Controversy is brewing in a California city over a proposal that would require businesses to post signs in English.

The Monterey Park City Council voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to the new rule, which would mandate that businesses have at least one sign in the "modern Latin alphabet" — meaning English letters, Los Angeles TV station KTLA reported.

The majority of the population is Asian, accounting for about 70 percent of its residents.

But police and fire officials argue it would be easier to navigate in an emergency if businesses had at least one sign in English, instead of Chinese characters.

That is especially the case at night, when it is more difficult to read address numbers, they said.

Those who favor the idea say it would improve the overall community appearance, promote economic development, enhance traffic safety and help with emergency services.

But some business owners say it should be their right to post only signs in Chinese, which is the primary language of their customers.

They also point out that police and the fire department are able to find addresses in residential neighborhoods, where there are no signs.

A final vote by the city council on the matter was scheduled for Aug. 7.