Some of the artists in downtown Santa Ana’s Artist Village are not happy about a new valet parking service that is being coordinated by the Downtown Santa Ana Restaurant Association and the City of Santa Ana.
I received a number of emails about this, but held off on writing about it until I had more information. I just received an email from Gabriela Lomeli, who works in the City of Santa Ana’s Redevelopment department, explaining what this valet parking program is all about:
The valet program is a 90-day pilot program that the city is launching with the intent to service all the businesses in and around the Artists Village.
The pilot program will require the temporary use of six meters on the east side of Broadway from 2nd to 3rd St. after 6pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. A secondary valet station will be on west side of Sycamore Street between 2nd and 3rd St. The city is receptive to your concerns and would like to work with you. I ask that you allow this first trial run weekend to be completed and provide me with comments/feedback after the weekend. This is a pilot program and we are open to making modifications in order to ensure a successful program that benefits all.
To clarify, in the downtown area you are allowed to park in a metered stall up to two hours. The Temporary No Parking from 4pm to 2am means you cannot begin your two hour parking at or after 4pm because that would conflict with the valet service to begin at 6pm. As an example, if someone parks at 3pm they have until 5pm to vacate the metered space.
Matthew Southgate, an artist who owns a gallery in the Santora Building, had this to say about the parking program, in an email he widely distributed early this morning:
This is an “Artist Village” Folks. That is the popularity of the place. If the City, or “Downtown Inc.” is intent on gentrifying the area, must they be so sloppy about it? If the idea is to upgrade the clientele of the area, it is not going to be achieved by depopulating the area first. That is not going to work! A Valet Parking station is not a bad idea in theory, but it all depends on how it is implemented. Tonight’s “trial run” was just a Deja Vu of the Independence Day celebration when all of the street parking on Broadway, 3rd and Sycamore was turned into a De-Militarized Zone! Non-sense!
$8.00 Valet Parking is not a security measure! It is a show off for Pimp Daddies, Wannabe High Rollers, C.E.O.s and Ignorant Tourists that want to”slum” but not really slum and get drunk! The loyal customers of the Artist Village don’t need or want any of this. They just want the alleys to be lit, a cop patrol car and security cameras in the vicinity. This is not “Vegas” and no artist, art patron, or Santa Ana resident wants it to be.
Alicia Rojas, another artist in the downtown area, responded thusly:
Maybe this is an issue that we artist can bring up in the next city council meeting. This pilot was provably approved by the city for the restaurants but the concerns of the artist at Santora where not even discussed..apparently the Guild and artist where not aware of the pilot or the restaurants plans for a new over the top valet parking. I am assuming that the concerns here also come from a lack of awareness with what is being planned because of the big shock wave that was heard all over Broadway last night.
I think that the issue here is that the artists feel they have been left out of the planning, which in truth they have. I don’t think this was willful on the part of the businesses and the City of Santa Ana, but it is an issue that must be dealt with.
My suggestion is that the City of Santa Ana form an Artist Village Advisory Commission, which will include representatives of all the stakeholders in the area. The Commission might include:
- Mayor Miguel Pulido, or a designated Commissioner to represent him
- Councilwoman Michele Martinez, whose ward includes downtown Santa Ana
- An artist from the Santora building
- An artist from the surrounding area, who is not in the Santora
- A small business owner, in the area, such as the folks at Calacas
- A representative of the CSUF Grand Central Art Center
- A City of Santa Ana representative, from Planning or Redevelopment
- And representatives from Downtown Inc and the Downtown Santa Ana Restaurant Association
This new Commission will be able to consider projects that affect everyone, so that no one will feel left out.
As for the valet issue, I see both sides of it. I think it may need some fine-tuning and it appears that this is a distinct possibility.
We do need visitors from outside the area. If the valet parking helps bring them in, all the better.
I like the suggestions offered by Daniella Southgate, in response to Matt’s initial email regarding the valet parking:
From an outsiders position, but as one who has studied current gentrification issues in LA, this is what I suggest;
1) CONCERNS- Identify and clarify the concerns so people can focus on the solutions asap. When giving a complaint, do not add to the issue by serving up negative emotion with it; forcing people to hunt for the concrete complaint amongst the insults.
2) SOLUTIONS- Once the concerns are clarified, focus on the possible solutions. In general who is heard is who is helpful, and who is helpful is who has solutions.
3) DON’T WHINE- If you take the time to complain and stir up the pot, have the consideration to come up with some good solutions presented with your complaint. (If the artists represent themselves as unprofessional and whiny, guess what kids, you will get steam rolled. No one likes a whiner.)
4) CONSIDER THE POSITIVE- Concerns and kinks aside, if I had a business in The Santora building, I would be happy a group of people, with expendable cash, where going to be delivered, with no cost to me, to my business’ front door and stuck there as a captive audience with time to kill. Most business owners would also consider this a positive, and the smart business owners would be working on how to maximize the opportunity.
5) MAXIMIZE THE OPPORTUNITY- If I were a Santora business owner I would be focusing on;
a) my entrance’s appearance and how to draw the captive audience in. Does it?
b) my merchandise and making sure I had some clearly marked items at a lower price point for quick purchases displayed in a way that can be easily seen at the front of the store.
c) Most of all, I would be focusing on getting an ATM machine inside the building, but not far from the valet, so all those people who need to pay for their parking, will go to my business, get some cash, and hopefully spend some money in my business. (Santora, be smart and conjure up a bargaining chip to get this to happen asap.)