Thursday, December 20, 2007

Phoenix House & Toys for Tots Event

If you've been looking to spread some holiday cheer this year, the Phoenix House could use your help.

Located just down the street from the Santiago Street Lofts, The Phoenix House is a residential substance abuse treatment program for adolescents and adults where residents take an active part in their recovery, and accept the support and insight of their peers under the guidance of dedicated, trained professionals.

This Saturday, The Phoenix House in conjunction with Toys for Tots, is hosting an event where children and families of those in recovery will be given Christmas gifts by Santa Claus himself, played by California State Senator Lou Correa.

So how can you help?
Well, as with any event of this size, volunteers will be needed to help the event run smoothly. In addition, Old Saint Nick could use a few more elves to help with the gift giving.

Also, there is currently a huge shortage of toys for kids (mostly for boys) ages 12 and up. If you drop off a gift by this Friday or before, The Phoenix House will take care of the gift wrapping. If you bring a gift with you to the event this Saturday, please wrap and label your gift so the elves and Santa will know what’s being given.

All gifts given are tax-deductible.

The Phoenix House/Toys for Tots event takes place:

Saturday, December 22, 2007
9:00am to 12:00 noon
1207 East Fruit Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For more information on how you can help out, or to sign up as a volunteer, please contact:

Geoff Henderson, M.S.
Senior Program Director
Phoenix Houses of Orange County
(714) 953-9373, ext. 4811 (or his assistant Cathleen at ext. 4812)

Visit the Phoenix House website.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2007 Santa Ana Shootings

Red Marker: Homicide | Yellow Marker: Shooting | Blue Marker: Shots Fired

Click Here to View Larger Map with Incident Details

This time of year, people like to write Christmas cards and make plans for New Year's Eve. I like to make interactive maps of tragic events that take place in this gang-infested town.

I'm still missing data from January through April, as well as the month of June, but I wanted to give you all an early Christmas present.

Creating this map was a very interesting learning experience. Here are a few things that I concluded about gang activity in Santa Ana while working on this project:

  1. Even if you claim "nothing", you'll probably still get shot.

  2. Bangers use all means of transportation to get their job done (Cars, bicycles, own two feet, although, I'd be really surprised to hear about a banger on roller skates).

  3. Black SUV's tailgating you usually means bad news.

  4. No one ever knows exactly how many gunshots were fired when asked by police.

  5. Descriptions of suspects are always too vague.

  6. You are more likely to be shot between the hours of 3PM-2AM in Santa Ana.

So yeah, Santa Ana is in dire need of a renaissance, but hope needs to begin with the people. And for these folks, hope maybe what they need to stop shooting at each other.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Lights Festival at the Santa Ana Zoo

“Holiday Lights” is a family festival for everyone to enjoy the Zoo all lit up at night with beautiful decorations, displays, and thousands of lights.

This annual festival includes music, storytelling, animal encounters, and other festive holiday entertainment!

Enjoy delicious treats, $3 rides on the Zoofari Holiday Express train, and more!

Fri, Dec. 21: City of Santa Ana Night (Residents and Employees get in free)
Sat, Dec. 22: Member Appreciation Night (Members get in free)
Fri, Dec. 28: Grandparents Night (Grandparents get in free)
Sat, Dec 29: Member Appreciation Night (Members get in free)

Holiday Lights runs from 5:30PM to 8 PM, Rain or Shine.

General Admission: $6
Member Price: $3 (ages 3 & up)

For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit the Santa Ana Zoo's website.

The Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park is located at:
1801 E. Chestnut Ave, Santa Ana, 92701

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Jason's Downtown Restaurant

I recently had the opportunity to visit Jason’s Downtown Restaurant & Wine Cellar, located directly across from the Ronald Regan Federal Building in downtown Santa Ana.

This area of downtown Santa Ana is one of my more favorites with traditional brick stone buildings lining the somber streets. In any other city, this block would be "off the hook" after hours, being a hip restaurant row full of live music and great eats. But this is Santa Ana, who am I kidding?

For my late lunch, I started out with the Southwest Seasoned Quesadilla with Grilled Jerk Chicken; which was fantastic in jump-starting my tired taste buds after a week of eating leftover pizza. The mango salsa that accompanied the dish was a light and zesty addition.

Next up was the Turkey Club Panini with Applewood Smoked Bacon and mozzarella cheese. The rich flavor of the panini resulted in a "scarfing down" that would even impress the likes of Takeru Kobayashi.

When the holiday luncheon wrapped up, I got a chance to chitchat with restaurant owner Jason Kordas. He regaled me with stories of his earlier years growing up in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and his late-night trips where he “borrowed” his parent’s car to drive downtown, finding his way to swanky Jazz clubs located within The Village.

Jason’s love for the hip vibe found within those Jazz clubs is reflected in the “sophisticated-casual” atmosphere within his own restaurant. Out front is a large, string-light lit patio, with heat lamps to balance out cool, crisp nights.

Jason’s gregarious East Coast personality shines through as he engages in one-on-one conversations with customers new and returning, making the dining experience all the more intimate.

Jason's Downtown Restaurant and Wine Cellar is located in the heart of Downtown Santa Ana at 416 W. Fourth Street.

Hours of operation vary, check the restaurant's website for more information.

Click on and print the coupon below and receive 20% off your entire meal, or 50% off drinks and appetizers during happy hour.

Should you need more convincing, read the delicious OC Weekly review of Jason's.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Little Too Close to Home

View Larger Map

One of today's top headlines in the Santa Ana section of the OC Register is this article about how local Police and immigrant agents shut down an alleged heroin ring operating out of Rollin Auto Collision, which is just a few minutes walking distance away from our community.

I've seen some people near our community with the obvious track marks of a heroin user, but never suspected a drug ring operation to be in our backyard.

This town definitely needs an enema.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Desire Named Street Car

While the idea of having a system of streetcars in downtown Santa Ana has generated a lot of criticism, I personally welcome it. One of the many lures that attracted me to moving to Santa Ana was the CenterLine light rail project.

But like many projects that start here in Santa Ana, the light rail project grows further from our grasp. From what I've been told by the folks at OCTA, this project will most likely not come to fruition any time soon. I've heard rumors that the city of Irvine is partly to blame, mainly because they don't want certain elements from within our city to make their way over to their taupe and beige town.

“Go away! There ain’t no monorail and there never was!”

With recent talks of a streetcar coming to this town, my hopes for a fun and successful mass-transit system are slowly being rekindled. Two serious issues that I see as an immediate problem are:

1. The streetcars are without any worthwhile destinations.
Santa Ana seems backwards at times, building new homes and lofts, attracting people like myself to this city, but then doesn't do much by way of supporting our leisurely needs. One can only go to Bowers Museum and the Discovery Center so many times.

Santa Ana seems backwards at times, building new homes and lofts, attracting people like myself to this city, but then doesn't do much by way of supporting our leisurely needs. One can only go to Bowers Museum and the Discovery Center so many times.

2. Streetcars will most likely end up the target of taggers.
Though definitely not the only other problem, the glass on the cars will undoubtedly be etched on a continual basis, and the exteriors will become the canvases for Santa Ana's very untalented spray can jockeys.

My biggest concern about continuing to live in Santa Ana, is that the city will not develop at a pace fast enough to retain the young professionals that have moved into new loft developments all over the city. We all took a big gamble moving to this city, let's just hope it pays off sooner than later.

Here is good pro-streetcar article coming from my favorite city.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

In Case of Boredom, Break Glass

Saturday night (12/08) between the hours of 6PM and 8:45PM, another community-owned fire extinguisher was stolen near 702 N. Santiago Street.

A short while back, the fire extinguisher next to 904 Poinsettia Street was being stolen on a weekly basis. Eventually, the extinguisher was relocated to a spot where potential thieves could easily be targeted, then beaten.

Hopefully once the lot across the street is redeveloped, the folks on N. Santiago Street will have someone watching their backs (er, fronts).

A police report was filed, given a case number of #0747174.

Thanks goes out to El Diablo Blanco for the heads up on this one.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Come and Get It!

Last Monday (12/03), I sent an email to Keystone Pacific notifying them that all of the exterior lights on building 9 (facing Santa Ana Boulevard) have not been turning on when the sun goes down. Here is the response I received that same day:

"Thank you for the update on the lights. I’m sorry this is still outstanding. My Associate is on the phone with Sundown Lighting right now."

Thankfully, none of the windows have been etched while that building sits in the dark as a prime target, but we still have to make it through Sunday night, a popular night for graffiti in Santa Ana.

In my opinion, should something happen to this building before these lights are fixed, the homeowners shouldn’t be the ones responsible for the costs. I will be placing a call into Keystone tomorrow morning to once again address this issue.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Proof That There's Still Hope

Thursday night’s meeting had an awesome show of support from not only Santiago Street Loft residents, but from Santa Ana Police Department, Santa Ana's Community Development Agency, and many prominent leaders and friends from around the city.

The success of our development is key for the brighter future that awaits the city of Santa Ana. Proof of that was reflective in the support we received from the likes of community leaders from all over Santa Ana including: Councilwoman Michele Martinez, Thomas Anthony Gordon from The Orange Juice Blog, Carl Overmyer, President of the NRA Members Council of Orange representing WECOP, Julie Stroud of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Scott Kutner and Rafael Navejas from Santa Ana Community Development Agency, and Doug Irving from the Orange County Register.

Like Detective Eric Rivas said, our loft community is much like the early pioneers of the Old West in these rough lands. Every now and then, we will need to circle the bandwagons to watch each other’s back. Last night was a great example of such.

And while this was the first meeting between our loft community and the Santa Ana Police Department, the strength and survival of our community relies on it not being the last.

Special thanks to SAPD including: Corporal Matt Brown of Northeast Directed Patrol, Corporal Tino Gallo of Civic Center Patrol, Graffiti Detective Eric Rivas, Officer Mona Ruiz from the Graffiti Task Force and Police Service Officer Gabriela Alday for bringing this meeting together.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Police Meeting Tonight @ 6:30

Tonight, December 6th starting at 6:30PM, the Santa Ana Police Department will be hosting a community meeting specifically for residents of the Santiago Street Lofts, and any surrounding neighborhood communities.

The meeting will be taking place on the 5th floor in the Santa Ana Train Depot tower. Elevator access is available to the floor if needed.

Michele Martinez and Thomas Gordon have notified me that they will also be in attendance.

Original post available here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What the Hell Smells?

Taking a short break from working tonight, I stepped outside to take in the cool winter-night air, only to inhale what smells like a combination of melting plastic and sharpie markers. This isn't the first time I've smelled this odd stench either. It’s a strong one too–taking off my shoes does little to mask the odor.

Maybe it's the collective scent of all of the aerosol spray cans being used right now in Santa Ana.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Little Bird Told Me...

A reliable source told me today that Lennar will resume construction of the Santiago Street Lofts in January of 2008.

With most construction projects on hold these days, this is a great sign for not only our small community, but the real estate market in general.

Let's just hope they don't give them away again, screwing everyone on their sales comps.

The Cost of Living (on the street)

I contacted Kim Dean over at Keystone Pacific, our property management company, about what steps we as homeowners need to take in order to get the glass on the roll-up doors covered by the association. Here is her response:

"We would need to get legal counsel involved in order to make the glass an HOA responsibility. This probably would not happen until the community is built out and off the DRE Budget. The Association currently does not have the funds to cover this expense."

Unfortunately, the extra $60,000 spent to have a unit facing the street has yet to pay off, with the exception of a great view of people who constantly pick through the trashcans and the sidewalk's never-ending stroller traffic.

Monkey Business at Circus Hall

So my friend Thomas Gordon had no chance with the ringleaders of the circus we call city hall. The immediate 6-1 vote in favor of Thomas’ removal was a slap in the face to not only the outspoken citizens who stood up for Mr. Gordon and spoke out on his behalf, but to the rest of the citizens who care about Santa Ana, myself included.

I was amused and amazed as to how fast the council brought this issue to vote, where just minutes before, it seemed as if the unfunny mayor was joking and stalling when presenting awards to the honorable employees who have patiently served the city for more than twenty years. Yeah I said it–he’s not funny, AT ALL.

When the vote was passed, it happened so quickly that I had to turn to the lady behind me to ask "Was that it?" I wanted to stand up and yell that this city is f’ing joke and it’s being run into the ground by monkeys, but that would be offensive to my friends swinging from trees and throwing feces at each other. Those of you who know me personally know that this course of action isn’t completely out of my nature.

With my face red from my blood boiling over, and my palms so sweaty, they rippled the night’s agenda I held in my hand, I jolted up. Eyes angrily closed, teeth clenched, palms now in a fist, I took a deep breath, and said nothing. It was at that instant that I realized that having Thomas Gordon removed was the best thing that this council could do for this distressed city and Mr. Gordon.

Here we have an honorable man, whom many have stated cares more about the city of Santa Ana than our current mayor. Thomas’ removal from the EPIC commission by the 6 of the 7 council members can only be due to personal reasons, and possibly serving a deeper political agenda.

Imagine having a subordinate, who does more, makes more sense, and is liked more than you. Soon enough, people are going to start looking at you and questioning your ability to lead. So what did the city do in this case? They fired him in hopes to shut him down.

But this type of monkey business is totally within the realm of Santa Ana political fashion (there I go again insulting real monkeys). What better way to handle a serious issue than to look the other way, rather than tackling it head on? Over twenty years have Mayor Pulido and City Manager Dave Ream been in office, and the state of the city just keeps getting worse. Okay, so there are less transvestite hookers, I’ll give you that, but at least they weren’t shooting each other and vandalizing the city at all hours of the day.

Why just the other night, I walked outside to see why a homeless guy was throwing trash all over the sidewalk only to be threatened by Santa Ana locals demanding money from me. I guess those guys read this Blog being that they knew my screen name and kept saying it as they threatened me. Not until they got a glance of my jesus stick did they decide that I wasn’t worth the trouble.

By removing Thomas Gordon from his position, the council has now brought even more attention to their poor management and decision-making, which hopefully will result in a drastic and much needed change in the next mayoral election next year. Pandora’s box has now been opened and the city has made a martyr of Mr. Thomas Gordon. By slaying him from his position, they have made his voice all the more louder and clearer.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Support Thomas Anthony Gordon Tonight

Sometime ago, I was in a serious rut due to the hazards of living in Santa Ana for the last year and a half. From having our windows etched by taggers, homeless people throwing their garbage on our porch, to the serious lack of the “play” element that Lennar sold us on before moving here, I felt myself slipping down a dark and hateful path.

What started off as a simple personal chronicle for living in this city, blogging only made me even more frustrated with how poorly the city of Santa Ana is progressing in management, development and the addressing of serious concerns that have infested the city for years.

One day, my wife noticed that a Thomas Anthony Gordon of the Orange Juice Blog had picked up one of my articles and reposted it on their high-traffic Blog. I was shocked and surprised to see that someone not only took the time to read and hear my concerns, but also offered to help find a solution.

Soon after, phone calls to the city were getting returned, emails answered and hope returned to this humble soul. This Thomas guy gave me the soapbox I needed to make this city a better place, and I wanted to thank him.

I did my research on Mr. Gordon and found out that not only was he a strong and level-headed voice writing for the Orange Juice Blog, but also an appointed member of (EPIC), the Early Prevention and Intervention Commission working to reduce crime, gang activity and graffiti in Santa Ana.

After a city council meeting, I asked Michele Martinez, our ward representative/council member to help make the introduction. She pointed in the direction of the man who stood as tall as a Viking, but was as friendly and personable as someone I've known for years.

Staring me straight in the eyes with a firm handshake, I knew from the start that this guy meant business. I asked for advise on how he has been able to not let the city drain him emotionally as it has been doing to me. The more I tried to make the city of Santa Ana a better place, the more I felt my soul being sucked away, I told Thomas.

Thomas was quick to commend the blog and encouraged us as a community to not give up hope. He spoke of the many great things in Santa Ana that I have yet to experience, opening my eyes to future adventures. As a fellow food-lover, Thomas was quick to suggest restaurants for me to visit and review, thus helping local establishments attract new customers. Finally, Mr. Gordon enlightened me to several steps I could take to strengthen our community and to help build relationships with the neighborhoods adjacent to us.

After a two-hour conversation with Thomas Gordon, I felt rejuvenated and recharged. The excitement about living in this city returned to my heart. I was once again glad to have made the move here.

This morning, I was shocked to read that on the city council’s agenda tonight is an effort to remove Mr. Gordon from his position. This is just another example of the back door shenanigans that our dysfunctional council tries to pull for what seems to be only political reasons, and nothing else. I invite all that read this Blog to come support Thomas Gordon who has been championing our voice here at the Santiago Street Lofts for quite some time.

The city council meeting takes place tonight, December 3, 2007, starting at 6:00 P.M. and will he held in the City Council Chambers located within 22 Civic Center Plaza.

You can read more about the story at the OC Register and also at the Orange Juice Blog.

Thomas Gordon was there for me when I was about to give up my efforts to make this city a better place. Tonight I will be Tivo’ing Heroes to help stand up for a real one.