Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Santa Ana Speedway

The speed limit on Santa Ana Boulevard is a clearly posted 35mph, but rarely do those that drive on it observe it. I personally think it should be lowered to 25mph, and for good reason.

Over the past two years, I’ve seen a good amount of traffic accidents occurring within 100 yards of my front door. I attribute these frequent incidents to two things:

  1. Most people don’t know how to drive

  2. Drivers see the Boulevard as a Speedway

With that said, another accident occurred on East Santa Ana Boulevard yesterday around 6:30PM–this one involving a teenage kid on a bike and an OCTA bus.

This accident marks roughly the fifth accident that I’ve seen since on the “raceway” since July of this year, and it was probably the most nerve rattling one I’ve seen in a while. There’s no sound, doesn’t matter what language you speak, like the sound of a mother screaming out “Mi Niño, Mi Niño" (my boy, my boy)!

(And though some of you may think that I’m a sadistic ghoul for taking photos at accident scenes, these photographs will be instrumental in convincing city engineers, police, traffic departments and council members that steps will need to be taken to facilitate a reduction in speed on Santa Ana Boulevard. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.)

A few months back after this accident, I put a call into SAPD requesting an officer to sit out on Poinsettia Street and do nothing but write tickets in an effort to control the speeds that go unchecked in our neighborhood.

No response.

In addition, a recent request to speak with a city engineer about many of my traffic and parking concerns around the Santiago Street Lofts continues to go unanswered. Go figure.

Hopefully, an upcoming pow-wow with our most-elusive mayor will yield better results–it is an election year after all.

So just how fast are these commuters driving down Santa Ana Boulevard? Well, according to my very affordable and quite accurate Hot Wheels radar gun, a decent amount of the drivers are obeying the speed limit, but the majority of people I've tracked using this gun were driving an average of 40mph, but some have exceeded that number by an additional 20mph!

Just this morning, I stepped out to grab some readings during the off-peak hours. The slowest speed I captured was 39mph as these drivers darted west into the high-density neighborhood that borders the Speedway.

Even now as I write this post, commuters are making their mad dash from downtown as the mass exodus of Santa Ana begins.

It’s only a matter of time until one of these drivers ends up crashing through my front door.

" need to pump your brakes and drive slow homie".

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


One of the best things about living on Santa Ana Boulevard is the convenience of being able to spark a conversation with any of the many pedestrians that pass through here daily.

People who’ve lived in this area of Santa Ana are happy to see something as nice as our lofts finally come to their neighborhood. Joggers and dog walkers are popping up everywhere and it's great!

Having spoken with several high school students that transverse these sidewalks (upwards of ten times a school week), these lofts represent what these students could achieve should they choose to continue on their paths for higher education–in other words, these lofts represent hope.

In a city touting an “Education First” motto, but only supporting a painfully low 56% graduation rate among high school students (source: Civic for Civic Innovation), hope is something this town and these students desperately need.

And what of the 56% of students that do graduate from high school and move on to pursue a four-year degree? Do you think that Santa Ana has what it takes to retain these educated individuals once college is done?

No. They end up moving to real cities with real downtowns such as Los Angeles, San Diego or Long Beach.

The remaining 44% of students who don’t graduate from high school statistically end up in low-wage jobs, with very few options or ways out of this city.

Having spoken with a friend that once worked at Latino Health Access, 8 out of 10 teenage females will get pregnant in the city of Santa Ana.

As a good friend put it, Santa Ana has created a wonderful system of dependency.

Growing up, I didn’t have much, but I did see a lot of wonderful things happening in downtown San Diego that aspired me to continue on with my education.

Though the Broadway One tower (terrible website design) is riddled with controversy and shenanigans, I welcome that development in that it too brings hope. Once built, the tower will not only bring in new faces to Santa Ana, but also large corporations that could help retain the educated students who would normally make an exodus from this town.

Currently, downtown Santa Ana does not allow standard (R2) residential living. As stated in the Renaissance Plan, this restriction would be lifted offering new living options to current residents and outsiders seeking the urban lifestyle.

Anyone who knows me personally has probably heard my rant as to how important this zoning change is to this city. With such limiting restrictions on residential developments, our downtown currently operates as a dismal 10-hour downtown when it could easily be an 18-hour downtown full of restaurants, activities and a wondrous nightlife.

Employment opportunities will blossom from every corner. Restaurants such as Memphis, Jason’s and Tommy Pastrami could support a full 7-day schedule with the influx of hungry urbanites. County workers that normally stampede out of the city come five o'clock now have a reason to hang out and spend some time and money in our fabulous downtown. The increased foot traffic would create a better sense of security for those who before, would never step foot in Santa Ana, and now would do anything to be here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August Art Walk

Last month we had a great turnout for our July art walk. Local restaurants Bistro 400 and Jason's Downtown Restaurant pitched in with much some needed refreshments and treats for our guests.

This Saturday, August 16th brings yet another art walk full of good times and then some.

Even with the help of the downtown restaurants, it's hard to predict how busy art walk nights will be. In recent months, our community has worked extra hard as a unified team to promote this monthly event. Why? Because we can't wait for the city to bring the fun–just ask the downtown loft residents who've been here 5 years and counting.

And though the success of our art walk is due to many factors like our residents, I'd like to take the time to thank some of the websites that helped get us on the map:

OC Now
The OC Art Blog
The City of Santa Ana Calendar
The French Park Website
Yelp (thanks Brian!) - taco lady does rock

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Who's Up For Another Round?

Looking at the stack of completed Crawler Cards from last month's Pub Crawl is a great sign of its success. People from all over came to experience what Downtown Orange County has to offer and they loved it.

All of the participating locations ran fantastic food and drink specials throughout the night, though I feel that The Gypsy Den had the best deal–a plate of nachos and a pitcher of Sierra Nevada for $15–Yum!

That's why it shouldn't be a surprise that this Saturday, August 9th (starting at 5PM), we'll be doing it once again!

Jim Kendrick, owner of Rags has also gotten into the Pub Crawl mood by offering all Crawlers 10% off purchases $10 or more (excluding cigarettes). Why not pick something up that night that you can read during your recovery on Sunday?

Visit the Santa Ana Pub Crawl website for more information, or visit the gallery of photos from last month's event to see what you missed.

Thank you to Jason Nguyen and Julie Shen for those hilarious photos.