesday, it has added Little Saigon and the Vietnamese community is ecstatic.

San Diego City Council unanimously vote Tuesday to create the “Little Saigon Cultural and Business District” along El Cajon Boulevard from Highland Avenue to Euclid Avenue.

Vietnamese are the second largest Asian population in San Diego, after Filipinos. Yet, the community said the approval is as much about business as it is about recognition.

AScreen Shot 2013-06-04 at 6.50.35 PMs with Little Italy, Vietnamese community leaders hope to use the new official name as a marketing brand.

Frank Vuong, with the Little Saigon Foundation, led the efforts to turn the 6-block stretch of City Heights into Little Saigon. He hopes the newly named district helps attract more events, businesses that can create jobs and help bring improvements to the area.

“The city can say, ‘hey man, it’s the Little Saigon District,’ and you can look it up on Google map,” said Vuong. “A lot of people don’t like to go to City Heights because they think it’s a ghetto area and we will change that.”

The designation also has a deeper meaning for many Vietnamese residents.

Kim-Trang Dang came to San Diego 30 years ago as a political refugee. She was forced to leave her home country after the capture of Saigon by communist forces.

“It’s a little bit emotional,” said Trang Dang. “We lost it [Saigon] in 1975 and now we have it here with us, it touches our hearts.”

Plans for the new district include a beautification project to change the area’s façade.

San Diego has roughly the third largest Vietnamese community in the country.