Alief residents fight plan to create 'Little Saigon' district

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A Houston city councilman wants to designate a part of Alief as 'Little Saigon,' but the idea is not sitting well with a group of residents.

Residents in Alief opposed a plan to call part of their community "Little Saigon" at a town hall meeting Wednesday night.

Houston City Council Member Steve Le of District F is proposing the district in an effort to fuel economic development, he says. It would stretch from Turtlewood to Cook along Bellaire Boulevard in southwest Houston and would only include commercial entities. "Little Saigon" is a name used in other cities for Vietnamese-American enclaves.

"The constituents, the Vietnamese business owners said we need something to attract tourists," Le told Eyewitness News before the meeting. "Okay, so this is my vision."

About 125 people attended the meeting at the Alief Community Center. Twenty-five people signed up to speak. All but two passionately opposed the idea. The ones who didn't asked a question or spoke on a different subject.

"I think we don't need more signs," said one man.

"Mr. Le, I know your vision is well-meaning but please listen to all your constituents," said a woman.

The most common complaint was that it's not inclusive.

"You're causing segregation. It looks racist. It's offensive," said the first speaker.

Le, who was surprised by the opposition, says he plans to hold two more meetings for more input, and if he doesn't hear any comments in favor of the proposal, he tells Eyewitness News he's prepared to scrap the idea altogether.

"If the community as a collective whole says this is not a good idea, then all right," said Le after the meeting.
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