Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

Downtown Santa Ana

Santa Ana’s downtown is a ghost town at night, but should it be?

Have you visited downtown Brea, Fullerton or Huntington Beach recently?  All three of those areas are absolutely jam-packed most evenings.  Why is Santa Ana’s downtown so moribund by comparison?



I visited the Art Walk at the Artists Village last night and it was great to see folks actually visiting our downtown.  But I also observed them leaving in droves fairly quickly.

How can we keep them around – and get them to spend more money on our local vendors?

This weekend the Orange Street Fair is racking them in by the thousands – but we could be doing that every Saturday night!

Brea used redevelopment money to destroy much of their old downtown.  The result is nice but they won’t be reaping the benefit of their increased tax revenue for years.  Fullerton adopted more flexible regulations allowing new bars and restaurants to thrive.  The result has been a lot of business, but a lot of police activity too.  Huntington Beach’s Main Street benefits from the local beach environment and a lot of tourism.

So what about Santa Ana?

Santa Ana's Yost Theater

My co-blogger Sean Mill and I toured the Artists Village last night then walked over to the Yost Theater and to the surrounding Fiesta Marketplace area.  There were a few businesses open but many were closed.  But we saw so much potential!

Teatro Fiesta, Santa Ana

I have already proposed an Olvera Street type attraction – and after last night I believe even more firmly that 4th Street could serve as the backbone of such an enterprise.  We could call it “Calle Quatro” and close off 4th St. on Saturday nights, between Spurgeon and Main St.  The resulting area could be populated with street entertainers, street taco stands, and vendors selling authentic Mexican and other Latin American merchandise.

Santa Ana boxing

And how about some live music?  Or boxing exhibitions, courtesy of our local youth boxing clubs?  Or maybe even live Lucha Libre?

Ritmo Latino in downtown Santa Ana

How about mariachis strolling the street?  Or a mariachi contest?  Or a salsa band and dancing in the street?

Funny shirts abound at Calacas in Santa Ana

Funny shirts abound at Calacas in Santa Ana

How about debuting young Latino comedians?  It would be easy to erect temporary stages to host all of this.

To accomplish this, the merchants in our downtown area need to come together.  This needs to be their project, not the City’s.  We don’t need redevelopment money – just hard work and initative.

Jarritos Hummer showed up at Calacas in Santa Ana

The Jarritos company would love to get involved with Calle Quatro!

And what about marketing?  Are you kidding?  It would be EASY to get radio stations involved, and maybe T.V. stations too!

Cantera, in Santa Ana

Cantera, in downtown Santa Ana, offers unique Latino-flavored art

Why go to Huntington Beach for margaritas when you can go to Santa Ana instead – and enjoy a more authentic atmosphere?

We will need help from the City of Santa Ana.  How about a reduced business license fee for this area?  And maybe making it easier for new bars and restaurants to locate here?

In my vision, this area would add to, not detract from the Artists Village.  In fact native artisans would be a big part of Calle Quatro!

The sky is the limit for Calle Quatro – what are we waiting for?

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

10 thoughts on “How can we revive Santa Ana’s downtown?”
  1. I commend you for your positive and encouraging vision. Naturally, not everyone will agree on an exclusive Latino theme for downtown Santa Ana. The point is, however, you are gazing right over the undesirable landscape and you see there’s potential just over the horizon. There will be ten naysayers to each believer, but keep it alive. It can certainly happen.

  2. I agree that santa ana needs more buisness however the all latin theme kinda makes you wonder if your in the united states anymore.

  3. #2,

    I understand how you feel. However, the downtown area now features the Artists Village, so the area isn’t exactly homogeneous.

    And the area includes many cultural institutions that are not Latino-oriented.

    I would however LOVE to see a Vietnamese Pho restaurant open up in the downtown area. Wouldn’t that be great?

    The Orange Street Fair does great business every year because folks LIKE diversity. We ought to embrace that ethic in Santa Ana too…

  4. how about spending money on Santa Ana that will help everyone. McFadden, from Main to Standard hasn’t had any road repair in 25 years. Madison Elementry has less play ground area now than it did when I went there in 1959 to 67. help the masses not just a few privelaged.down town is looking better but to get there??????

  5. #2 most likely would like to close down lil saigons, China towns, lil Italies and so on across the country. Santa Ana already burned down its China Town and ran out it inhabitants to live in Santiago Creek. There has to be a common ground where we can all benefit. By the way, all the stores on 4th east of Main have been predominately latino for 100 years. 4th Street Latinos have helped the cities economy by keeping its doors open while other businesses left in the 1980s.

  6. I think that Santa Ana will slowly but surely gain more attention now that places like The Crosby, Proof and Memphis has opened up. I think it would be great to see a multi-cultural restaurant open up down Broadway that serves a mix of Mexican, Cambodian, and Vietnamese dishes because this city is heavily populated with these cultures. It’ll be great to see this area turn into a town where it embraces every ethnicity and promotes diversity.

  7. Downtown Santa Ana has been trying to become more vibrant for over 10 years now, but to no effect. The arts district is barely happening. I have even heard that many artists are leaving the area due to their art not being sold. In the early 90s the city was trying to get gay people to move in as they are good at revitalizing cities but that didnt even work. The bottom line is that the downtown area has an element of the ghetto. The streets are bad, there are people just hanging out their apartments doing nothing. Downtown needs some hip night clubs but the city has a thing against night clubs. One of those incredible old theaters could be turned into a venue for live music. How anout a funky used bookstore. I also agree that it should be more diversified. Now before everyone says this is a racist statement i will let u know that i am latin. However i love going to places that are diverse, especially in the area of food. How awesome it would be to go to the downtown area and have the choices of eating indian food or chinese food or mexican food or brazillian food. Bottom line is, yes the area has allot of potential, but there needs to be allot of work in the area and the city has to be more open minded about the nightclub thing. I dont know what they are afraid of. It cant get any worse than it is right now.

  8. Another thing i wanted to add is about the Olvera street idea. There already is an Olvera street type attraction and its called…Olvera street. Just take metrolink about 45 minutes north and, bam, your there. Santa Anas downtown needs to be something more original and unique than that. People also need to feel safe there and i know that when i have been there alone at night i dont feel entirely safe.

  9. I wonder if there is some kind of organization that is trying to rejuvenate/reinvent downtown. I would volunteer, downtown, and the city as a whole has so much potential. But it feels as if the majority of the residents don’t care. Is it because they’re too busy trying to make ends meat or they just don’t care, i don’t know. It’s nice that that there are many stores catering to tradition, for example, quinceanera, but it needs to diversify. It would be nice to have wider sidewalks for outdoor cafes, besides artist’s village. And the city should lighten up on allowing downtown to have a nightlife.

    1. Cheo,

      There is an organization called Downtown Inc. but they don’t appear to have a website.

      I agree with your ideas. Our city is way too anal about nightlife. It has really hurt our downtown…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Verified by MonsterInsights