Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

The Depot Affordable Housing in Santa Ana

Santa Ana’s Planning Commissioners were tasked this year with filling out disclosure forms when they talk to stakeholders about pending development projects. That is a reasonable request given how easy it would be for the Planning Commissioners to engage in monkey business.

The good news is almost all of the Planning Commissioners have acquiesced to this mandate. The bad news is that Phil Bacerra, the Planning Commissioner appointed by Santa Ana Councilman David Benavides, has reportedly refused to fill out the disclosure forms.

This came to light recently when Bacerra apparently worked both sides of the debate with regard to the upcoming Depot Affordable Housing units that will be located across from the Santa Ana Train Depot.

What a city insider told me was that Bacerra told the residents of the Logan Neighborhood that this Depot project was going to feature overpriced high-end retail stores, on its bottom floor.  But then he turned around and told residents of the high-end Santiago Lofts that the development was going to feature low-end businesses.

Planning Commissioner Phil Bacerra
Planning Commissioner Phil Bacerra

In the end a huge crowd showed up as the Planning Commission was set to vote on the development.  Bacerra was rebuffed as only one other Planning Commissioner, Bruce Bauer, joined him in voting against the affordable housing project.

Bacerra reportedly compared the Depot Project to Chicago’s notorious Cabrini-Green Projects, prompting the Chairman of the Santa Ana Planning Commission, Eric Alderete to say that Bacerra’s comments were racist.

Bacerra wasn’t the only one making racist comments at this meeting.  Many of those who showed up to complain said horrible things, moving Planning Commissioner Sean Mill to respond, as reported by the O.C. Register:

Others said the affordable-housing project would not bring “quality” tenants to the area.

That drew a response from Commissioner Sean Mill.

“They’re bringing a high-quality project that happens to be affordable housing,” he said. “I’m always disappointed when the discussion gets sideways and folks think that because it’s affordable housing, that the people that are going to live there are somehow less than the rest of us.”

Developer C&C Development has a track record of creating successful affordable-housing projects in the city, including the recently completed Terraces at Santiago, a 36-unit project in the 600 block of East Washington Avenue, a couple of blocks from the Depot at Santiago site.

“They don’t build apartment complexes. They build communities,” Mill said.

While it was pretty obvious that Bacerra had engineered the turnout at this meeting, he did not turn in any disclosure forms.  We might have to turn in a public records request to see if Bacerra used his city-provided email address to reach out to the residents.

You can read a very one-sided account of the Planning Commission meeting here and a hysterical letter to the City Council by one of the Santiago Lofts residents here.

Santa Ana is woefully short on affordable housing so I am personally glad to see this project moving forward.  And I am hearing great things about the retail component to the project, which will include operations that will help the residents to keep advancing up the socio-economic ladder.

We opposed Bacerra’s appointment to the Planning Commission because he had been a paid consultant to Downtown Inc., a non-profit that used a property assessment to fund marketing efforts in Downtown Santa Ana.  Bacerra personally advanced a crazy plan to allow bars to stay open to 4 am.  Councilman Benavides was the only Council Member to support that nutty scheme, which failed.

Benavides ran for Mayor of Santa Ana, unsuccessfully, in 2012 on a platform that included a call for more transparency.  Shouldn’t his Planning Commissioner, Bacerra, support that call for transparency by filling out his disclosure forms?

By Editor

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

25 thoughts on “Rogue Planning Commissioner refuses to fill out disclosure forms?”
  1. Is this the same guy (with the 1990’s Goatee” that used to come to the drinking liberally and other cocktail party’s with his side kick and never pay????

    I remember once, these two globbed on to at least six differnt groups ordering up a cocktail or TWO and sliding away. This happened repeatedly until someone, I can’t remember who called them out and publically humiliated them.

    Sounds like the gravy train continues for these guys!

  2. Yeah. thats the guy! Broke Phil we used to call him. Don’t know whatever happened to his sidekick, I heard he too had money problems, ran up a bar bill and stopped blogging.

    But, on topic. Wasn’t there a disscussion about THIS VERY issue at Phil’s appointment. Michele opposed it and went bat-shit. Pulido being the adult in the room said he’d support phil and take hima at his word that he would complete ALL disclosures. I am certain this is on video. Admin, should catch a snippit and post it.

    If after nearly a year Phil Baccerra, who is closely alligned with Benavidedes EX-Girlfriend (I know…. which one) whom belongs to the same USC cult, he has failed to comply, than he should face removal. DON’T DEBATE THE DEVELOPMENT. Under SUNSHINE, he needs to RELEASE THE FORM OR WALK AWAY.

    1. Are you talking about C.G., Carpetbagger? Didn’t the LibOC clear this all up and debunk it?

  3. The lobbying efforts by Commissioner Bacerra did not end with the Planning Commission vote. He has been contacting people via phone and email trying to rally them to oppose the project when it comes before the city council.

    I have seen at least one email directed to a neighborhood leader in which the Commissioner discuss commission business and insinuates that he originally had the votes to kill the project.

    The email sure makes a case for a Brown Act violation. How would he know he had the votes unless he violated the Brown Act? I hope there are calls for an investigation into this questionable behavior.

  4. Count Chocula is at it again! He is such a loser I can’t stop laughing. I heard through the grapevine (rumors) that he might be Janet Nguyen’s baby daddy.

  5. Why won’t Phil complete the disclosure form?

    Well one reason is because it will read like who’s who of Downtown operators, developers and of course Benavides’ contribuors and supporters.
    Unable to continue shaking down people himself, David found a good straw man in Bacerra.

  6. All of you have missed the point completely. Affordable housing is supposed to be mixed WITHIN a project, not segregated into one apt complex. It is also supposed to be placed throughout the city, not all in one neighborhood. The City of Santa And loaned C&C three million dollars to buy the land for the Depot apartments. Now C&C will use our tax dollars to build the project, then they will make money on the rentals. How does that sound?

    If this project miraculously does not get approved, how will the City get repaid on the three million dollar loan?

    Unfortunately there were several speakers who did not understand the point of the opposition, and the ones who did understand, were ignored by the Planning Commissioners. You all are drinking the kool-aide that C&C and their financiers want you to drink. The residents of Logan and Santiago Lofts ARE NOT OPPOSED to affordable housing, they already have over 100 new affordable units in the neighborhood, and there was no opposition to it. This particular site for the new Depot project was promised to be retail and services.

    Sean Mills is attempting to make the residents in the Lofts and Logan to be elitists. What he doesn’t tell you is he drinks his own kool-aide, believing he is the knight in shining armor helping the poor, when really he is segregating lower income earners.

    Tell me why the the City approved a new 182 unit luxury apt complex at Park Place and they did not require any of the units to be affordable? In fact they allowed the builder to donate two million towards affordable housing, but to be built somewhere else. Gosh, I guess you don’t want lower income earners in your luxury apartments now do you?

      1. What really looks bad is a City council that loans a developer three million dollars to buy the land to build affordable apartments that the developer ultimately makes money on. Do a record search, you will find the loan. What a sweet deal for C&C .

          1. Mr. Editor you have a very narrow perspective. It’s dirty politics no matter what the issue.

          2. I know all these people personally and am a former Redevelopment Commissioner. Bacerra’s mentor is the corrupt Republican lobbyist Curt Pringle. Need I say more?

  7. Maybe Phil is hoping for a liquor store or bar. Then he would be on EZ Street.

  8. Oh, and one final fact, Bacerra did not engineer the turn out for the meeting at all.The residents of Logan and Santiago Lofts have been in opposition to this project since the first meeting held by C&C. Most of the residents don’t even know who he is.

    Yes, let’s use the Sunshine ordinance to get the facts and the TRUTH out about where the money is coming from. Like where the affordable housing credits were used, what budget the City used to loan C&C three million, total number of affordable housing units in the city, and where exactly are they, and why are we not building affordable units within upscale projects?

    1. Well how can you prove that Bacerra wasn’t involved when he refuses to file his disclosure forms? Where is the transparency in that?

      1. I agree completely, but there hasn’t been transparency since the purchase of the land. No one wants to talk about the elephant. I don’t know what Bacera’s agenda is, we have never met with him.

  9. Sounds to me like you are letting your feelings towards an individual blind you to the bigger picture. Either that or you are using him as a diversionary tactic. Hmmmm?

        1. All the other commissioners turned in their disclosure forms to the city clerk. Bacerra has refused to do so. And Benavides has allowed him to flaunt transparency.

  10. So much for the Sunshine Ordinance and the transparency David Benevides campaigned on…If his own Planning Commissioner won’t adhere to the calls for open government then all his talk supporting the Sunshine Ordinance is just that, talk.

    Typical do as I say, not as I do hypocrisy from our elected officials. I hope voters remember this the next time Benevides asks for our vote. He could show he means business if he dumps Bacerra. If he won’t all his talk about open government and Sunshine rings hollow.

    I had hopes for Benevides and actually believed he was an alternative to Pulido. I voted for him for Mayor two years ago. I won’t make that mistake again.

  11. Loganista,

    Don’t be silly. Those rules weren’t for US. Just those political opponents we don’t like.

  12. Low income housing bring low income, low class people! Oh, why that’s the majority of the people in Santa Ana. They commit the crimes, they join the gangs, they are in the United States illegally. Property values will decline at just the whisper of low income housing to be built next to the lofts! Those that own units at the Santiago Street Lofts should be pissed off! You would not want this built across the street from you house! Guarantee it! Low=low!

    1. You fit right in with Commissioner Bacerra and the loft owners Brad. Thanks for sharing your ignorance with us. Now move back to south county and take the loft bigots with you.

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