Voters may decide name of Saigon district

February 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
In San Jose, the Vietnamese community is proving, you can fight City Hall. The pressure and protests over the name of the Vietnamese business district-- is working.

Some call it giving in, while the mayor calls it compromise. He and council woman Madison Nguyen are backing a new idea that lets the people have the final say.

"The council should on March 4 rescind the actions taken in Nov., and put the issue of whether to call this district Little Saigon on the ballot," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

San Jose's mayor and council woman Madison Nguyen are extending an olive branch of sorts to the city's Vietnamese community.

"This is the truest form of democracy, we live in a democratic society and this is the truest form of democracy," said San Jose City Council member Madison Nguyen.

The controversy stems from the council's decision to name a portion of Story Road, "Saigon Business District" -- many Vietnamese prefer "Little Saigon."

If the rest of the council agrees, voters in November will be asked: "Shall the story road retail area between Senter Road and U.S. 101 be named Little Saigon?"

Adding the ballot measure will cost more than $300,000 dollars.

"That's the only way people's voice can be truly heard! Let's play fair game if it's yes or no, it's a democratic way," said Little Saigon supporter Barry Do.

Barry Do supports the name, Little Saigon. He says it gives refugees a proud trademark in the U.S.

"I like the word business because it's businesses, but personally, I don't care, whatever they call is okay with me," said Alan Ly from Noodle restaurant.

Alan Ly's restaurant is in the heart of the district in question. He's just glad the area's being recognized, the formal name it's given -- is irrelevant to him.

But it wasn't to thousands at Sunday's lunar New Year parade, who cheered in support of "Little Saigon."

Nguyen was 'not' to invited to the parade. She hopes today's move will bring balance back to her community.

This is not a done deal. Other council members could decide they want to keep Saigon business district that should be hashed out on March 4th.

The rules and regulations committee also needs to weigh in on this and whether Madison Nguyen violated a public meeting law when it came to naming the district.