OCEANSIDE — City Council unanimously approved renaming a 1-mile stretch of Mesa Drive the Martin Luther King Jr. Corridor Feb. 1, but several speakers objected and said renaming a section of the city street was not enough to commemorate Dr. King.“We need a high-profile area,” Willie Little, an Oceanside resident, said. “Like renaming (State Route) 78 Dr. King Expressway.”
“I don’t think this would be a way of honoring someone of that stature,” Gwen Sanders, an Oceanside resident, said. “It’s an insult to his memory to do something that small.”
“We needed to do more,” Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said. “Mayor Wood said he hoped it would be the bridge over the harbor. He thought it would be bigger. So did I.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School are located on the mile of Mesa Drive that will be renamed.
There is also a series of commemorative signs on the road that illustrate significant strides made toward achieving civil rights.
Last year the NAACP of North County celebrated Black History Month by walking down Mesa Drive past the signs. Members noticed the commemorative signs placed there 12 years ago were weathered and two signs were missing.
A decision was made by the NAACP to raise funds to refurbish the signs and request that the corridor be renamed.
Gerald Hampton, NAACP of North County secretary, said that it is not an either/or proposal that excludes something else from being named to honor Dr. King in the future.
“Why would you not do the project?” Hampton asked. “I didn’t expect any kind of opposition.”
Councilmen Gary Felien and Jack Feller said the street is highly trafficked because of the park and school.
“There are 400 to 500 kids there during football season,” Feller said.
“It’s absolutely a corridor.”
Others said renaming the corridor limits the recognition of King to one area of the city.
“I don’t think it adds to what’s already is in the same area,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez added that she would like to work with the NAACP to find a way to honor King that is more significant and bring that idea to the next council meeting.