Santa Ana has a housing crisis but one property owner/developer has found that the problem just might be Santa Ana’s Planning and Building Department.
The developer and his colleagues embarked on a well-intentioned 9 unit apartment rehabilitation project aimed at providing much-needed housing and contributing a few months ago. They have since encountered a series of baffling and inexplicable hurdles courtesy of the very department that is meant to facilitate such progress.
Their ordeal began when a devastating building fire engulfed their project site, posing a genuine threat to the safety and well-being of the surrounding neighborhood.
Shockingly they were forced to grapple with this disaster for months due to the unexplained delay in permit issuance from the Santa Ana City Building and Planning Department. This inaction endangered the community, leaving the developer bewildered and frustrated at the apparent lack of urgency.
The developer was then arbitrarily halted in their tracks by the same city department, which claimed that their construction was non-compliant with neighborhood review requirements.
The developer insists that they were simply adhering to the building plans that had been officially and fully approved by the very same City Planning and Building department.
The department claimed they had now conveniently “forgotten” to send the developer’s plans for an extra layer of review. This bureaucratic blunder cost the developer precious time, energy, and resources, resulting in a protracted delay that has transformed their construction site into a hotspot for criminal activity and homelessness.
The city is now halting the development for about four more months while they await the Historic Resources Commission to review the removal of unnecessary stairs in the backyard that the city had already fully approved.
This particular delay alone has cost the developer and his brother six figures in carrying costs and lost income, plus future litigation costs. They are a small family business and they are now three years into a simple 9 unit renovation due to the city’s actions.
The Santa Ana City Building and Planning Department’s incompetence and lack of accountability are directly harming the local housing supply and deterring potential business and development in our community.
Unfortunately these are not isolated incidents; they reflect a systemic problem that requires public scrutiny and a call for reform. Many other developers, both large and small, have shared similar frustrations over the years.
The housing shortage crisis is deepening due to these avoidable delays, and potential businesses and investors are being discouraged from participating in our city’s growth due to the lack of transparency and predictability in the approval process.
The Santa Ana City Council and our Mayor need to address these development issues that have hindered our progress and undermined the safety and growth of our community. The development community won’t wait for progress in Santa Ana- they will just take their money elsewhere!