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Ward 3 Newsletter: May 2024

Posted on May 30, 2024


May 2024

As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” Just as May brings the beauty of blooming flowers, it also brings the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the dedication of our public employees during Public Service Recognition Week. With this in mind, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all our dedicated public employees for their unwavering commitment to provide services to the community. Amidst the challenges we face, our City employees continue to exemplify professionalism, uphold their principles, and stay focused on the noble purpose behind their work: serving our constituents. Whether it’s advocating for affordable housing, championing equitable policies, or aiding in responsible decision-making, their dedication and courage as public servants are invaluable to our city. Check out this video from a celebration luncheon we hosted to recognize our employees. 

There is a lot going on in May. This month, we don’t just celebrate our public employees, teachers, the AAPI community, Jewish Community, Bike Month, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, nurses, and other celebrations and recognitions. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month – when we take time to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. Remember, support is available. If you or someone you know is in need of help, consider reaching out to the Crisis Services Center of Orange County, your medical provider, or a mental health professional. 

I will close out May by spending time with my family and celebrating our 2024 graduates! 

In this edition of our Ward 3 newsletter, you will find a recap of significant updates for our city, such as recent community engagement activities, updates on various projects, and more. 

Stay tuned for more updates and events as we continue to strengthen the bonds that make Ward 3 a truly special place.

In service,

Councilwoman Jessie Lopez 

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Ward 3 Highlights

OC Habitats Recognized for Environmental Justice Work

OC Habitats OC Habitats

I’m delighted to spotlight OC Habitats, a steadfast partner in our mission for environmental justice and the protection of public lands. Their hands-on approach, from pulling weeds to educating our community under the scorching sun, embodies their dedication to preserving our natural spaces. Together, we’ve organized park clean-ups in Ward 3 to reinforce our commitment to keeping our neighborhoods clean and green.

Join me in extending heartfelt appreciation to OC Habitats for their invaluable contributions. Their vision and hard work exemplify the spirit of environmental stewardship and make a tangible difference in our shared pursuit of a healthier, more sustainable future.

New Amenities at Riverview Park

Riverview Park

Under my leadership, we’ve enhanced Riverview Park with new bathrooms, a refurbished basketball court (using Measure X dollars), fresh rubber surfacing at the playground (also funded by Measure X), lighting, and more! A big thank you to our Public Works staff for their commitment to enhancing our community. We hope you’re enjoying these new amenities. If you encounter any issues with the park, please let us know!

Santiago Park Clean-Up

Santiago Park Clean-Up

Partnering with OC Habitats, students delved into the world of Black Mustard, an invasive plant growing in our creek. These plants spread rapidly, outcompeting native flora and hindering their growth. With its dense microbial root layer, Black Mustard poses a serious threat to biodiversity by choking out other plants. By removing these invaders, we’re safeguarding our delicate habitats from their grasp.

A huge thank you to our dedicated volunteers, OC Habitats, Community Representative Valerie Magdaleno, and our Parks Commissioner Roberto Herrera. I hope to see you all next week at our park clean-up.

City of Santa Ana Receives $75,000 Grant from Kaiser Permanente for Swimming Lessons

Congratulations to the Parks and Recreation team for being selected to receive a $75,000 Operation Splash grant from Kaiser Permanente. The Operation Splash grant provides 800 scholarships for Santa Ana learn-to-swim lessons for low-income youth and adults. The grant will also provide 400 free recreational swim passes for qualifying families and will give greater access to the aquatics facilities for 300 Silver swimmers who are participating in the senior aquatics programs. In addition, 20 youths/teens will be able to participate in free lifeguard training with the grant.

More information: 

City of Santa Ana Receives Nearly $2.8 Million State Coastal Conservancy Grant for Santiago Park

Conservancy Grant for Santiago Park

Our Public Works Parks team was successful – yet again – and received a grant award from the California Coastal Conservancy Commission for up to $2.8 million to enhance and restore 2.66 acres of Santiago Park. The construction project will completely renovate the west side of the park near Main Street and include new lighting, creek viewing decks, landscape improvements, and new separate pedestrian walkways and bike trails to allow for safe recreation.

Our City staff presented a resolution to the City Council just last month to officially accept the grant funds. Now, the State will follow up with an award letter that will allow us to begin the project. Very exciting! Stay tuned for updates.

Six New Tenants at MainPlace Mall 

MainPlace Mall has six new tenants who signed leases. Cali Licious Crab and Brews is a new restaurant and bar offering Mex-Cajun-style food and micheladas. Yogurt Bear is a self-serve shop offering plant-based yogurt in a variety of flavors. Fiesta Center sells event décor such as marquee letters, party favors, candy table stands, and event furniture rentals, and provides venue consulting services. LA Custom Apparel provides embroidery services for men’s, women’s and children’s apparel. The Hyper Makers Market is a collection of maker booths that includes apparel, handmade goods, home décor and artisan foods. Delight sells baklavas and Middle Eastern lokums. We look forward to supporting their business and their success at MainPlace Mall.

Mariachi Los Astros 

Mariachi Los Astros

SAUSD Board President Carolyn Torres and I were delighted to congratulate the Carr Mariachi Astros on their outstanding achievement of first-place recognition from CABE, celebrating their remarkable talent and dedication.

We engaged in meaningful discussions about our shared commitment to representing Santa Ana families on our respective boards. We deeply value our connection with our students, as well as the tireless efforts of our dedicated teachers, mentors, and administrators within our community. Congratulations Carr Astros!

The City of Santa Ana Continues to Have a Low Unemployment Rate!

The Employment Development Department (EDD)’s Labor Market Division released updated statistics on the City of Santa Ana’s labor force. Santa Ana’s workforce continues to perform well with a Civilian labor force of 156,900, employment of 151,000, and unemployment of 5,900 (equating to a 3.8% unemployment rate). The City’s 3.8% unemployment rate is 6th lowest in the state and lower than the statewide unemployment rate of 5.0%.

Cryoport Inc. Expands into Santa Ana

Cryoport Inc., a provider of cold-chain logistic services for the biopharmaceutical industry, is planning a major expansion of its Orange County operations into Santa Ana.  The company, valued at $660 million, has entered into a 10-year lease and is set to relocate to a 92,000 sq. ft. facility at 1720 E. Garry Ave. by the beginning of 2025. The new location is just a few blocks away from their current site in Irvine. Cryoport, with approximately 135 local employees, intends to transfer all of them to the new Santa Ana facility upon its opening. The company also plans to double the number of employees in the first two years at the new Santa Ana facility. Our Economic Development staff has already reached out to Cryoport to provide contact information to City representatives if any issues come up during their relocation.

Willard Neighborhood Gets a New, Colorful Crosswalk 

Willard Neighborhood Gets a New, Colorful Crosswalk

I was ecstatic to help unveil the newest colorful crosswalk in the Willard neighborhood! These colorful crosswalks grab drivers’ attention, encouraging them to slow down and pay closer attention to pedestrians crossing the street. The vibrant hues create a visual contrast against the road, making the crosswalks more noticeable and increasing driver awareness. Studies have shown that these eye-catching designs can effectively reduce car speeds and lower the risk of accidents at pedestrian crossings.

This project was two years in the making with Santa Ana Active Streets (or “SAAS” for short), and I couldn’t be more proud to see it come to life. It’s even more special to me because this is the neighborhood I grew up in and I’m proud to give back to my community. I’m equally proud of the residents for envisioning something new and making it happen. Shout out to Kris Fortín, Dorian Romero, Maria Baeza, neighborhood leader Irene Cabana, our amazing Public Works department, all the residents involved in this vision, the artist Cynthia Lujan, and Councilmember Johnathan Ryan Hernandez. I deeply appreciate their efforts and support in realizing a vision of safety proven to work.

Banner Year in Construction in Santa Ana for 2023

Banner Year in Construction

I am excited to share that the City’s Planning and Building Agency had a banner year in construction permits issued in 2023. Specifically, the Building Safety Division issued over 9,500 building permits with a construction valuation of over $770 million. In the ten previous years, the City averaged $350 million each year in construction valuation of permits issued–and this past year the City more than doubled the average. The projects that were issued last year include large projects such as The Warner, 4th & Mortimer, The Legado at the Met, Central Pointe, and Third & Broadway. Many of these projects have been in development for several years and our staff’s dedication to facilitating the development process, including keeping our public counters and field inspection services open during the COVID-19 pandemic, has significantly aided in moving these projects to the finish line. All of our permitted projects represent great investments into our community, creating jobs, increasing our tax base, and driving our City’s future economic growth and prosperity. Congratulations to our Planning and Building Agency for a very successful year. 

Local Coffee Shop Corazon Coffee Celebrates their One-Year Anniversary 

Corazon Coffee

Happy one-year anniversary to Corazon Coffee Bar in Santa Ana! Congratulations on reaching this incredible milestone. Thank you for not only creating a thriving business, but for also fostering a space where the community can gather and connect. Here’s to many more years of delicious coffee and cherished moments!

New Bike and Pedestrian Path Makes Friendship Park More Accessible

New Bike and Pedestrian Path Makes Friendship Park More Accessible

I’m very proud of the partnership between OC Public Works and the City of Santa Ana that brought this new bike path to Jerome Park and Monroe Elementary School. Working together, we used this as an opportunity to update Friendship Park’s Playground and the Bikeway for a new generation of kids. This couldn’t have been done without the robust partnership between City staff, County staff, and the Office of Supervisor Sarmiento. Thanks to their efforts, Santa Ana families have a new safe path to ride their bikes or walk to Monte Vista and Jerome Park in what used to be a closed-off flood control channel. 

Neighborhood Meetings

Neighborhood Meetings

I remain actively involved in our neighborhood meetings to address inquiries about the budget, provide updates on neighborhood developments, and any other topics raised by our residents. As well as facilitating discussions on the parking permit roadshow, a public works initiative on revamping the permit-parking program to seek community input, comments, and suggestions that will define the new program. We recently engaged the communities of Portola Park, Meredith Parkwood, Young Square, Woodlyn North, Grand, Mabury Park, and Park Santiago. I extend our gratitude to the residents for their participation and willingness to on-going feedback to improve their neighborhoods.

Peking Kitchen Recognition 

Peking Kitchen Recognition

Celebrating over 34 years, Peking Kitchen is a cherished local spot in Santa Ana’s Ward 3. I fondly remember walking here with my family for special occasions, savoring the delicious menu that made every visit a treat. My family and I have beautiful memories here and we remain loyal customers. I’m honored to recognize our local businesses and their cultural richness in Santa Ana. I invite you to experience the cozy charm of Peking Kitchen.

Safe Street and Roads Grant Program

I continue to monitor the funding opportunities made available to our city by the federal government. Earlier this year, I requested that our public works department look at the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program, which is dedicated to supporting the redesign of local infrastructure to create traffic safety as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. These funds can be used to improve street and road safety and reduce the reliance on police enforcement. The program also provides support for planning (anywhere from $100,000 to $10 million in grant funding) and implementation ($2.5 to $25 million in grant funding) to address significant roadway safety concerns and prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. Our office will keep you informed on the progress. 

Dia del Niño with the Santa Ana Public Library 

Dia del Niño with the Santa Ana Public Library

I recently had the privilege of joining our public library to celebrate El Día del Niño. It was an opportunity to emphasize the critical role of childhood development and literacy, and to underscore the significance of supporting public institutions that enrich countless lives. Early childhood learning and reading are the cornerstones of our existence, laying the groundwork for lifelong success. That’s why I’m a staunch advocate for our “education first” motto — it’s not just a slogan, but a commitment to nurturing the minds of future generations.

Happy Cambodian New Year! សួស្ដីឆ្នាំថ្មី! 🇰🇭

Happy Cambodian New Year

As we celebrate the Cambodian New Year, I’m filled with gratitude for our vibrant community and the incredible team at the Cambodian Family Center. A huge thanks to Ravi, Vatana, Amina, and the entire team for their tireless dedication to preserving and sharing Cambodian traditions.

Beyond that, thank you for taking such good care of our community. From healthcare initiatives to educational programs, our office is committed to supporting our diverse community every step of the way. Wishing everyone a joyous Cambodian New Year! 🎊

Monroe Elementary Celebrates their 50th Anniversary 

Monroe Elementary Celebrates their 50th Anniversary

Monroe Elementary School, founded in 1915, faced closure in 1971 due to earthquake concerns. But in 1972, a new Monroe rose, and in 1973, it opened its doors once again. Today, as it marks its 50th anniversary, Monroe stands tall, a beacon of strength in the Delhi neighborhood. A huge thanks to Dr. Duran, the staff, and all the families who took part in this journey. Here’s to 50 more years of excellence and the celebration of another community garden in our public schools. Many thanks to Trustee Bustos for always being present in our community. 

Nicholas Academic Center Ringing of the Bell Celebration!

Nicholas Academic Center Ringing of the Bell Celebration! Nicholas Academic Center Ringing of the Bell Celebration!

Our Nicholas Academic Center (NAC) students are being accepted all over the country! 🔔 To commemorate the arrival of acceptance letters, I joined the incredible and dedicated NAC 1 staff and students. I am overflowing with pride for our seniors as they embark on their journey toward higher education. My advice to you all is this: embrace the experience, dive deep into your studies, and remember that success is a marathon, not a sprint. Many of you are trailblazers, breaking through barriers and paving the way for your families’ brighter futures. I wish each and every one of you nothing but the best, and I extend my heartfelt gratitude for representing our city with such distinction.

Fat of the Land Grand Opening 

Fat of the Land Grand Opening

I was thrilled to join the grand opening of Fat of the Land! Taking inspiration from the charming small places of Europe, Fat of the Land in Downtown Santa Ana offers a menu infused with modern twists and a cozy, lux ambiance. I’m proud to stand behind our newest local business and wish them boundless success. Join me in supporting Fat of the Land and savoring their delightful menu!

Santa Ana High School Girls Wrestling Team

Santa Ana High School Girls Wrestling Team

Congratulations Santa Ana Girls Wrestling Team on becoming the 2024 CIF Runner-Up team and Qualifying for State! As alumni of Santa Ana High School, Councilmember Hernandez and I are immensely proud to witness our fellow Saints breaking barriers and bringing pride to our city. It’s historic for the Santa Ana High School Girls Wrestling team to secure the first CIF TEAM Plaque at the CIF Championships.

Having overcome similar challenges ourselves, we deeply admire your optimism, commitment, and hard work. Wrestling undoubtedly ranks among the toughest sports, and we extend sincere thanks to the dedicated coaches, administrative staff, and their families for their unwavering support. Despite the adversities many students face, their perseverance continues to inspire us. We are exceptionally proud of our girls for their resilience and dedication. Go, Saints!

New Bus Shelter at Santa Ana College

bus shelter

The Santa Ana College bus stop on Bristol has been replaced. This stop’s annual ridership is 89,179, making it one of the busiest in the county. According to Census data, about 20,078 residents don’t own a car, so making sure our bus stops are accessible, clean, inclusive, and safe for our residents is important. Both stops are solar-powered with storage batteries to power the advertising panel and the security lights. We’ll keep enhancing bus stops to meet the needs of our residents who rely on public transit.

Grand Central Art Center: LA Times Story

Grand Central Art Center: LA Times Story

I’m so proud to see our amazing Grand Central Art Center being featured in the LA Times! Writer Sarah Mosqueda just wrote a thoughtful review of the current Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) Grand Central Art Center project by artist Hings Lim titled Specter in the Gate. The project was based upon the 1906 burning of Santa Ana’s Chinatown. 

I thought you might enjoy the review, so I am sharing the article link with you: 

Davis Elementary Career Day

Davis Elementary Career Day

I had a wonderful time at Davis Elementary School for Career Day with curious 4th- and 5th-graders who were eager to learn about the role of a council member. It’s crucial that young minds see themselves reflected in every corner of society, including local governance.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to inspire and be inspired by our future leaders. Thank you to Davis Elementary Administrators and teachers for hosting Career Day and inviting me to shed light on my journey as a councilwoman!

Santa Ana Resident Diego A. Sarmiento Selected as a Truman Scholar!

Santa Ana Resident Diego A. Sarmiento Selected as a Truman Scholar!







Ward 3 resident Diego A. Sarmiento has become the first Godinez High School graduate to be selected as a Truman Scholar by the Harry S. Truman Foundation, showcasing the strength of our public school system. The Truman Scholarship is the premier graduate scholarship for aspiring public service leaders in the United States.

Former Arizona Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, announced on April 12 that Mr. Sarmiento was one of 60 students from 54 U.S. colleges and universities selected for the honor. Congratulations Diego! 

City Awarded $1 Million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture 

Our Public Works Agency has recently been awarded $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service program through its Urban and Community Forestry program that provides funding to municipalities to plant and maintain trees, combat extreme heat and climate change, and improve access to nature in urban settings. 

The Urban and Community Forestry Program is the only program in the federal government dedicated to enhancing and expanding the nation’s urban forest resources. This is the largest USDA Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) investment to date in urban and community forests, making the City of Santa Ana’s winning proposal, from over 800 applications nationwide, even more noteworthy. 

The grant funding will be throughout five years ending in 2029 and will allow the City to accomplish the following:

  • Identify and remove hazardous trees that are in decline, diseased, and/or reached life expectancy (up to 300 removals)
  • Purchase and plant trees at a 2 to 1 ratio (up to 600 plantings) YAY!
  • Survey new potential valid planting sites to further expand urban forest
  • For compliance purposes, all work performed must occur within predetermined U.S. Census tracts

Tree Arborist Carefully Examines Carob Trees for Removal

The City’s arborists have passion and take great pride in caring for the City’s urban forest. Part of the natural process for trees is aging and as trees mature, they begin to decline naturally and also may contract diseases, are damaged by insects, do not fully mature due to vandalism or lack of water, and eventually result in poorly structured and potentially hazardous trees.

Our dedicated Certified Arborists and Certified Tree Risk Assessors have monitored and cared for the Carob tree species over a focused period of time and have determined that many Carob trees have reached the natural life age expectancy and are displaying many of the cautionary signs. As such and in the interest of public safety, they must be addressed by removal. Failure to remove known hazardous trees creates unsafe conditions, places the public at risk of injury and property damage loss, and makes the City potentially liable for damages or injury. The staff has programmed a phased approach to this safety mitigation effort and has implemented an immediate removal of trees that are considered hazardous trees and pose a risk to public and private property. 

 Phase 1 Carob tree removal includes: 

  • Washington Square (6 trees)
  • Wilshire Square (5 trees)
  • Park Santiago (3 trees)
  • West Floral Park (1 tree)
  • Madison Park (1 tree)
  • Heninger Park (1 tree)

17th Street Repaving and Repairs

17th Street Repaving and Repairs

The project to repave 17th Street from Fairview to Flower Street and reconstruct the damaged sidewalks, curbs and gutters, bus pads, and curb ramps along the way is almost finished! The project is in its final stages and we are happy to see its progress!

Thank you so much for your patience during this time. Check out the photos below to see our progress. 

New Socal Tree Program Will Pay You To Plant A Tree  

New Socal Tree Program Will Pay You To Plant A Tree

Thinking about starting a turf replacement project? You can now receive a $100 rebate per tree that gets planted for up to five trees planted while you replace your grass with a beautiful California Friendly® landscape. Don’t miss out, apply now and make your yard environmentally friendly while saving water and money!

Visit SoCal WaterSmart Website for information on how to apply.

This Latino-Owned Pizzeria in Santa Ana is Home to The TikTok-Famous Pizza Skull

This Latino-Owned Pizzeria in Santa Ana is Home to The TikTok-Famous Pizza Skull

Check out Santa Ana’s pizzeria, located in Ward 3, known for its pizza skulls…

Other Local Events

Resident Days at the Zoo • Third Sunday of each Month.

Bowers Museum Santa Ana Summer • Bowers Museum has expanded its free Sundays for Santa Ana residents to offer free admission every day through Sept. 8.

Discovery Cube Waste Free Days • Santa Ana residents get free admission to the Discovery Cube on the first Tuesday of the month.

Stay in the loop with our office! Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on our social media platforms. If you need assistance, please reach out directly via email at or by phone at (714) 822-0891. Thank you for staying connected with us. To access previous newsletters, please visit You are receiving this email because our records show that you reside in Ward 3 or because you have subscribed to Mayor Pro Tem Lopez’s newsletter. If you would like to opt-out of this newsletter, please email

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