Dear Ward 3,
This Thanksgiving, we celebrate this beautiful city, Santa Ana, and we share with you in giving thanks. I hope you and your family are enjoying quality time together today and over the long weekend. I can’t help but feel the warmth and excitement as I walk and drive through the various Ward 3 neighborhoods and see your holiday decorations. Today, I’m also mindful of our Native American community, their loss, and their resilience.
As you think about Thanksgiving and what it means to you, I encourage you to also think about gratitude–not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. For me, I have a lot to be grateful for. For example, I’m really looking forward to spending this holiday weekend with my family that I don’t get to see too often. I’m also grateful that I have the opportunity to serve as your councilmember. Additionally, I’m thankful for for the City of Santa Ana employees who work hard every day to keep our City operations running for all of you.
In case you have some free time to read this weekend, here’s the Ward 3 monthly newsletter with news, updates, and more. If you see a topic that you would like to learn more about, or if you have a topic that you would like me to feature in an upcoming newsletter, please email me at email@example.com.
Councilwoman Jessie Lopez
Ward 3 highlights
Santiago Park clean-up with OC Habitats
I had the opportunity of collaborating with OC Habitats to host another park clean-up at Santiago Park back in October and earlier this month. The Youth Action Team, along with Parks and Recreation Commissioner Herrera, were in attendance to help. The team removed lots of glass, cigarette butts, foam, and microplastics from the park and creek to ensure that they don’t end up in the ocean.
Learn more about OC Habitats
Greenleaf Street sewer improvements to continue through January 2023
Construction alert: The contractor who is overseeing the sewer improvement project along Greenleaf Street is making great progress and has installed a substantial amount of water and sewer infrastructure since work began a couple of months ago. Additionally, concrete street replacement work is upcoming. Construction for this project has been tentatively scheduled to conclude in January 2023.
- During sewer and water main upgrade, street parking will be prohibited from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- During concrete street work, on-street access and parking may be prohibited for up to a week.
For parking accommodations, residents on Greenleaf Street between 17th and 19th streets can contact Alex Olmos at (714) 647-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Public Works projects
Proclamation recognizing Working Wardrobes’ meaningful work
I presented a proclamation to recognize Working Wardrobes for all their work and meaningful impact on Santa Ana and Orange County. Working Wardrobes is in its 32nd year of providing services to Orange County, having served over 115,000 clients to assist them on their journey to meaningful employment. Their services include comprehensive and impactful workforce and life skills training, job placement assistance, and professional wardrobe services. Their goal is to help every client build skills and confidence to stabilize their lives and help them find meaningful employment. Thank you to Working Wardrobes for all that you do and thank you for having me at your gala.
Learn more about Working Wardrobes
Family Fun Day resource event with The Cambodian Family
It was a privilege participating at the Family Fun Day resource event with The Cambodian Family! The event provided the community an opportunity to enjoy food, fun activities, vaccines, and more! Thank you to The Cambodian Family and all of the volunteers that helped put this event together.
Visit The Cambodian Family’s website
Santiago Elementary School’s Speech and Debate Team receives recognition at City Council meeting
At the October 18, 2022 City Council meeting, I recognized the Santiago Elementary Speech and Debate Team for their amazing achievement of placing first overall in the California Small Schools Division. This group of students were all first-year speech and debate competitors and tackled topics that ranged from informative to storytelling and prose. Join me in congratulating our young scholars: Amelie Jaspard, Leila Parra, Julia Nguyen, Damian Dominguez, Esmee Gallucci, and Wyatt Malfavon.
Mitzi Abasto recognized as Miss Volunteer Santa Ana
Earlier this month, Ms. Mitzi Abasto joined my colleagues and I at our City Council meeting to receive a special recognition for her role as Miss Volunteer Santa Ana for 2022. Mitzi comes from a family of Bolivian immigrants and has been living in Santa Ana since she was two years old. She is a proud alumni of the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s degree in Genetics and Genomics and a minor in public health. Mitzi works as a community advocate at a nonprofit organization here in Santa Ana. As part of her Miss Volunteer Santa Ana designation, Mitzi selected “Planting a Seed of Hope” as her platform. Planting a Seed of Hope focuses on mental health awareness and education.
Keep up the great work, Mitzi!
Ugochi Nicholson recognized for contributing to the community
I had the pleasure of recognizing Ugochi Nicholson for her outstanding contributions to our community through her service at the Public Law Center. Nicholson served as the Directing Attorney of the Housing Unit at the Public Law Center for six years, providing direct legal assistance to low-income residents who reside in Santa Ana. Her service has gone far beyond the courtroom. It was an honor to Mrs. Nicholson at our September 6 City Council meeting.
Latino Health acess hosts their 29th annual awards celebration gala
Each year, the local nonprofit organization Latino Health Access hosts a gala to celebrate their efforts to acknowledge their community impact. This year’s gala was extremely meaningful as Latino Health Access celebrated their community and their fight for a community center and park. What was once an empty dirt lot is now a beautiful safe place where families can gather, play, and learn.
After many years of community organizing and advocacy, and with the leadership of Mayor Sarmiento, Latino Health Access successfully entered into an agreement with the City of Santa Ana to help bring their vision to life: opening the Familias Corazones Verdes Park to life. Today, hundreds of families enjoy movie nights, arts and crafts, jewelry making, music therapy, and many more activities for the growth and healing of the spirit, mind, and body. There is beautiful greenery throughout the park, along with two playgrounds, all of which is maintained by volunteers and the community Comité de Familias Corazones Verdes.
Congratulations to all the parents, organizers, and partners involved in fighting for this park and for bringing positive change to Santa Ana families! Thank you.
Learn more about Latino Health Access
Business highlight: Bari Pasta & Pizza
Earlier this year, Mayor Sarmiento and I toured local businesses in Ward 3 to say hello and to recognize them for being part of the business community. This month, we visited Bari Pasta & Pizza located at 1640 E 1st Street, a family-owned Italian restaurant that prides itself on providing great-tasting home-made Italian food at a reasonable price. If you’re on East First Street and looking for a place to eat, consider stopping by!
Nicholas Academic Centers’ 14th annual Thanksgiving dinner
This week, I attended and spoke at the Nicholas Academic Centers’ 14th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration. Nicholas Academic Centers (or “NAC” for short) is an after-school tutoring and mentoring program that started here in Santa Ana. The centers are a safe and nurturing place where high school students can seek academic services, emotional support, mentoring and social services as they prepare to pursue their educational goals at an institution of higher learning.
Established in 2008 by Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, III, in partnership with retired Judge Jack K. Mandel, the NAC strives to provide academic assistance, social services, cultural enrichment programs, college connection opportunities, and need based scholarship opportunities for students who meet the program requirements. With highly qualified staff in Academics, Higher Education, and Social Services, students have access to the resources necessary to graduate from high school and continue onto college. The NAC provides continued support and services to its graduates during the college years to ensure students graduate from college.
Learn more about the Nicholas Academic Centers
Santa Ana high school football
I had an awesome time attending a football game at my alma mater: Santa Ana High School. While at the game, I had the pleasure of meeting the band director for Willard and Lathrop Intermediate Schools.
Go Saints! And Go Jaguars!
Fun fact about me: I played the flute and snare drums for three years.
Installation of lighting at Mabury Park
I noticed that the gazebo at Mabury Park didn’t have any lighting. The gazebo seemed dim during the daytime–and especially at night. To increase visibility and usability of the space, our team installed lighting underneath the gazebo. If the gazebo lighting is too bright, please let me know! You can email me at email@example.com.
Santa Ana Active Streets (SAAS) and the Willard Neighborhood Association team up for safe streets
Mini-grant awardee Santa Ana Active Streets (SAAS) and the Willard Neighborhood Association brought together more than 600 residents to experience streets redesigned for safety at the Willard Safe Streets event, providing free incentives like gift cards, bike helmets and water bottles. This event also created space for folks to provide input on traffic safety concerns, along with ideas for a future park at a nearby empty lot. Willard Safe Streets was part of the SAAS Speaker Series, which brings policy-level discussions about transportation to people-centered spaces in Santa Ana. Great job everyone!
Learn more about Willard Safe Streets
Working on pedestrian and traffic safety near Jefferson Elementary School
With guidance provided by the Joint School Collaboration City Council Subcommittee (a standing subcommittee of the Santa Ana City Council and the Santa Ana Unified School District Governing Board), our Public Works team quickly addressed pedestrian and traffic safety concerns at Jefferson Elementary School. Specifically, we installed striping along Rita Way to prohibit drivers from stopping in front of driveways and from making “U” turns. Additionally, a crossing guard is scheduled to be on duty temporarily through the end of the school year. In the future, this intersection will be evaluated once the school district completes school improvements.
This is a great example of how collaboration between the City and school district can help improve our neighborhoods. City staff will continue to work with our partners at the school district to continue improving pedestrian and traffic safety opportunities around the school.
We’re expanding: outdoor library coming to Jerome Park
Back in September, the City Council approved an agreement with PlaceWorks, a design consulting firm with offices in Santa Ana, to kickstart the arrival of a new, outdoor library at Jerome Park. The City’s Library and Public Works Agency will oversee the development of an innovative library that will feature educational, technological, and play-focused library kiosks with surrounding outdoor learning areas. Currently, we have two libraries: the Main Library in the Civic Center / Downtown area and the Newhope Library on the west side. One of my priorities has been to expand our libraries to have more services available to everyone in our city–and this is one step in the right direction. Stay tuned for more updates on improvements to the library’s service delivery.
Visit the Santa Ana Public Library’s Website
City to increase landscape services through 2024
The City Council recently approved an amendment to the agreement with our existing contractor, Landscape West Management Services, to enhance the maintenance of landscaping in the public right-of-way (such as parks, medians, bike/pedestrian paths, etc.).
Santa Ana establishes sister city partnership with Sahuayo, Mexico
Last month, we celebrated our new sister city relationship with Sahuayo, Mexico. To commemorate the occasion, we held a ceremonial signing of the sister city resolution that was unanimously approved by the City Council on October 4. We were joined by Sahuayo Mayor Dr. Manuel Gálvez Sánchez, Sahuayo Councilmembers, Mexican Consul Audrey Rivera Gomez, and members of the Santa Ana-based Fundación Sahuayo.
City Council meeting agenda items highlights
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.
At the November 15 meeting, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance establishing Santa Ana’s first Police Oversight Commission. Generally, the ordinance creates a seven-member commission to receive, hear, and review complaints alleging misconduct of a Santa Ana police officer. Additionally, the ordinance establishes an Independent Oversight Director to independently conduct investigations. You can read the Police Oversight Commission ordinance for more details.
Good news! The City Council recently approved a construction contract to build Class II buffered bike lanes, drainage upgrades, sidewalks, an intersection for pedestrian crossing, signing, and striping. Once complete, the newly constructed bike lane and sidewalk will enhance bicyclist and
pedestrian safety, provide access and connections to schools, parks, commercial centers, and residential centers, and encourage more walking and cycling in the community.
Working cross-jurisdictionally to solve problems works–and here’s an example. Back in July of this year, the Santa Ana Unified School District Governing Board approved the City’s offer to purchase the property where the Santa Ana Water Tower is located (the City owns the water tower and the school district has owned the land where the water tower stands) for $781,000. Closing costs and escrow fees are anticipated to cost approximately $79,000, bringing the total estimated purchase to $860,000. By owning the land, the City will be better equipped to ensure the integrity of our vital water system.
At the October 4 City Council meeting, I introduced the following discussion item: Discuss and Provide Direction to the City Manager and City Attorney to Report to the City Council What is Necessary to Adopt a Policy to Move all Santa Ana Police Officers Association Contract Negotiations into a Public Forum. At this meeting, I publicly shared that I believe that at least one, but possibly more members of the current Santa Ana City Council are leaking
confidential closed session information to the Association President of the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, Gerry Serrano. Closed session refers to confidential meetings of the City Council, whereby the City may, pursuant to state law, discuss limited matters behind closed doors for the benefit of the City and the public. An example of a matter that can be discussed in closed session is labor negotiations.
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.
At the conclusion of this meeting, there was a consensus among the majority of the City Council to have City staff return to the City Council with options. to have labor negotiations be discussed publicly instead of during closed session meetings. Stay tuned for updates.
About our City Council meetings
City Council meetings are typically held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, with the closed session beginning at 5 p.m. or earlier. The open meeting session begins at 5:45 p.m. Meetings have both in-person and virtual participation and attendance and are live streamed on the City’s YouTube channel and our TV channel, CTV3 (channel 3 on Spectrum.) If you’d like to provide public comments on agenda and non-agenda items, you can email, attend in person, or join the Zoom webinar online or by phone.
Holiday Trunk Show to benefit Concern America – Saturday, December 3
Come support health care, clean water, education, and income generation in more than 1,000 communities in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, all while doing your holiday shopping. Nine vendors, including numerous Floral Park vendors, will be offering beautiful handcrafted items.
Date: Saturday, December 3
Time: 2 to 6:30 p.m.
Location: 2020 Victoria Drive, Santa Ana, CA 92706
Santa Ana College Fall Performances – now through December 4
Santa Ana College’s Fine and Performing Arts Division has released their Fall 2022 Season schedule! Visit their website for full details and to buy tickets.
Ride of Lights – Friday, December 9
Join Santa Ana Active Streets (SAAS) on Friday, December 9 beginning at 5 p.m. at The Bicycle Tree, located at 702 W 17th Street, Unit C, for their Ride of Lights, a family cycling event. Deck your bikes with holiday lights and get into the Autumn spirit with SAAS as they ride through the neighborhoods of Santa and enjoy the decorated holiday houses! Savor some warm tamales and hot chocolate at the midway pit stop in Downtown Santa Ana!
This is a free family-friendly, slow-paced event. A short route (three miles) and longer route (five miles) will be available. SAAS is offering free spoke lights for the first 20 people who register and arrive! On that note, registration is required. Bring donations for our toy drive! Youth ages 17 and younger will need an adult guardian to sign a waiver.
Friday, December 9
The Bicycle Tree
702 W 17th Street, Unit C
Santa Ana, CA 92706
For more information, contact Dorian Romero (714) 340-5186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tree lighting at the Santa Ana Winter Village – Saturday, December 10
Join us for the official grand opening of the second annual Winter Village in Santa Ana! The outdoor ice-skating rink and village open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10. Find special performances by the Anaheim Ducks, food by Northgate Market, holiday vendors, and much more throughout the day. Come visit Santa at 4 p.m. and see the official Santa Ana Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5 p.m.
General admission into the Winter Village is free of charge. Outdoor ice-skating reservations can be purchased online. Go to the Winter Village website for more information on full month-long event details, directions, parking and other activities.
Visit the Winter Village Website.
Water Bill Assistance Program
The federally-funded Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) provides a one-time benefit of up to $2,000 to cover past-due drinking water, wastewater/sewer, and/or stormwater costs for eligible, low-income customers. Community Action Partnership of Orange County is currently taking applications.
California Mortgage Relief Program
Homeowners may be eligible for mortgage relief funds if they have missed payments for their primary residence, faced a financial hardship during the pandemic and are at or below 100 percent of their county’s Area Median Income. Funds awarded to qualified homeowners through this program will be given directly to their mortgage servicers and do not need to be repaid.