Long Beach, Calif., is now officially home of Cambodia Town: a 1.6-kilometer strip of American street that planners hope will leave the permanent stamp of Cambodians living there.
Long Beach city council approved the designation in a meeting July 3. From now on, the stretch of Anaheim Street between Junipero Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard will now be known as Cambodian Town.
"The opportunity to have Cambodia Town allows us, both the older and younger generations, to work together to preserve our culture," said Sithea San, chairwoman of Cambodia Town, Inc. "I'm really grateful to have worked with everyone in making Cambodia Town happen. This will go down in the history of all Cambodian Americans." Cambodia Town's inception did not come without struggle.
Cambodia Town, Inc.'s Web site acknowledged some protest from others in the Long Beach community who were not Cambodian.
"While we understand these concerns, we do not see how honoring one group's contributions dishonors anyone else's," the group said on its Web site. "Ethnic districts can benefit everyone in a neighborhood by drawing tourists and diners, something that worn-out stretch of Anaheim Street could use."
City Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal said the vote recognized the "dedication and commitment of the Cambodian-American community" to the Anaheim Street corridor.
"This effort really was to strengthen businesses on Anaheim [Street] to find a unified way to ensure that Anaheim is rehabilitated and improved through the facade improvement process and also to recruit very viable businesses to the streets," she said.