Gay Community In Sacramento Pushing For Lavender Heights To Become Official District

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There is a push in midtown Sacramento to create a new district honoring the gay community and its businesses. For decades it’s been known as Lavender Heights, but now community activists hope city leaders will officially recognize this midtown community’s economic potential.

A lot of people consider it the Castro District of the Central Valley. But they want to make the area’s nickname its official name.

“Everyone calls it Lavender Heights, so why not just make it official?” said Donald Bentz, Sacramento LGBT Community Center’s executive director.

Tucked away in the heart of midtown, the center is surrounded by businesses that cater to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender clientele.

“I think it’s very important for communities to recognize its history,” said Bentz.

He and other community activists want city leaders to officially recognize their community as Lavender Heights. They want the classification to include custom-made city street signs, rainbow-colored crosswalks and flags.

City leaders are discussing who’s going to pay for the signage, if approved. Organizers say the upgrades would help draw tourism dollars to Sacramento, similar to what’s happening in San Francisco’s Castro District.

“It’s a no-brainer if you ask me,” said Ian Levin, a spokesman for the Midtown Business Association.

Levin believes the economic influence will spread beyond Lavender Heights.

“It’s not just the gay community,” said Levin. “It’s a vibrant community with little districts, and the Lavender Heights is major component to this part of the district.”

“As far as the economic impact, that impact is already here,” said Bentz.

Community leaders here say many LGBT businesses are already thriving. They argue an official recognition will keep that success growing for generation to come.

“It’s just continuing in its own natural evolution to keep going up,” said Bentz.

Lavender Heights’ official designation is just in the discussion stages; however, Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents the district, says he supports the idea.

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