LA
07/29/2013 05:26 pm ET

Monterey Park Votes To Mandate Signs In English

Should business owners be required to post signs in English? Or should they have the freedom to post signs in whichever language they choose?

That question is stirring controversy in a Southern Californian city that is about 70 percent Asian. The Monterey Park City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to require businesses to put up at least one sign that uses the “modern Latin alphabet,” NBC reports.

Forcing stores to put up signs specifically in English isn’t allowed, the city attorney told ABC. But it is lawful to require signs in "Modern Latin" letters (A through Z) and "Hindu Arabic" numbers (0 through 9).

Monterey Park is 48 percent Chinese, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Reasons for enacting the rule include improving police and fire response times, promoting business and improving public safety.

But some business owners say it should be their right to post signs only in Chinese, which is the primary language of their customers, KTLA reports. They also point out that the police and fire department are able to find addresses in residential neighborhoods, where there are no signs.

The city’s fire chief told CBS off-camera that the department has no problem identifying the buildings through their GPS system.

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