Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

First, read this article at the OC Register.

Doug Irving is one of the best reporters at the OC Register, not to mention a pretty nice and down-to-earth guy. But this article didn't sit too well with me, as well as several other individuals I spoke to about it.

Though, I wouldn't be too quick to blast Doug as he does bring up good points. Yeah, he does play up the “victim card” pretty nicely in this one but hold on, this is how I see it.

In recent years, the City seems to have developed an uncanny knack for missed opportunities, and I'm hoping that's the point Doug was trying to drive home; City, we're watching you this time.

Here are some key points from the article along with my thoughts:

  • The property owners made a nice profit from their dealings with the city–even the code enforcement-violating ones. I'm sorry if some of them have seller's remorse but let me be clear; if someone offered me a huge chunk of change for my loft, I'd sell it in a heartbeat and move downtown.

  • Calling your Ward a "slum" isn't the best choice of words, no matter how frustrated you are. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a slum as a densely populated usually urban area marked by crowding, dirty run-down housing, poverty, and social disorganization. This article seems to indicate that this definition could actually apply to what the Lacy neighborhood was prior to the City's intervention.

  • I wouldn't say nothing has come of the City's convoluted plan to improve the City. The Santiago Lofts were built as part of this plan and our being here has resulted in some pretty great things for the City so far (exhibit 1, exhibit 2, exhibit 3).

  • The City's plan of "buying up the crowded apartments and run-down homes that pocked the neighborhood, and replacing them with something newer, something better" does worry me. What exactly constitutes "newer and better"? More high-density apartments? No thank you. Let's not treat the people of Santa Ana like sardines please.

  • The City needs to adopt a plan and announce an end date to this project. Things are so much more exciting when you have one (that's also a Lost reference). Once the end date is in place, Santa Ana needs to take the ball and run up field for six for a change, instead of dancing side to side gaining zero, or even worse, negative yardage.

  • While I ask you to not crucify Mr. Irving for writing this article, I would like to present the fact that there is a severe dearth of positive articles written about Santa Ana in the Register; which is located less than a mile east of this so called "slum".

When and if the City does move forward with their plan, I hope they do it right. I hope whatever goes up in those lots (eh hem) causes drivers to slow down and be thankful they live/work in Santa Ana.


El Diablo Blanco said...

The Redevelopment Agency had better not sell another square inch of property to anyone for free. We MUST start granting 99 year leases for some absurdly low amount of money.

If we give away the land outright the developers will come back with stipulations they need remediation money to develop these lots because of environmental concerns or other "mitigating factors" that they can't address without pricing the homes so high they won't sell.

Get smart Santa Ana. The Irvine Company does the lease game with nearly all the land they develop with residential developers.

Hey Council, If you want to get tips on how things will run better, don't go looking at what Mexican City Councils' CAN'T get done because of term limits, talk you your neighboring cities with flourishing residential development and desirable communities about what they're doing right!

Doug Irving said...

Hey all, I'm the reporter on that story, and I just wanted to say that I'd be happy to talk to anyone who has questions, concerns or other story ideas. You can reach me at 714-704-3777 or at

Hipster said...

It looked like council member Claudia Alvarez tried to verbally spank reporter Doug Irving at Tuesday's council meeting for writing this article.
A couple of council members stated that there is a plan despite all appearances to the contrary. According to council member Bustamante, they have now bought the "last" piece and can now move forward with the project.

Given the city's schizophrenic approach to planning, and their love for spot zoning, I think it more likely that we'll see a couple of random projects crop up 3 to 5 years from now (most likely more housing) and once again the lack of ancillary businesses to support those residents.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame they had to get rid of some of the historical homes. I do hope they at least salvaged what they could for sale and re-use in other homes, but I am not optimistic.

I really can't understand why Santa Ana believes apartments are the answer when they seem to have been a large part of the problem in destroying each of the neighborhoods.

That said, a vibrant neighborhood can be made from a combination of homes and low rise apartment buildings - especially with the proper zoning and enforcement of quality of life (parking, density, etc.) ordinances. I had spoken with a former Orange cop and he said that once Orange passed and enforced certain laws, regarding granny flats and street parking, among others, that the amount of crime in those neighborhoods dropped notably.