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Authenticity and gentrification: The future of identity in Santa Ana and beyond (#AT30)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 7:00pm - 8:30pm
The Discovery Cube - Orange County 2500 N. Main Street Santa Ana, CA 92705 Map and directions
KPCCRadio (via YouTube)

On August 19, as part of AirTalk’s 30th anniversary regional tour, Larry Mantle was at the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana—a city that is more than 78 percent Latino—to discuss gentrification and the struggle to preserve a community’s culture while also boosting business.

Communities all across Southern California—and beyond—are changing dramatically as new businesses and people move in. But is all this change good? Can a city evolve without relying on outsiders coming in? 

The event was full, but the conversation wasn’t limited to the room. We were joined on Twitter by a number of prominent voices on this topic and other community members who weighed in using #AT30.

You can see their thoughts here: 


Santa Ana has long  been a majority-Latino city, with a population that is over 78 percent Hispanic or Latino and about 48 percent of its residents born in another country. But ever since efforts began to revitalize the city’s downtown area almost 30 years ago, there’s been fervent discussion about its changing demographics and whether Santa Ana should embrace its Latino heritage by preserving it, or favor economic development that could stifle unique cultural expression. The debate raises questions about what it means for a place to  stay “authentic,” and the good and bad that comes with gentrification.

Santa Ana is of course just one microcosm for this shift that neighborhoods are grappling with across Southern California and beyond – such as Boyle Heights, which is wrestling with the development of its Mariachi Plaza and Highland Park, where renters have been squeezed out by new businesses and neighbors over the last several years. Is it possible to preserve a city’s culture while also boosting business? Is change inevitable? These are just some of the issues Larry Mantle and a panel of guests will debate.


Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly Editor and contributor for KCRW 

Ryan Chase, president of Downtown Inc.

Erualdo Gonzalez, Associate Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at California State University, Fullerton and author of the forthcoming book, “The Latino City: Urban Revitalization, Politics, and the Grassroots”  

Hassan Haghani, Planning and Building Agency Executive Director representing the City of Santa Ana

Mark McLoughlin, Floral Park Neighborhood Community leader 

Alicia Rojas, community artist and co-founder of Santa Ana Community Artists Coalition 

Ana Siria Urzua, Campaign Coordinator for Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities

This event is part of the AirTalk 30th anniversary tour.