Thursday, May 30, 2013


I'm back (again).

No, I haven't moved, been stabbed, or joined a cult (well, I kinda did)–I just needed to take a break from blogging for a while, a real long while.

Why? Because being a "Type A" personality coupled with being a dude who is super-passionate about the City he lives in can quickly lead burn out–especially if you live in the City of Santa Ana.

Before my self-imposed exile from blogging, I often found myself thinking "why are people so short-sighted" and "gee, how many times am I going to hear the race card be played at this community meeting".

Every time I began a blog entry, I saw that bitterness began to consume my words and eventually my actions and that's when it hit me–the Santa Ana honeymoon is definitely over.

Many of the original residents here at the lofts have (smartly?) moved on and new tenants and renters have filled their spaces, but not their dreams and passions about this area that we all once shared.

My dream of living in a progressive downtown setting such as Portland, San Diego, or dare I say Brooklyn, was quickly fading as empty lots adjacent to our community, now branded "The Station District" were being filled by affordable rental projects (I'll have a few follow-up posts on this issue in the coming weeks). Our Station District was now looking more like The Apartment District.

And yes, I will agree that our downtown has grown up since the days of The Santa Ana Pub Crawl, it's a little too late–at least for me that is.

I love that there's a great music venue just right down the street from us at The Yost, but the thought of partying with an 18 and up crowd would definitely solidify my fears that I have finally entered a mid-life crisis.

I love that there's finally a restaurant on the corner of 3rd and Broadway (ChapterOne), yet I often question the over-complexity of the dishes on their menu and usually end up finding myself hanging out at the bar while making meaningless conversation with someone who is less-informed about the politics that govern and often blindly guide our city.

For so many years, I had lived in this dream world of what this city could be that when the walls of (Orange County) reality finally came crashing in, I needed to get away. So I ran.

Literally, I began running 5Ks, 10Ks, then half marathons, and finally the LA and OC Marathons. When that got boring (because let's face it, running is boring), I began participating in triathlons, relay triathlons, and other goofy grueling events that pushed my physical (and mental) limitations. Essentially, this was my cult., my escape.

2nd Place–Also known as "1st Place Loser".
Especially since there was only one other relay team!
These events offered a wonderful support group for those, like me, who are perpetual dream-chasers, by giving them an achievable goal along with a shiny little prize at the conclusion of the event (plus, my body weight, blood pressure and cholesterol all returned to normal levels).

But I never once took my eyes off my true passion–my city. As I trained for all of these events, I did it in this city. As my endurance grew and mile times improved, the downtown improved as well with cleaner streets, better lighting, and best of all, new faces coming to explore our city.

And for a while, I gave up chasing the dream of supporting street car projects, reviving a farmer's market, growing the Santiago Art Walks, supporting cool bungalow developments right down the street, and instead, chased finish lines and personal records.

But now, I think it's time to get back to focusing on my true passion, my beloved city.


Anonymous said...

That's good news.

Jon said...

Love your blog. And I think the Santiago Street Lofts are such a great idea. But living there seems a bit sketchy.

How's the property crime? Do you feel safe walking around at night?

Ben Dayhoe said...

Hi Jon,
Thanks for commenting (and reading).

Living here has been very safe. Everyone keeps an eye out for each other and no one is afraid to call the cops when necessary.

Property crime is minimal. There's a homeless guy that steals plants and doormats, but he's not all there.

I feel 100% safe walking (and running) around at night, though, just like any other place, you should never get too comfortable and let your guard down.

JJ said...

Ben, back in 2008 I read the promises of a trolley system, restaurants, etc. It's mid 2014, has any of that come to fruition? How is it living there now and how is Santa Ana progressing? Did the affordable housing property succeed in getting built? I would think that would lower the market there. And lastly, what do you like/dislike about living in the Santiago Lofts after living there for some time.

Thanks for your advice!

JJ said...

Also, how thin are the walls? Do you hear your neighbors loud tv's, etc?

Ben Dayhoe said...

Hi JJ,
Thanks for commenting.

Sounds like you might be in the market to buy?

From my encounters with the City Manager and Mayor, the street car is their top priorities for this area.

If I'm not mistaken, they're done with the EIR and Public Comment periods and now just need to choose a final route (scheduled to happen sometime in August).

The affordable housing comment will be answered in an upcoming blog post. I've been holding off on that one but the cannons are loaded >:)

What do I like/dislike? the workspace, having a garage, (most of) my neighbors.

Dislike...the lack of vision and bureaucracy that exists down at City Hall.

As for the walls–pretty sound proof. Every now and then I can hear my neighbor when he turns up the bass on his stereo, but it's usually on a Saturday afternoon and well, that's what you're supposed to do on Saturday afternoons! :)