Wed. Sep 28th, 2022

Photo: Karen X. Fritsche/KPCC



So you missed Larry Mantle’s “Santa Ana Gentrification Wars” radio show, that taped on Tuesday, March 29, at Libreria Martinez?  Not to worry.  Click here to hear the show, which was part of Mantle’s Air Talk program.

Guests included:

  • Eric Altman, Executive Director of OCCORD, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, a labor-funded non-profit organization that is headed up by two white male executives.
  • Michele Martinez, Santa Ana City Councilwoman – Ward 2; Human Resources and Education Foundation Director
  • Carlos Bustamante, Santa Ana Councilman – Ward 3; Director of Administration at Orange County Public Works
  • Carolina Sarmiento, member of the Centro Cultural de Mexico, a longtime Santa Ana nonprofit that figures into the gentrification game
  • Art Lomeli, a dentist who lives in Orange Park Acres and who heads up the Santa Ana Coalition for Better Government

Reviews were mixed.  Apparently little was accomplished on this show.

The Voice of OC blog provided a recap, which indicated that a lot of the discussion on the show was about the failed attempt to force a so-called “Community Benefit Agreement” on the Station District redevelopment project, which was going to include affordable housing but was derailed by a lawsuit.

These “Community Benefit Agreements” are nothing more than extortion.  They are attempts by folks who do not own property to force their will on developers.  They usually fail as developers and city governments have no reason to sign on to their demands, which do not respect property rights.

Furthermore, these agreements are advanced by non-elected busy-bodies who have no mandate and really should have no say in what happens in our community.  We already have an elected City Council.  It is their job, along with our City Planning Commission and our Planning Department, to resolve these issues.

Here is what our reader Cook had to say about the program: “The book store was packed, must have been more than the 100 people limit.  Nothing ground breaking happened, but there was a lot of exchanging ideas and talking points.”

And here is what our reader Junior had to say about it: “There were no NEW ideas – it was regurgitated talking points – from all sides.”

What did other folks think?  Well, the comments left on Mantle’s blog are interesting, to wit:

From David: Thanks again for hosting such a great event. I was fortunately to be part of the crowd when AirTalk was being recorded.

A believe that the core question was not answered directly and that was whether these businesses are displacing the natives in the Downtown Santa Ana area. Granted the redevelopment is supposedly be bringing in affordable housing but economically, how many natives can afford housing even when it’s affordable?

When Larry Mantle had asked as to whether they couldn’t compare this project to other cities such as Santa Monica, I think a better example would have been a local city, such as Westminster.

Asian Americans have a strong community in the City of Westminster and have a strong ties to the local businesses in the area. There has been development projects in Westminster as well but they are definitely helping the community by allowing more local businesses to be developed without having to worry for big corporations. I don’t see why Santa Ana can’t follow this business plan.

From Delores: As a Heinz 57 mutt, I love the culture here in Santa Ana. I think most Anglos do. Sadly last night it sounded like Carolina was an apologist for her family’s weath and for living in Floral Park. She has the luxury of being a rich kid who never purchases in downtown and yet cries foul for the community. The truth is, the 80,000 people who live in the sphere of influence of downtown do not shop downtown they head to Target, WalMart and Main Place. Downtown no longer has the 2nd place tax base that Art referenced. That was 7 years ago. As Carlos stated; the whites didn’t want the browns in the 70’s and the browns do not want the whites in 2011. It wasn’t right then, and it’s not right now! Change is afoot. Not unlike Borders, it is survival of the fittest. If you offer good service, value and quality; bridal shop, jewelry store, clothing store, tax preparation, etc., you have nothing to worry about. If your business is being pushed out by the worldwide web (travel, CD’s, movies) you should change your product. The color of downtown is not red, yellow, black, brown or white; it is green Carolina. If it’s not green, who will pay for what you ask for? Who will pay for affordable housing, green space, community centers, healthcare, and on and on????? Developers aren’t standing in line waiting to get a project in Santa Ana. It’s the contrary, the City is courting these developers to please take a look at Santa Ana.

From Holly: As a former longtime resident, I have seen the city of Santa Ana persistently navigate major redevelopment projects over the last 25 years. I’m thinking of the Bristol Corridor Project, the Delhi Community Center Redevelopment and all of the Santa Ana Schools that have been built on former business locations throughout Santa Ana. There were many of these same concerns expressed very actively & effectively from the community then, too and the City heard them and incorporated their concerns. The desire for accessible shopping and parks, open space, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods and a good community center are not unique to just Ward 2 in Santa Ana. Which leads me to believe that perhaps, in these very trying economic times – that the community’s desire for the labor to be ‘only from Santa Ana’ and that it be ‘Union’ only, is one of the true sticking points. To which I would say: only the attorneys for and against the lawsuit will benefit. The community of Ward 2 of Santa Ana will continue to struggle and the Station Area redevelopment project will languish, not improving the situation for anyone. Anyone except the attorneys on both sides of the pending lawsuit, that is.

From Michael: Perhaps the close minded people who want to fight something thing that is met for the betterment of all the community, had better step back and think a little. Breaking the law has consequences, regardless of peoples national origin, race or creed. I was appaled at the comment of one Hispanic woman who said what about the undocumented people who don’t have a voice in this matter. Well the truth is they shouldn’t have any voice period. Break the laws of our country and pay the price without complaining. The second issue is what is called the right of imminant domain. Just remember the courts have always upheld this issue and if people do not want to move forward with a community betterment project, this law can be imposed on them. I am a native of Los Angeles and have watched as the once great and beautiful city of Santa Ana going down to where it has become like a third world city. I congratulate the city council in their vision to bring Santa Ana back to its rightful place in So Cal. It is a total waste of money and time as well as increases a projects cost immensily to bring a lawsuit and with the state of our economy, is there money to waste? I think not. The council and developer get my vote.

By Editor

Art Pedroza started Orange County's first political blog, the Orange Juice, back in 2003. He now publishes the top civic blog in Orange County - New Santa Ana, plus other blogs including New Anaheim, New Fullerton and the Irvine News Blog, as well as the OC Politics Blog.

One thought on “Recap of Larry Mantle’s “Santa Ana Gentrification Wars” radio show on KPCC”
  1. O.k. there Mr. “non-elected busy body” he,he. Still love you Pedroza. The set up was false. It should not be Mexican Cultural Center debating the issue. Carolina has huge potential. I would like to see her take on the city from the view point of a Santa Ana business owner or Santa Ana concerned citizen not as a concerned citizen of international immigration rights. Argue that debate some other time.

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