Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Santa Ana needs more gay people.
There, I said it.

Having grown up in San Diego, I've seen first hand how the (GLBT) community can refine once rough urban areas like Hillcrest and further expand its positive gentrification into surrounding neighborhoods such as Normal Heights and North Park into desirable pocket destinations.

Don't take my word for it–here's an exerpt on Gay Villages from Wikipedia (yeah I know, Wikipedia isn't de facto, but I strongly agree with what is written).

These neighborhoods are also often found in working-class parts of the city, or in the neglected fringe of a downtown area – communities which may have been upscale historically but became economically depressed and socially disorganized. In these cases, the establishment of a gay community may eventually turn these areas into desirable, upscale neighborhoods, a process known as gentrification – a phenomenon in which gays often play a pioneer role.

That first sentence in the above quote sure sounds like both the Lacy and French Park (are you listening Santa Ana/Related California) neighborhoods, wouldn't you say?

So...who's with me on giving the water tower a fresh coat of rainbow paint this weekend?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back from the Dead

"Downtown Orange County"–that definitely has a ring to it. But I often wonder if the folks who decided to paint that slogan on our beloved water tower have ever been to a real downtown.

Don't get me wrong, I love the current flavor and charm of what sits between 1st Street and Civic Center Drive, but come 7PM on a Monday night, the lights go out and the sidewalks are rolled up.

One of the main issues I feel that's stunting this area's development is that the Residential Zoning Code mandates that only Live-Work developments can be built in Downtown Santa Ana (though I've heard this might be changing soon).

A few years back, the Olson Company breathed new life into Downtown Santa Ana by building both the Main Street and the award-winning East Village Lofts. But for some reason (I've heard a few speculations why), they never got a chance to finish up the final phase of their project (to be named Sycamore Street Lofts) located on the corner of 3rd and Sycamore.

After years of being a vacant lot and one of Santa Ana's (many) under-utilized assets, City Ventures has stepped in and is picking up right where Olson left off.

I've always hoped that this 1/2-acre lot would be the catalyst for bigger and better things for Downtown Santa Ana (like making Memphis want to be open on Monday nights). I'm not sure what the original specs called for, but image ground floor (quality) retail with 3 stories of residential sitting on top–that would be the tits.

Check out the press release below that was forwarded to me by my good amigo:

City Ventures’ Latest Acquisition Will Add More Life to Santa Ana’s Artist Village

Continuing its pace of aggressive land acquisitions, City Ventures has purchased a fully-entitled, half-acre community in Santa Ana, Calif., where it will complete development on a much-anticipated collection of live/work artist lofts. City Ventures acquired the property – adjacent to the downtown artist village – from a New York-based capital management fund and is now working with the City of Santa Ana to complete the community. The purchase was an all-cash transaction.

Situated on the corner of North Sycamore Street and West 3rd Street, less than a mile from the City’s Metrolink train station, the neighborhood is planned for 16 homes, ranging from 1,227 to 2,134 square feet with one to three bedrooms. Homes – expected to be complete in 2011 – will have an estimated average price of $400,000.

City Ventures is independently financing the community’s acquisition and construction.

In addition to this parcel in Santa Ana, City Ventures currently holds more than 2,000 lots within 13 California urban, coastal counties with more than $1.0 billion in revenue potential. The company also owns or controls – land in cities including Pasadena, Newport Beach, Santa Barbara, Encinitas, Yorba Linda, and Claremont.

To meet our team and learn more about City Ventures, please visit our website at www.cityventures.com

Special thanks to my good buddy El Diablo Blanco for the heads up.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The New Hotspot–Downtown Santa Ana

About a week and a half ago while dining at Memphis, I got a chance to catch up with one of Memphis' part-owner and my good buddy Dave Hastie.

Dave sat down at our table and pointed across the street to the roof of the Empire Building asking if we saw the new WiFi antenna.

"No–when did this happen?!" I asked.

"Just recently", he replied.
"We haven't made a public announcement yet."

Turns out that the free WiFi is provided by the Downtown Santa Ana Management District (a collective unit of participating Downtown Santa Ana business owners) and they're looking to expand all the way out to 4th Street and the Fiesta Marketplace.

How bitchin' is that?

I remember reading somewhere that mayoral candidate Al Amezcua wants to bring free public WiFi to Santa Ana should he be elected this November.

Way to go Downtown Santa Ana Management District for being one step ahead of the game.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wanted: Good Ideas to Lay Great Tracks

The first significant investment the City of Santa Ana would be implementing in our neighborhood is roughly three years out, but today and tomorrow, the project will need your input to make it a success.

The three or four of you who follow this blog already know that I back this idea and I sincerely believe that building a fixed-guideway system will improve all property values all along its path as well as serve as a tremendous asset to the “working class” resident.

With that being said, the City of Santa Ana will be hosting two listening sessions where they hope to gather community input to help make this project a success for everyone.

Please Join the Cities of Santa Ana and Garden Grove for a Community Listening Session for the Proposed Fixed-Guideway Project.
Your opinion is important to us!

Two community listening sessions are being planned for the proposed Santa Ana and Garden Grove Fixed Guideway project.

The goal of the project is to provide residents, workers and visitors with a new east-west transit connection between the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (SARTC), the Downtown District and Civic Center in Central Santa Ana, and Garden Grove.

Public input is important to the project’s development and we want to hear your thoughts and ideas. We have planned two community listening sessions, both are open to the public. Please attend the meeting most convenient for your schedule.

When and Where:
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (Train Station)
Room - Main Lobby
1000 East Santa Ana Boulevard
Santa Ana, CA 92701
*Corner of Santa Ana Boulevard and Santiago Avenue

When and Where:
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Santa Ana City Hall - Community Development Conference Room
Second Floor, Room 209
20 Civic Center Plaza
Santa Ana, CA 92701
*Corner of Civic Center Drive and Ross Street
For more information, please call us at (866) 580-9455

Upon first hearing about the rail project several years ago, I tried to find specific examples of how a streetcar system was detrimental to its city or the surrounding neighborhoods and found only hearsay.

If anyone out there in the Blogosphere knows of an example, please send it my way.

And no, the monorail project proposed and developed by Lyle Lanley does not count.

"Y'know, a town with money is a little like the mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fast Water, Slow Drains and Hitler's Revenge

Every time the sky opens up like it has these past few days, I flashback like a segment in LOST to my freshman year in college when I owned a 1990, 2-door Volkswagon Jetta (I know, total chick car).

Although it was a great alternative to walking to school, this car was a complete nightmare for this starving student. Not only did the car require some kind of major maintenance every other month keeping me in an eternal poor house, but this vehicle, appropriately nicknamed "Hitler's Revenge" by a good friend, leaked water like a sieve from Hell.

The worst part about the leaking water wasn't the fact that it destroyed a $160 Art History book, or my mid-term art project, no, it was the smell that matured from the floor just behind the driver's seat. I'd often warn people that asked me for a ride that my car had a very distinct aroma–equating it to a hot burlap sack of wet spoiled potatoes. Forget the air-fresheners, it only intensified my car's unique fragrance.

It's safe to say that because of "Hitler's Revenge", I will probably never, ever buy another Volkswagon for as long as I live.

Flash forward some 10+ years and I'm answering a phone call from a neighbor living at the lofts saying that the deluge has caused the gutter water to rise over the sidewalk and slowly creep through her front door.

Naturally, my first instinct is to call Public Works to see if they know of any sewer/gutter blockages. If not, then what are the public's options to help protect their property.

From a call I placed in to Public Works on Tuesday I learned two things: “All drains and gutters in Santa Ana drain slowly” (clogged with the dreams of so many who have tried to make Santa Ana a better place, perhaps?) and the City of Santa Ana offers up to 10 free sandbags to residents, 24 hours a day at a self-service station down at 215 South Center Street (92703).

View Larger Map

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I've attached a photo below that my good neighbor-friend took as he drove around the complex. All I can say is that I’ve lived here for roughly three and half years and I’ve never seen the water run this high, so this is definitely out of the norm.

Though this might seem like another dire situation where residents of Santa Ana are once again “assed-out” by the City, the flooding at this intersection will most likely need to be addressed when the City moves forward with their Go-Local Street Car plan…hopefully.