In a city with a terrible lack of park space, Santiago Park is a veritable oasis. The park is located in north Santa Ana, within easy walking distance of the MainPlace Mall. The new CityPlace shopping center is located right across the street.
I like to walk my dog there, along the trail on the north side of the park. I was doing that just yesterday, in the morning, when we came across two men who were loitering on either side of the trail. As I passed them I turned around and took a picture of them with my Blackberry phone. Then I called the Santa Ana Police Department.
You can see the picture of the two men above. I could not discern what they were up to. They were just lurking there. Below, in the riverbed, another guy was loitering on a bike. And it got worse.
I took my dog over the foot bridge on the east side of the park and we doubled back. As we did so we spotted another guy, this time standing in the brush. Waiting. For Lord knows what. I took his picture too.
My dog and I also walked along a dirt path along the riverbed, on the south side, and spotted a pair of vinyl gloves and a pair of pants hanging in the shrubs. We saw another pair of the gloves on the north trail. These are the sort of gloves used by nurses. See the pictures below.
And yet another guy was lurking by the cabin on the west side, near the playground.
Why are all these men loitering in Santiago Park?
The police responded within twenty minutes. A park ranger showed up and I spoke to him. He said that he routinely chases men out of the park along the trails and also under the overpass and the aforementioned bridge, and in the bathrooms alongside the tennis court. The officer told me that men come to the park to hook up – and to have sex.
I went back to the park the same day, at dusk. The park closes at dark, so I didn’t go in, but I walked around the park. Found many instances of graffiti and trash.
Ironically, graffiti in Santa Ana’s Artist Village is always covered up by the City of Santa Ana, right away. But guess what? The founder of the Artists Village, Don Cribb, lives in the Park Santiago Neighborhood – and he is on a city committee that is examining ways to improve Santiago Park!
I witnessed another strange incident in my evening visit to the park. A car pulled into the park entrance on Main St., as the barricade was left open. A young lady walked up the sidewalk to the car, and got in. The car zoomed off and got on the 5 Freeway, due north on the carpool lane. Is the park being used by johns who are meeting prostitutes there? Hard to say, but they could have met at a number of shopping centers. Instead they met at a dark park.
Sure enough, a cop came by later, but too late to catch them.
I will say this – our police department is very responsive and they are trying to police the park. It just isn’t working out the rest of the time, when the cops aren’t there.
A new movie just came out called the “Lovely Bones.” In it a family grieves for their fourteen year old daughter, who was killed by a perverted neighbor. How soon before we find some lovely bones at Santiago Park? Already one transient killed another, about a year and a half ago. The killer was never found.
Here are a few more of the pictures I took yesterday:
Landscapers were picking up trash at Santiago Park, but a lot more trash lay on the trails and in the brush
Why are there discarded vinyl gloves at the park?
Graffiti near the Main St. entrance to the park
Evidence of homeless occupants at the park
More graffiti near the park
Yep, shopping carts and more graffiti
This is where police say that men are often found hooking up at Santiago Park. The trail leads under Main St. to the Discovery Science Center