Dear Ward 3 residents,
As the year comes to a close, I want to reflect on the challenges that we have faced here in Santa Ana—along with the accomplishments we’ve achieved together. Over the past two years, we have faced unprecedented difficulties due to an ongoing global pandemic. I am so proud of how Santa Ana has responded to COVID-19 while also addressing the challenges of the day. We saw parts of Ward 3 achieve some of the highest vaccination levels—which shows how you took care of yourselves and our community. During these two difficult years, Santa Ana’s resilience and compassion has shone bright, and makes me hopeful for the future.
In 2022, we hit the ground running again. We’ve had an eventful year full of engaging community events, program successes, and new partnerships. My efforts have been focused on delivering results: from establishing a working taskforce to address issues in the creek and cementing weekly patrol, to actively working in keeping our parks clean, investing in our infrastructure, investing and expanding youth services, and making sure our city is financially healthy. Our actions to address the housing crisis, such as implementing new ideas that had not been tried in the city before, has inspired other cities and counties to do the same. We remain committed to supporting common sense policies.
2022 was a year where we faced many challenges, but we stepped up and led the way. And in 2023, we will build upon the progress we have made towards building more pathways for homeownership, including creating and preserving affordable housing and continuing our regional leadership to address homelessness. We will continue to improve our infrastructure and fix the issues that were not addressed for decades before my time on the City Council. I will continue to fight for open space and continue my efforts to deliver real results to Ward 3 residents.
Thank you to the people of Ward 3 for electing me as your Councilmember in 2020. I look forward to working with you in my third year as we continue to lead the way in advancing practical solutions that become the benchmark for others to follow. We will continue to face many challenges from the continued impacts of COVID-19, such as uncertainty within the global economy. But as we always have been, I am confident that we will be ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow and pave a better future for all Santa Ana residents. My final wish for you is this: I hope you have a fabulous New Year with your loved ones. As for me, I’ll be home finishing reading What the Eyes Don’t See and enjoying the rain! I’ll see you in the New Year… We have a lot of great activities and events planned for you!
Mayor Pro Tem Jessie Lopez
Ward 3 highlights
Winter Village Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Santa Ana Winter Village
The City of Santa Ana hosted the second-annual Santa Ana Winter Village–a winter wonderland with an ice-skating rink, live entertainment, holiday shopping, local food trucks, and much more–right here at the Civic Center. To mark the beginning of the holiday festivities, we opened the Winter Village with a tree-lighting ceremony! If you’re near Downtown, stop by the Civic Center to see the beautifully decorated 30-foot tree (it’s located between the library and City Hall).
The Winter Village runs through January 8. Make sure to come and check it out before we close out for the season!
Concern America receives recognition at City Council meeting
I had the pleasure of inviting Concern America to a City Council meeting to be recognized for all of the work they do to support impoverished communities. Concern America is a globally focused nonprofit organization that has worked in materially impoverished regions since 1972. By transforming need into self-sufficiency, Concern America seeks to bring health care, clean water, education, and income opportunities to communities worldwide.
Concern America has worked in fifteen countries on four continents, making a difference in the lives of over two million people in remote regions that lack access to these essential services. They train local community members to be their own health care providers, midwives, water engineers, and teachers. They also work with artisan cooperatives around the world with their fair trade marketplace. They are based in Santa Ana and have programs in Guatemala, Colombia, and Mexico.
Concern America is an organization with a global heart–and I thank you for your outstanding contributions to the Santa Ana community and the communities around the world.
Assistance League of Santa Ana is recognized by the City Council
My City Council colleagues recently invited the Assistance League of Santa Ana (ALSA) to recognize them for all of their work. The Assistance League has been serving the Santa Ana community for 85 years!
The Assistance League is a unique nonprofit organization composed of member volunteers who bring their talents and abilities together to fulfill the mission of helping children, students, families and seniors in Santa Ana. As one of the National Assistance League’s 120 Chapters, the Assistance League of Santa Ana members are incredibly generous and imaginative. Each one is highly motivated to effect change in Santa Ana. Each one has the spirit to get the job done, whatever it is and whatever it takes.
Today, the Assistance League serves youth, seniors and families in the community through Operation School Bell, College Scholarship Program, Thrift Shop, Senior Outreach, Soc-it-to-Hunger food distribution, assistance with Wise Place’s human trafficking efforts, and Madison School’s food pantry program. They have provided over 2,500 uniforms, backpacks, school supplies, and shoes to our youth, awarding over $50,000 in educational scholarships through the Gift of Giving program, during the holidays they distribute Christmas gifts to hundreds of families. All of this is only possible through the generosity of the league’s volunteers. These volunteers exemplify the true spirit of the Santa Ana community.
Thank you to the Assistance League for your dedication to transforming lives and strengthening our community!
Utility box repairs complete
During a neighborhood meeting, a constituent let me know that an in-ground utility box in front of their home was damaged. If you see in the picture above, the cover had collapsed, potentially creating a trip hazard for anyone walking around this area.
I reported the issue to our team, who confirmed that this particular utility box belonged to AT&T. We worked with AT&T to replace the utility box cover (see below!).
I share this with you to encourage you to please report issues when you see them. You can report an issue online, by using the mySantaAna app on your smartphone, or by calling the Public Works hotline at (714) 647-3380.
Toy drives for Santa Ana families
I had a wonderful time joining our local nonprofits, such as United Across Borders, to help give away toys and gifts to Santa Ana residents!
Councilmember Hernandez led a toy drive in coordination with Tropicanna, 1901 Project, North Seventeenth Real Estate, KAL Attorneys, Underground GRIT, and others. Thank you to our community organizations for giving back and helping Santa Ana families have a nice holiday.
CRECE urban farm cooperative seeks to install solar panels
CRECE recently launched a crowdsourcing fundraiser to install solar panels at their farm. CRECE has partnered with OC Goes Solar, a local organization who supports community projects to meet their renewable energy needs. Having the capacity to produce and store electricity will open the door to projects that will greatly improve our impact in the work we are doing in our community including but not limited to installing a walk-in cooler that will allow us to store crops of our own harvest and work with other farmers in our region to store and distribute their harvest. Please consider donating if you can and, also if you can, spread the word.
Also, I’d like to give a shout-out to Northgate-Gonzalez Markets for recently donating to CRECE!
Posada at Centennial Park
The United Across Borders Foundation recently hosted a posada at Centennial Park. I was proud to support by handing out gifts to our kids! The festivities also includes a food and toy drive for Santa Ana families.
Santa Clara Avenue / Bristol Street intersection upgrades coming soon
The plans to upgrade the traffic signal at the intersection of Santa Clara and Bristol to all-four turn signals are complete. The project will go out to bid (this means that we’ll engage in competitive bidding to find the best contractor to perform the work) next week and construction will start in April 2023. I’m happy to see that our government is being responsive to our constituents and that we’re working to improve traffic flow in our city. A special thank-you to the West Floral Park and Riverview neighborhood residents for engaging the City on this project!
Business highlight: La Torta Loca
I recently took some time to tour local businesses in Ward 3 to say hello and recognize them for being part of the business community. Last month, I visited Torta Loca located at 2031 E 1st Street, a family-owned restaurant that serves typical Mexican fare at a reasonable price. If you’re on East First Street and looking for a place to eat, consider stopping by!
City Council meeting agenda item recap
If you attend our City Council meetings, you’ll notice that my colleagues and I are busy considering A LOT of agenda items. The agenda items we discuss at our City Council meetings are important because there are implications related to the outcome of each and every policy decision we make. Know that as your Ward 3 representative, I have your best interest in mind when I make policy decisions. That being said, I wanted to highlight some recent agenda items that the City Council has discussed.
City Council authorizes filing of receivership petitions and prosecute nuisance abatement actions
The City of Santa Ana has successfully resolved numerous difficult code enforcement matters with civil litigation. Specifically, the City has brought receivership actions pursuant to the California Health and Safety Code and nuisance abatement actions pursuant to the California Code of Civil Procedure and the California Civil Code. Our Code Enforcement Division identified nine properties as candidates for receivership actions based on the severity of violations or length of non-compliance.
City receives grant from California State Library for the Zip Books Program
The Santa Ana Public Library was awarded a grant in the amount of $9,928 by the California State Library for its Zip Books Program. The Zip Books Program is an alternative model for a interlibrary loan service that bridges the gap between a library’s regular collection development practice and a home delivery service. The purpose of the program is to (1) provide patrons with speedy access to books they might not otherwise be able to access through the library, and (2) offer a patron-driven collection development approach to a library’s usual process, resulting in a collection more closely matched to local community needs. Under the program, Library patrons can request books and audiobooks that the Library does not currently have in its collection. The Library will order the books from Amazon (the grant’s preferred vendor) and the books will then be shipped directly to the patron. Patrons will return the books to the Library at the end of the loan period and the books are added to the Library’s collection.
New library branch planned at the Delhi Center
More good news: the Library has negotiated a lease agreement with the Delhi Center for the construction of a new public library branch within their existing building. Approximately 2,500 square feet of space at the Delhi Center will be re-imagined as a new, innovative public library experience. A new outdoor activity patio will also be constructed to support library services and programs.
City Council approves Density Bonus Agreement for for-sale townhouses at 717 S Lyon Street
The City Council recently approved a density bonus agreement with Warmington Residential, Inc. for a for-sale residential townhouse development consisting of 51 townhouse units, with eight units proposed as affordable to low-income households, at 717 S Lyon Street. The development consists of 17,790 square feet of open space and 105 parking spaces, including 102 covered parking spaces, as well as three open/guest parking spaces. The development consists of 12 residential buildings with three-story townhouse units and will provide on-site bicycle storage. The structures will each contain a two-car garage at ground level (tuck-under building design) with residential units above, some with balconies/decks and others with a den/fourth flex room. Of the total units in the development, eight units are proposed to be affordable to households earning less than 50-80 percent of the area median income, which is currently set at $108,400, adjusted for a four-person household size.
City Council approves one-year extension of variance for the Madison Mixed-Use Development Project at 200 N Cabrillo Park Drive
The City Council approved variances for a reduction in parking and increased side yard setback, which facilitated the construction of a seven-story mixed-use development project with up to 260 units for the property located at 200 North Cabrillo Park Drive. At the December 6, 2022 meeting, the City Council authorized a one-year extension of those variances to allow the property owner to continue working on this development.
TKO Youth Foundation Agreement amended
The City of Santa Ana and TKO Youth Foundation previously entered into a two-year agreement for the limited right to utilize the fitness room inside the Jerome Community Center to host tournaments and to provide boxing classes, training, and equipment storage. As part of the agreement, TKO is charged an hourly fee, per month, for use of the Fitness Room, as determined by the City’s Miscellaneous Fee Schedule. The then-corresponding miscellaneous fee for the use of Fitness Room on the agreement execution date was $20 per hour. On June 7, 2022, City Council approved the Fiscal Year 2022-23 Miscellaneous Fee Schedule that adjusted the rate of the Fitness Room based on square footage. The new adjusted rate for the Fitness Room in the Jerome Community Center, based on square footage, is $116.00 per hour, and represents the value for short-term rental opportunity. In the case of TKO’s long-term facility use agreement, the current rate of $116 per hour represents a significant rental fee increase. At the December 6meeting, the City Council decided to amend the City’s agreement with TKO and waive fees for the use of the fitness center. I am proud to support TKO and similar organizations that provide active programming to our residents that, in-turn, benefit our community’s long-term well-being.
City Council directs staff to evaluate vacant property registration rules
At the December 6, 2022 meeting, I introduced a policy discussion item relating to vacant properties. My colleagues and I joined together to ask City staff to evaluate the current vacant property registration requirements and return with recommendations to enhance its effectiveness in addressing both vacant structures and land. Stay tuned for an update!
Construction contract approved for First Street Slope Project
The City Council recently awarded a construction contract for the First Street Slope Stabilization Project. This project addresses the existing degraded and eroding dirt slopes along First Street at the railroad undercrossing (between Standard and Grand avenues). The construction project includes the installation of decorative concrete along the slopes near the railroad undercrossing, new security fencing, and a stormwater treatment device. The goal of the project is to improve water quality and address stormwater pollution via the stabilization of the dirt slopes. The project will also significantly enhance the aesthetics of this important gateway to Downtown Santa Ana. This is one of the first areas in the city that I toured when I started as a councilmember; I’m glad to see the City investing in our infrastructure to make our public spaces better for everyone.
Construction contract approved for the Safe Routes to School Davis Elementary Access Compliance Project
The City Council also awarded a construction contract for the Safe Routes to School Davis Elementary Access Compliance project in the French Court neighborhood. The purpose of the project is to increase safety and convenience for pedestrians that utilize this corridor, primarily students. Work activities include removing and replacing driveways, sidewalks, and curb ramps, and removing some asphalt roadway sections to build concrete build-outs to encourage slower traffic speeds.
City Council amends Tree Maintenance Contract to expand services
In Santa Ana, we take pride in our trees. The City Council acknowledges this as a priority. Accordingly, we recently expanded our agreement with West Coast Arborists (our contracted arborist) to enhance the following services: routine grid trimming, pruning additional trees, and emergency response efforts during and after windstorm events.
City Council reduces Home Occupation Permit Fee for home-based businesses
The Santa Ana Municipal Code requires that every business operating from residential premises within the City secure a Home Occupation Permit and pay a fee. Since the original establishment of a Home Occupation Permit in 1982, home-based businesses and the gig economy have grown significantly, especially in recent years. Over the passage of time, the fee charged for a permit has increased in tandem with the similar Certificate of Occupancy fee. As an equity measure, I was proud to vote to approve a decrease in the Home Occupation Permit fee from $320 to $50.32—a decrease of $269.68. I wish the best to those who are seeking to establish their own home-based business!
City submits grant application for the Santa Ana Zoo Stormwater Capture and Diversion Project
The City recently submitted a grant application for the Santa Ana Zoo Stormwater Capture and Diversion Project. The project includes construction of subsurface stormwater infiltration systems at the Santa Ana Zoo. The project is designed to capture and infiltrate approximately 67 acre-feet per year of stormwater and dry-weather runoff to help improve water quality in the Newport Bay Watershed, increase local water supplies, and reduce flooding downstream. The project will also include a new urban green space, bioswales, pervious pavement, seating, drought tolerant landscaping and shade trees, and interpretive signage promoting watershed and water quality education to Zoo visitors. Of note, Caltrans is contributing $1,250,000 as a project partner.
City Council explores transparency in labor negotiations
At the December 20 meeting, the City Council discussed ways to increase transparency in labor negotiations. This discussion came about as a result of a policy discussion that I introduced back in October when I publicly shared my belief that at least one, but possibly more, members of the Santa Ana City Council had been leaking confidential closed session information to the Association President of the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, Gerry Serrano. I stand firm in by belief that the action of leaking confidential information shared during closed session meetings undermines the good faith labor negotiations of the City, is a violation of the oaths of office of the councilmembers engaging in this activity, and is possibly illegal. These actions directly contradict their official duties as councilmembers. During out most recent conversations, the City Council decided to maintain status quo by not adjusting our policies or procedures relating to labor negotiations.
City Council implements last, best and final offer for Santa Ana Police Officers Association
Like most local governments, many of the City of Santa Ana’s employees are represented by employee bargaining groups. From time to time, the City enters into negotiations with each of the bargaining groups. These negotiations are documented in Memorandums of Understanding (or “MOU” for short). In the spirit of openness, you can find all of the MOUs between the City and our various employee bargaining groups on our website.
Recently, during the course of negotiations between the City and the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, the Santa Ana Police Officers Association demonstrated regressive bargaining and dilatory tactics, repudiated to engage and discuss the City’s priorities, and failed to comprehensively respond to the City’s request for information.
As authorized by Government Code section 3505.7, the City Council implemented the City’s last, best and final offer dated September 8, 2022 to the Santa Ana Police Officers Association.
I encourage Ward 3 residents to be informed and read factual information. You can read the full details of this matter on our website.
City receives award for the Lincoln Avenue Pedestrian Pathway Project
The American Public Works Association of Southern California recently awarded the City of Santa Ana with a Project of the Year Award for the Lincoln Avenue Pedestrian Pathway Project. The project includes the permanent closure of Fairhaven Railroad Crossing at Lincoln Avenue. This project reestablishes pedestrian and bicyclist access to the west side of the tracks from Park Lane to Santiago Creek in the Santa Ana. Community input helped bring various improvements, including a 12-foot wide pedestrian pathway, landscaping, irrigation, lighting, fencing and wall barriers between the railroad and pathway separation. This $1.2 million project helps facilitate mobility, decreases pedestrian travel distances, and provides safer and shorter routes to school for children.
Roller skates now available at the Library
Roller skating is making a big comeback with a billion plus views on TikTok’s #rollerskating pages. Library patrons can borrow a pair of roller skates free of charge! As part of our Library of Things (LOT) collection, roller skates are available in various sizes and colors for all ages. In addition, you can also check out protective gear such as helmets, elbow and knee pads. All you need is a valid library card, and you will be cruising to your next destination.
A special thanks to the Youth Commission for their advocacy and engagement to bring this service to the Library.
For more information, please contact the Library at (714) 647-5250.
Sign up to receive updates on the Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Eviction Ordinance
The amended Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Eviction Ordinance that took effect on November 18, 2022, expands the administration and enforcement of renter protections for Santa Ana residents by establishing a rental housing board and a rental registry program. The amended Ordinance also includes additional petitions for tenants and landlords, voluntary mediation services, and other enhancements. The full ordinance, a detailed summary of changes and answers to Frequently Asked Questions in English, Spanish and Vietnamese are available on our website.
Ride OC Bus for free on New Year’s Eve!
The Orange County Transportation Authority is offering free bus rides to everyone today, so make sure you have responsible travel plans tonight when celebrating!
The City of Santa Ana employs over 1,400 employees who work hard every day to deliver efficient public services in partnership with our community. We strive to ensure public safety, a prosperous economic environment, opportunities for our youth, and a high quality of life for residents. We’re always hiring–full-time, part-time, limited-term, and intern positions. Check out our job opportunities and see what we have to offer–and if you think you’re qualified, are a good fit, and are passionate about public service in Santa Ana, consider applying for a position!
Apply to serve on the Personnel Board
Do you have experience in Human Resources? If yes, are you interested in serving on a City board that hears personnel matters such as discipline? The Ward 3 representative is vacant and I’m looking to fill the position. If you’re interested, consider applying.