The city council of Santa Clara, a diverse suburb north of San Jose right smack in the heart of Silicon Valley has rejected a proposal by a group of Korean businesses to designate their stretch of El Camino Real (a main drag) "Koreatown." Since the early 1980's Korean-owned businesses have been steadily increasing along this stretch so that now you see as many signs in Korean as English.
The Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Silicon Valley, the group behind the proposal not only wanted "Koreantown" signs erected but proposed that the city hire a Korean-speaking police officer and that Korean businesses also hang English signs.
The city council said no citing the fact that they did want to give one group special status and saying that CalTran prohibited such signs on public roadways. (Huh, I wonder how many signs will lead to and designate the new 49ers stadium that will likely be built in Santa Clara, but I digress.)
The article I linked above says the whole point is moot because official designation or not, Koreatown already exists along that stretch. While that is true, what is the real problem with officially recognizing it as "Koreatown?" San Francisco has an official Chinatown and Japantown and I wouldn't be surprised if Koreatown follows. San Jose has a Japantown with a very rich history. Los Angeles has Chinatown and Koreatown. Cities surrounding Santa Clara have no problem with singling out one group, so what's the big deal? Cultural sections of cities exist, businesses and patrons of those businesses contribute to the economic growth of the city...what's the problem with giving it a name?
I dunno. I call bullshit. Koreans have been contributing members of Santa Clara society for over 25 years. At the end of the day, we're talking about a couple of signs. Right?
If you feel inclined to write a letter in support of the Korean American Chamber of commerce, here's where you can send it (online):
—Stefania Pomponi Butler