SAN DIEGO—Just a few days shy of San Diego legend Tom Hom’s 95th birthday, Mayor Todd Gloria unveiled an honorary Tom Hom Avenue street sign on Feb. 12 at a ceremony held at downtown’s Chinese Historical District.
Tom Hom is a San Diego icon due to his political and business achievements. He was elected to the City Council in 1963 as the first non-Caucasian member. He served from 1968–1970 at the California State Assembly and became the second Asian American in the legislature.
Hom also played a pivotal role in re-developing San Diego downtown and the famous Gaslamp business district.
“It’s an honor to recognize such a pioneer in this city,” Gloria said, according to City News Service. “Mr. Hom’s contributions as an elected official and businessman have indeed been instrumental in shaping San Diego into the place that it is today.”
City councilman Steve Whiteburn, who represents the downtown district, told The Epoch Times that the 9-member city council voted unanimously supporting the honorary naming.
“We really wanted to honor Mr. Hom for his legacy in the city of San Diego,” Whiteburn said. “Mr. Hom is known for many things. One of them is the revitalization of downtown. He had so much vision and energy and imagination, he saw what downtown San Diego can be. Much of what we have here in San Diego today is a testament to his legacy.”
At the ceremony, Hom told the audience that when he was in the office, he tried to “improve something that needed improving, such as where minorities are able to buy a house wherever they want.” It earned applauds from the audience.
In a 2011 interview with The Epoch Times, Hom retold his experiences growing up in San Diego at the turn of the 20th century. He said he faced laws that restricted minorities from buying houses in certain areas. Even though the family eventually bought a house despite the restrictions, he said, those experiences had motivated him to be a policymaker and bring changes.
San Diego downtown’s Third Avenue was chosen as the dedicated street because it was the heart of the historic Chinatown where Hom was born, said one of the event organizers, Natasha Wong, who herself is a second-generation Chinese American and also sits on Mayor’s Asian Advisory Board.
A street name like this “is very important for all of us, especially the young people here in San Diego, to see that we belong here in San Diego, and [that] someone has made so many contributions to our society and our community, whether being in politics, government, civic duty, an artist, and an author, someone we all look up to, is recognized for his contribution,” Wong told The Epoch Times.
Born on Feb. 15, 1927, as one of 12 children to a family of Chinese immigrants, Hom said now his big family has more than 100 members. Hom’s children, grandchildren, and some of the great-grandchildren sitting on top of their fathers’ shoulders and in mothers’ arms were among the warm-hearted crowd at the ceremony.