Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Monterey Park May Enforce "Modern Latin Alphabet" On Store Signs

Benjamin Li |
August 8, 2013 | 6:07 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

A Chinese restaurant's neon signs in Monterey Park, California. (Michael R. Perry)
A Chinese restaurant's neon signs in Monterey Park, California. (Michael R. Perry)
Monterey Park, a municipality with a population around 70% Asian-American, is in the process of reviewing a recently proposed measure requiring all commercial storefronts to display “modern Latin alphabet.” 

The proposed amendment was approved by the Monterey Park City Council two weeks earlier, but council members unanimously postponed plans after facing what one member called “a whirlwind of anger and confusion” from Monterey Park residents.

The City Council has drawn the attention of many ethnic civil rights groups threatening the city with lawsuits.

According to SCPR, Mayor Anthony Wong maintains that the amendment is meant to help the police and fire departments better locate emergency sites.

“In case there is any accident, or whatever, if the sign is not something that they can read, then it is hard for them to locate the premises if they receive a call for an accident or emergency,” said Wong.

L.A. Times reports councilman Mitch Ing saying ordinance is really about public safety, not race or language.

“We’re blowing this up to a different proportion than it had to be,” said Ing during a council meeting.

Monterey Park and its neighboring cities have long been known as classic hotspots for Asian Americans in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, to the point where most stores in the region have commercial signs in other languages.

Most residents are not even aware that the law requires the regulation of language use.

“You can not be able to speak a word of English and still get along perfectly fine in cities like Monterey Park,” said Alex Lee, a recent USC graduate that was raised in Taiwan.

In the 1980’s, English-only sign laws were a longstanding conflict between Asian immigrants and older residents of the former Monterey Park communit, and is still a fresh memory in the minds of many older Monterey Park residents.

The Monterey Park City Council is set to convene on Oct. 2 for a discussion, after a thorough investigation into the constitutionality of the proposed amendment.

 

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