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Little Saigon To Get Cultural Landmark Sign On I-15 Freeway

The Little Saigon district in City Heights is seen in this undated photo.

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Above: The Little Saigon district in City Heights is seen in this undated photo.

The Legislature is poised to OK the addition of freeway signs promoting the city-designated Vietnamese business and cultural hub in San Diego's mid-city area. The move is the latest effort to brand the Little Saigon Cultural and Commercial District in City Heights as a destination.

The resolution from Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, directs Caltrans to price out the cost of cultural landmark signs for the Little Saigon region, which the Little Saigon San Diego Foundation will cover.

Reported by Roland Lizarondo

Gloria said the highway postings are a step toward a larger goal.

“Our vision for Little Saigon is something similar to what we now have in Little Italy. A number of years ago it wasn’t what it is now, but now it’s where everyone wants to go,” the Democratic lawmaker said.

The Assembly must still approve Senate amendments to the resolution, but a Caltrans spokesman said discussions with the Little Saigon San Diego Foundation are already underway.

The city of San Diego formally recognized the six-block region along the border of the City Heights and Talmadge communities in 2013. The area recently received a new mural from a traveling artist, and the Foundation is part of a collaborative art project to collect and present stories from the Vietnamese community.

Community groups also plan to include the Little Saigon region in its application for a state-designated multicultural district.

Communities of cultural and historic significance must meet certain criteria before a freeway sign will be considered, and it doesn't appear that legislative action is always required. According to a Senate analysis, there wasn’t clear indication Caltrans would move forward with the signs even though the area met requirements.

"The author has received mixed messages from Caltrans over how to ensure the signs are erected. This resolution is the surest way," the analysis said.

The Legislature is expected to push forward a plan to direct motorists from the freeway to the Little Saigon Cultural and Commercial District in San Diego's City Heights neighborhood.

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