Larry Mantle |

Santa Ana's battle for the soul of a city

Tuesday morning on AirTalk, we aired our hour-long debate about the future of Santa Ana’s downtown.  The program originated at Libreria Martinez, Ruben Martinez’s terrific bookstore on Broadway in the heart of historic Santa Ana.

There were at least a couple of major themes that we heard from those on both sides of the redevelopment issue.  One of them was about the process the city council uses for listening to citizen input and incorporating it into planning and demands on developers. 

Critics charge that the council is beholden to developers and a small group of downtown property owners, who ride roughshod over broader community interests.  The critics are also clearly worried that the city’s redevelopment agenda will push out Latinos, many of whom are undocumented, in favor of wealthier shoppers and residents.

The two city council members who joined us argued that Santa Ana has a wealth of beautiful historic buildings downtown that are being underutilized.  They’d like to see a broader range of shops, restaurants, and housing so that the population can be broadened and the city diversified.  They pointed to the need for more parks and resident amenities, which they said could be funded by increasing investment and consumer spending in Santa Ana.  The council members also criticized community activists for filing suit against a low income housing project, claiming that the critics’ demands were unrealistic and threatened the overall project.

If you heard the program, and additional half-hour of audience questions available online, let me know what you think.  Whose vision of Santa Ana is best for the city?