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TimesOC: Does Anaheim’s Little Arabia deserve official designation?

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TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 3.

Little Arabia is but a sliver of Orange County’s most populous, and arguably most influential, city: Anaheim.

But the informal business district, which is dotted by eateries offering shawarma, grape leaves and baba ganoush, as well as a Coptic church, Islamic temples, law offices and hookah lounges, cannot seem to get the formal recognition enjoyed by, say, nearby Little Saigon.

For a decade now, writes reporter Benjamin Brazil, the city has politely resisted overtures to officially designate the Brookhurst Street business district Little Arabia.

But a poll conducted by UC San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center shows support for the idea.

“The recently released report shows that 58% of registered voters who responded to the poll support Little Arabia’s designation,” Brazil writes. “That number increased to more than 75% for respondents who have been to Little Arabia or know about it.”

The city’s top official is a declared fan of Little Arabia but isn’t ready to endorse making it a formal district.

Mayor Harry Sidhu said in an email to Brazil that the city has to “take a broader, more inclusive view when it comes to formal designations.” He makes the point that the population in the area is more than half Latino and many businesses along Brookhurst “may not see themselves as part of Little Arabia.”

“We also need to ensure that all feel welcome,” he wrote.

Merchants in the area next plan to take the issue up with the chamber of commerce.

Kareem Hawari, owner of Kareem's Falafel in Anaheim, pours chipotle tahini into a serving container.
Kareem Hawari, owner of Kareem’s Falafel in Anaheim, pours chipotle tahini into a serving container in January 2020.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

In other news, there’s a lot of virus-related information in today’s newsletter — including a Laguna Beach resident’s quest to provide valuable tips on how to sign up for a vaccine in O.C.

Here are the latest headlines:

News

— As Orange County COVID-19 vaccinations surpass 264,000, locals provide tips on finding, booking appointments

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— Multiple GOP candidates for O.C. supervisors seat could split the Republican vote in March 9 election

43 new deaths reported in Orange County due to COVID-19

Progress made on crucial wildlife corridor connecting O.C. coast with Cleveland National Forest

‘Our message is to take the vaccine,’ says family of man whose death after COVID shot is under investigation

Braille is everywhere, but most blind kids can’t read it. A competition hopes to change that

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