Little Saigon’s future mulled

ASIAN GARDEN MALL (also known as the Phuoc Loc Tho shopping center) on Bolsa Avenue is in the heart of Westminster’s Little Saigon district (Chris Jepsen/Orange County Archives/Flickr).

Little Saigon in Westminster is arguably the largest business district serving a Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam, but where does it go – or grow – from here?

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Westminster City Council, a proposal to contract with a business liaison to work on the future of the district was approved on a 5-0 vote. The council appropriated $25,000 for the project.

Alexa Smittle, community development director, gave the council a report on a “Little Saigon Blueprint Investment,” touching on the origins, present conditions and possible future of the area, which generally runs along Bolsa Avenue between Brookhurst and Magnolia streets.

According to Smittle, “The overarching goal is to really dig in and find out how to move this area forward,” suggesting that it might not be “ready for the future.”

Issues to be addressed include signage, building design, changing buying habits, “creating a brand” for the area and adapting to technological changes.

Councilmember Kimberly Ho (District 3) praised the “Blueprint” and its direction. “I’m so excited, I’m speechless,” she said, “and I am rarely speechless.”

Counciilmember Carlos Manzo (District 2) suggested that a “gateway” in the form of an arch over Bolsa Avenue marking the district would help identify the area.

Also on Wednesday night, the council voted 5-0 to appropriate $20,000 for the re-opening of the council chamber for in-person meetings.

City Clerk Christine Cordon reported that the first “re-opened” meeting could take place on Oct. 13, but first the chamber would need to be fitted with Plexiglas barriers to reduce the chance of transmission of the coronavirus, and implement social distancing.

In the latter case, the available seating capacity of the chamber would be reduced to 18 to 20 seats. Some of those would be assigned to city staff; any available seats would go to members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis. “Overflow” attendees would be able to view the meeting on a large TV screen outside the chamber.

Vice Mayor Chi Charlie Nguyen advocated for holding the meetings in rooms in the community recreation building, thus increasing the number of persons able to attend in person. But Cordon cited some technical issues that might not make that “feasible” and raised the issue of social distancing without a physical barrier.



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