Fri. May 24th, 2024
David Benavides and Phil Bacerra
David Benavides and Phil Bacerra


Agenda Item 13C is on tomorrow night’s Santa Ana City Council agenda, regarding the recommended reappointment of Phil Bacerra to the Ward 4 seat on the Santa Ana Planning Commission.  Bacerra’s reappointment, which is being brought forward by Councilman David Benavides, was voted down by a 4-3 vote of the city council last December.  Questions regarding Bacerra’s failing to properly disclose ex-parte communications were at the center of that debate.

However it is comments made by Bacerra on the dais during the May 12, 2014 public hearing on an affordable housing development called the “Depot at Santiago, that is being built by award-winning developer C&C Development, that raises questions as to why the council would agree to support Bacerra’s reappointment now.  In the audio from the May 12th meeting Bacerra can be heard comparing the proposed development to the notorious Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago.


Cabrini-Green housing project was home to an overwhelmingly low income African-American community and unlike most of Chicago’s public housing developments it was situated next to an affluent section of the city.  According to the Wikipedia page, “The poverty-stricken projects were actually constructed at the meeting point of Chicago’s two wealthiest neighborhoods, Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast. Less than a mile to the east sat Michigan Avenue with its high-end shopping and expensive housing.”

This comparison by Bacerra can hardly be by chance given that the Depot at Santiago is located directly across from the much more affluent Santiago Lofts and that many of the residents of those lofts expressed concerns that the C&C project would not attract “quality” tenants to the area.  It is quite obvious that Bacerra was using this inflammatory comparison in an effort to fan the flames of intolerance and bigotry.  Using the Cabrini-Green analogy was clearly done by Bacerra to play on the fears of the mostly white and generally more affluent opponents of the Depot at Santiago.

Willie Horton Ad

This was Bacerra’s version of the Willie Horton ad.  (In 1986, a convicted felon named Willie Horton — who was serving a life sentence for murder — was released from a Massachusetts prison on a weekend furlough program, during which time he escaped and raped a woman. Then-governor Michael Dukakis had supported the prison furlough program, and when he ran for President in 1988, his opponent, George H. W. Bush, used that to his advantage. The “Revolving Door” ad never mentions Horton by name, but the connection was clear and the ad received considerable news coverage. Source: Time Magazine)

David Benavides and Lupe Moreno
David Benavides and Minuteman Lupe Moreno

Not surprisingly Bacerra’s supporters are working the phones and email contacting councilmembers urging his reappointment.  Many in this group of supporters have a history of racial insensitivity and bigotry themselves – and of course who can forget Councilman Benavides’s sad effort to honor members of the Minutemen at a city council meeting a couple of years ago.

Only 1.5% of Santa Ana residents are of African-American descent today but that does not mean that the city council should just ignore this racist comment directed at them and intended to fan the flames of fear and intolerance in regards to all low-income minority communities.

Southwest Community Center

And history tells us that “The African American community in Santa Ana can be traced back to the 1900’s. The 1920’s brought upon a steady growth within the community. However, between 1950 and 1970 there was an exponential growth of blacks into Santa Ana, which ultimately comprised of two-thirds of Orange County’s African American population,” as we reported in a recent post.

The African American community has been so important in our city that our Mayor and City Council honored our African American leaders on Feb. 3, as we reported here.

David Benavides and his friends

Please call Councilman Benavides at (714) 647-6900 or (714) 651-4380 or email him at and let him know that this is unacceptable and that Commissioner Bacerra owes the African-American community and all those in other low income communities an apology.  Remind Benavides that he replaced our city’s last African-American City Councilwoman – Alberta Christy (see picture above).  He owes it to her to do something about Bacerra!

By Editor

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

31 thoughts on “Why is Benavides ignoring a racist comment by one of his Commissioners?”
  1. Not shocked to hear such callous remarks about the poor coming from Bacerra. Don’t forget that he and Thomas Gordon were behind taking a photo mocking a homeless woman here in Santa Ana:

    The only people they hate more than blacks, Latinos and Asian are the poor.

    Shame on the city council for putting their stamp of approval on this bigotry.

  2. Have you informed the local NAACP about this? The African-American community should not sit quietly by while an appointed city official uses coded racism to slander affordable housing in Santa Ana.

    Bacerra’s use of buzzwords like “Cabrini-Greens” in the course of his official duties is despicable and undignified. While he and his supporters will plead ignorance and claim this was not intended to further racism, African-American’s have seen this type of hate speech before and will not be fooled.

    Code language and buzzwords have replaced burning crosses and white sheets in the racist assaults on the African-American community.

  3. I get that Becerra is your Classic White Suburban NIMBY, but he should remember that this city is largely NOT white even though he and his buddies are. He should debate the issues and stay clear of racist & ill-informed comments or move back to Garden Grove.

    1. Our city council hasn’t figured out that the loud mouthed group that make up Bacerra’s cheerleaders are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things in Santa Ana. They continue to capitulate to these bigots and try to appease them at every turn. Sadly, in doing so, they ignore the wants of most city residents.

  4. The same cast of characters that defended disgraced Councilmember Carlos Bustamante are the same people in Phil Bacerra’s corner. This group of elitests are quick to dismiss racist comments or sexual assault allegations as long as you support their vision of a more affluent and Anglo Santa Ana.

    Having Bacerra on the Planning Commission gives a voice to the bigots and racists that despise the Latino immigrants and the low income families that make up the majority of Santa Ana residents.

    For years they have voiced opposition to schools, affordable housing and other projects that improve the quality of life for the low income immigrant families in Santa Ana. This is a battle for the soul of our community and we cannot allow these devils to prevail.

  5. “.. comparing the proposed development to the notorious Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago.”

    You admit yourself that the Chicago development is “notorious.” To say that this is a racist comment is laughable. Perhaps it is not a fair comparison – I don’t know enough about either development to make that judgment.

    How do the folks in Logan neighborhood feel about this particular development? Have you talked to Sam or Joe A.?

    1. “How do the folks in the Logan Neighborhood feel about this particular development? Have you talked to Sam or Joe A.?”

      With all due respect in regards to the topic at hand it is irrelevant how any of these folks feel about the project. They are not appointed officials of the city and thus are not held to the same standards as Commissioner Bacerra.

      It was Bacerra who made inflammatory statements to play on the fears of the more affluent white residents while in his official capacity as a Planning Commissioner. His comments weren’t made in private or on a blog, they were made on the dais.

      1. It is relevant – perhaps the residents of the adjacent neighborhood (Logan) have an opinion on this project – positive or negative – as Bacerra’s comment is apparently negative on this project. And that is fair – it’s his opinion and his vote.

      2. “It was Bacerra who made inflammatory statements ..”

        Boo – hoo. I wouldn’t call them inflammatory statements – I would call them perfectly legitimate descriptive statements.

        You guys are getting really desperate.

        1. Bacerra was appointed by Benavides, who doesn’t represent the Logan area. If the residents had an issue they needed to talk to Michele Martinez’ Commissioner.

          1. Male bovine excrement -!!! All SA citizens vote for every council member.

          2. You know full well that they have to live in the Ward they run for. Their first priority is the residents in their Ward.

          3. If the council person for the Ward in which I live was Tinajero or Sarmiento I certainly wouldn’t deal with those 2 creeps. Common sense says you deal with who you vote for and with whom you feel you would get the best response from.

        2. Seamus,

          I’ll assume you are a white male and perhaps that is why you don’t take offense to the coded and racially tinged statement by Bacerra.

          I’m sure if you were a person of color you would feel much differently.

        3. Perhaps you have forgotten how you had a cow when a Commissioner called you a Nimby and you accused him of making inflammatory statements.

          1. Bacerra did not single out a Santa Ana resident for ridicule as SA Commissioner Sean Mill did to me.

          2. No he ridiculed all minorities and people of low income. And the damage has been done. Bacerra most likely will never again serve in a city commission in Santa Ana.

            As for Mill, he was correct in his assertion. You are indeed a NImby.

          3. BS – this is much ado about nothing – it will amount to nothing.

          4. Are you kidding me? This guy thinks being called a nimby is inflammatory but using coded racist speak isn’t?

            If he believes that fanning the flames of racism as a public official during a public hearing is much ado about nothing, there is no point in trying to have a logical debate with him.

            Did he feel the same way about Claudia Alvarez? If so, at least he would be showing some consistency.

  6. Comparing public housing with affordable housing is just wrong. They arent similar at all and he knows it. Im sure the folks at the Kennedy Commission and Human Relations Commission must wonder how a Neanderthal like this landed on the commission.

    1. Not “wrong” – possibly not an accurate comparison – but not “wrong.”

      It cracks me up how some people pretend to know what is in others hearts & minds – thought police go away.

      1. No “wrong” is the correct word to use. I would hope that people appointed to the Planning Commission would at least be intelligent enough to know the difference between “public” and “affordable” housing.

        Perhaps we are giving Bacerra too much credit and in reality he is just an idiot that doesn’t know any better. In either case he is not fit to serve.

      1. I read that this Bacerra character played a role in mocking a homeless women, what do you know about that?

        It appears that he really has an issue with the poor. What else can you tell me about him?

        1. He is indeed an elitist. While his name sounds Latino he is half-Filipino and is originally from Garden Grove. He used to work in the bay area for Gavin Newsom but the two parted some time ago. Phil finished a Planning degree at USC but has not lasted long at any civic planning department.

          1. In a city with such a large low and middle income minorities how does someone like this get appointed in the first place?

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