SANTA ANA – Santa Ana, home to a portion of Little Saigon, may consider a measure similar to one that both Westminster and Garden Grove adopted in 2004 aimed at discouraging visits by Vietnamese government and trade officials.
Mayor Miguel Pulido, who is advocating the measure with Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez, said that local Vietnamese leaders urged him to look into a measure similar to a resolution that Westminster adopted in May 2004. They plan to bring it up for discussion when the council meets Monday.
It directed city staff to request that the State Department give the city at least 10 business days’ notice of such official visits to allow time for police to prepare. Westminster’s resolution said that costs incurred for police in the event of similar disturbances should be paid by those who are responsible.
The resolutions of both Westminster and Garden Grove cited mass demonstrations in Little Saigon in 1999 when a video store owner displayed a flag of communist Vietnam and a picture of Ho Chi Minh.
“When a visitor from communist Vietnam comes here, it hurts the community,” Pulido said at a press conference outside City Hall earlier this month. “So we have to be in solidarity, and say we stand for freedom, we stand for human rights everywhere in the world without exception.”
He was joined at the event by Alvarez, Assemblyman Jose Solorio and several leaders of the Vietnamese American community in Orange County.
“This ordinance, although it’s already passed in Westminster and Garden Grove, is very important in Santa Ana, much more than in the other cities, because it is the county seat,” said Joseph Dovinh, a Garden Grove planning commissioner. “It sends a strong message that Santa Ana, along with other cities in Orange County, supports human rights for Vietnam. We want to see democratization in Vietnam, and we do not welcome official visits from officials from Vietnam who are not in solidarity with us. They continue to violate human rights, and continue to be a dictatorship and authoritarian.”
The issue of the two cities’ measures had come up during a Vietnamese-language television program that Pulido took part in, the mayor said. He said that when he asked what the city could do for the Vietnamese community in Santa Ana, he was told about what the other two cities had done in 2004.
“I said we ought to have it,” Pulido said. “We ought to have it right now.”
The measures in Westminster and Garden Grove were both adopted in May 2004, and both expired April 30, 2009. Garden Grove’s measure sought a 14-day notification of a proposed visit.
“Maybe it’s time that they reconsider and vote on it again,” Pulido said. “I’ll mention it to them for sure.”
He said he’d also ask residents for feedback when the council meets.
Westminster City Councilman Andy Quach, who was on the council when the resolution was adopted, said he didn’t recall any situations in which it was implemented, but added that it wouldn’t hurt to renew it.
“Always good to be well prepared when unwelcome people want to drop in uninvited,” he said via email.
Garden Grove city officials said that while the resolution there expired, it came into play once, they believe.
“A contingent from Vietnam had been in Washington, D.C. and were traveling back to that country and inquired about staying in Garden Grove,” said Police Chief Kevin Raney in an email. “They had somehow publicized the possibility they may stay in Garden Grove, which caused quite a few inquiries from the Vietnamese community and the declared desire to protest if this group did stay in Garden Grove. The traveling group, which had provided only 48 hours of notice when making this inquiry, was told of this ordinance and that their possible presence had become public and protests were expected. The group did not stay in Garden Grove.”
The Santa Ana City Council meets at 5:45 p.m. Monday in chambers at 22 Civic Center Plaza.