FREMONT (CBS 5) – The idea of renaming a portion of Fremont that is home to many Afghani-Americans as ‘Little Kabul’ is being met with opposition by several residents and business owners.

The area in question has long been known as Centerville, which is a source of pride for Fremont Flowers owner Dirk Lorenz.

“It’s a name that spans decades,” said Lorenz, who claims his business would suffer if the name change to Little Kabul became official. “My business is a traditional, Christian-style business. It celebrates specific holidays throughout year that, perhaps in Afghan culture, are not celebrated.”

A group known as “The Committee to Reclaim Centerville” has recently been formed to prevent the name change. The organization is printing up Centerville T-shirts, and holding a meeting in support of the Centerville name on September 4th.

The city hasn’t received a formal application for the name change, and Vice Mayor Sue Chan said the Centerville title has too much historic significance to get rid of it.

“Centerville is Centerville. We want to celebrate that,” said Chan.

The head of the Afghan Coalition, the largest Afghan-American organization in the U.S., lobbied for the ‘Little Kabul’ name shortly after 9/11, but dropped the plan after backlash developed.

“We found out it’s a very historic place, so of course we will respect that,” said Afghan Coalition Executive Director Rona Popal. “We just want to promote both Centerville and Little Kabul … We want to make a tourist attraction which is going to be a good engine to drive the economy.”

Popal said local Afghans in Centerville are especially sensitive about this issue with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 coming up. She said the Afghan Coalition has already begun to reach out to different groups to start a dialogue for better understanding.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (20)
  1. beasthil says:

    Why can’t both names be used. I enjoy going to Fremont and buying the Afghan bread from the bakery off Maple street.
    Just like San Jose, has a Japan Town. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and we fought them in WWII. They can have part of a city named for their country. They wanted to destroy us. Why not this?

    1. Jennifer De Guzman says:

      Well, to be fair, Japantown is named after Japanese immigrants who came to San Jose before World War II. However, the same is true for many Afghan residents of Fremont who came here before the war in Afghanistan. They came here escaping the war with the U.S.’s enemy at the time, the Soviet Union! We should celebrate our city’s diversity.

  2. Hilary says:

    Dirk Lorenz should be ashamed of himself. Through this news story he has revealed himself to be a selfish bigot. How humiliating for his family and business.

    1. Jennifer De Guzman says:

      I agree. He also is not a very good businessman if he can’t see the value of diversity for his business. Flowers are not a Christian-exclusive product.

      I got the flowers for my father’s funeral at Fremont Flowers and it is also the place I think of when I need flowers for any occasion. However, now I will avoid it. I don’t want to support a man who is bigoted and unneighborly.

    2. Dirk lorenz says:

      Hilary….I suggest you meet me and get to know me… As you have rushed to judge someone based on a media hyped non story. Totally taken out of context…my comment was I as explained below….a statement that those who do not celebrate Christian holidays would have no use for those products I sell. Simply a statement of fact that ignores the fact that I have many business associates and friends of Afghan descent in Centerville and love that they have their businesses there. If you care about the real facts….then I suggest you speak with them. Get to know me (or for that matter anyone else) before you make such nasty statements.

  3. Reese says:

    So much for the ‘uber-tolerant’ bay area. Bigotry is alive and well here.

  4. Mohammad Abobaker says:

    If the name of this area is changed to Little Kabul then I would believe that United States is a real democrat country. Secondly, I would say that this area could have both names.

    1. InGodWeTrust says:

      You would agree then of course to have a city in your country of origin renamed “In God We Trust” ? Or a city in Japan called “Pearl Harbor”? Let’s be fair.

  5. Mohammad Abobaker says:

    Well excuse me, first you should go and check out where have you come from. No offense but obviously Europe, Asia or Africa.

    If you believe they are visitors then you are not more than a visitor too. You are not an American until you don’t believe they are because hundreds of years ago different people came form different countries of the world and shaped a place by the Name of Unites States of America.

    1. InGodWeTrust says:

      Well excuse me if I correct you on your lack of American historical knowledge. We are all immigrants except for our brothers the American Indians. We came to this country because we believe in God and a better way of life free from oppression and religious persecution. We assimilated, eagerly learned the language, the dress, the customs and wanted to belong. If that is your true purpose than you have the right to be here, if not then why are you here?

  6. fremontnative says:

    So, let’s see….. there has been no recent effort to have Centerville renamed, the Afghan Coalition Executive Director says that the historical value of the name Centerville needs to be respected, and City Hall has said that they’re going to keep it as is. So what exactly is the problem, and what exactly does “reclaiming Centerville” mean?

  7. Mr. Bruce says:

    This is an example of the media inflating a pseudo-conflict to make a story. The media even coined the name “Little Kabul” after 9-11. Of course Afghans like the designation, but never to diminish the Centerville identity, except as imagined by the media and some phobic locals. For decades Centerville has been a depressed economic zone, a shadow of its former self. The resulting low business rents are part of what attracted Afghan entrepreneurs to the neighborhood. Now there is an opportunity to highlight the area for tourism: see

  8. Bruce Green says:

    This is an example of the media inflating a pseudo-conflict to make a story. The media even coined the name “Little Kabul” after 9-11. Of course Afghans like the designation, but never to diminish the Centerville identity, except as imagined by the media and some phobic locals. For decades Centerville has been a depressed economic zone, a shadow of its former self. The resulting low business rents are part of what attracted Afghan entrepreneurs to the neighborhood. Now there is an opportunity to highlight the area for tourism: see

    1. Dirk Lorenz says:

      Bruce…you Do know me. I believe when you refer to “phobic” locals…you should not generalize as I am deeply offended by the way the media spun a non-story into a racial conflict and how those who do not know me may think to group me with such locals. When I was asked if we see many customers of afghan descent …it stands to reason that those who do not celebrate traditional Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter would not have the need for those products. It was a statement of fact. The media put the rest of the story together and I was appalled at how it was spun. As you know, I am an opened minded individual who embraces all cultures. I have my favorite Afghan restaurants located right in Centerville.

      1. Bruce Green says:

        Yes Dirk, I know you are not a bigot and it was unfortunate the media entrapped you on this one. I think they were baiting for a conflict-salted story, maybe leading up to their 9-11 anniversary coverage. For my part, I use the “phobic” descriptor for those who fear a “Little Kabul” component will eclipse the Centerville identity. I believe that is an unrealistic fear, and there is no need to “reclaim” Centerville. Reclaim from what? If the committee was for “promoting Centerville” that would make better sense. To me the “reclaim” name is a fear-based reaction to a non-existent threat. What do the T-shirts communicate?

  9. Jennifer De Guzman says:

    If anyone doubts that racism is behind the “Committee to Reclaim Centerville,” please read the disgusting comments in this thread, made by the very people who are organizing it:

    Contrary to what people against designating part of Centerville (yes, PART — about two blocks of Fremont Blvd., and Fremont Flowers isn’t even within those blocks) say, they are the ones trying to divide our community. The Afghan community has been part of Fremont for about thirty years now, and they are an important part of our wonderful diversity. If you are opposed to racism and division in Centerville, please search for “Centerville is for EVERYONE” on Facebook. Some like-minded residents of Fremont are planning to show this ridiculous “Committee” that they don’t speak for us.

    1. Dirk lorenz says:

      Jennifer….I suggest you meet me and get to know me…as you would find we feel similarly I also have the cafe at the train depot…and one of my good friends (who happens to be afghani) has the business right next door. We talked when this interview was taking place and honestly could not figure out what this was all about!

  10. Dirk Lorenz says:

    This is Dirk from Fremont Flowers….most all who have posted on this blog do not know me…as if you did, you would know that I am not a bigot. In the case of this news report, I was surprised by the interest in a story that was over two years old. I was unaware on any effort to “reclaim Centerville” and felt somewhat ambushed by this reporter when she showed up unannounced. I commented at how surprised I was to hear of such an effort. The sound bites you heard on the report were taken out of context. I had just explained the multicultural aspect of Centerville and some of the good friends I have made in the Afghan business community. Before you start to make judgements about myself or my business…go speak with my fellow Afghan business friends in Centerville…. David Siddiq, Junior Mousaar or the gentleman who owns The Kabob House and De Afghan restaurant (Aziz- who was also interviewed) as well as the owner of Salang Pass restaurant where my wife and I celebrated our wedding day with friends 11 days after THE September 11 to stand in solidarity with our Afghan friends. We buy from Miwand Market as the nann bread is fantastic. YOU don’t know me…and you should be ashamed of yourselves for passing judgement on those you don’t know.

  11. IN GOD WE TRUST says:

    If something is presented into a community that is contrary and controversial it is difficult to back down if you are the usurper. But you should with tolerance.

  12. floyd burney says:

    This is no different than what the Muslims tried to do with the Mosque at ground zero. (in case you bay area libs have forgotten or rejected the truth of the matter that Muslims build Mosques on conquered lans) So long as the policy of “lieing to infidels” is permissable in their culture (& it is) nothing like this should be even considered because non-Muslims (that would be you, non-Afghannies) have no way of knowing if they are being dealt with in good faith. And finaly this, why change the name ? What is the compelling public interest being served….there is none !