At today's Education and Neighborhoods Committee meeting at City Hall, committee members are expected to consider Councilman Ed Reyes' motion to re-activate an application to rename the areas of Westlake, MacArthur Park, and Pico Union as the "Central American Historical District." The initial application, filed in June 2007, reasoned that
[The] area is where many Central American immigrants first set foot in the US. It has become a symbol of the Central American community's plight and rebirth. This is evident in the small business, culture and community organizations in this area that many call the "Heart of Central America."
But it wasn't long before it was met with a flurry of opposition, from long-time residents and neighborhood stakeholders. Representatives from the Pueblo Nuevo and Pico Union neighborhood watches said:
How could you ever consider a name change for a large area of Los Angeles in the United States of America, for a small group of people from other countries? We live in a community with many nationalities and are trying to live together peacefully, instead of dividing the people. We adamantly oppose the renaming of our community!!!!
A U.S. Army Veteran said:
I've lived in Pico Union for the last twenty years, there is a lot more nationalities than just Central Americans. There is Japanese American, Mexican American, Chinese American, and Puerto Rican American. The name will just concentrate on one ethic background, and Pico Union is made up of many backgrounds -- which makes Pico Union unique.
Due to its inactivity and not being placed on the agenda for a period longer than two years, the Council file was closed in August 2011. But now it will be up for reconsideration, in connection with plans to establish a "Central American Cultural District"
Neighborhoods often define our lives and who we are as city residents. We become ingrained in the local culture and everyday activities of where we live, and we begin to take ownership of our neighborhood -- it's part of the natural evolution of a city.
So what happens when there's a disruption in the process? How would you react if your neighborhood earned a new name, especially one that singled out a specific ethnicity -- which you didn't belong to? Let us know.