Hello Ward 3 neighbors,
As we step into the pages of November, a new chapter unfolds in Ward 3 and our vibrant city. In this newsletter, we embark on a journey to share the latest happenings, upcoming events, and the remarkable initiatives championed by our community and office. While we cannot capture every detail, we are excited to present some of the highlights.
This Thanksgiving, I want to extend my appreciation to the amazing people who live here and for the many businesses, organizations, community groups, and other community partners who work hard to make Santa Ana a great place to live and work.
Together we take care of our city so it remains a beautiful, bright, thriving community for future generations. We don’t deny our challenges; we face them with concern and careful deliberation. We show our love for Santa Ana, and do it with kindness.
I am grateful for your partnership and for helping us strive for a good quality of life for our residents. For this, we can all be proud. I hope you enjoy tomorrow with your loved ones.
Remember, your engagement and feedback are invaluable to our office. Should you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thank you for taking the time to stay connected with us.
Mayor Pro Tem Jessie Lopez
Ward 3 Highlights
Gas House Project Grand Opening at Santiago Park
October 3 marked the official celebration of the unveiling of the new Gas House Project. I am well aware that this project has been highly anticipated by many and I want to express my gratitude for your patience and dedication in collaborating with our office. Being our eyes on the ground and flagging issues for us has been instrumental.
Growing up in the city, I have a deep emotional connection to the area, cherishing childhood memories of playing in the creek and in the park. It fills me with immense pride to be a part of the unveiling of the park’s impressive renovations. The enhancements include the installation of accessible concrete walkways throughout the park, a multi-level playground, group picnic areas, an amphitheater, riparian landscaping, renovated restrooms, and the restoration of the historic gas house.
All of this became a reality through the tireless efforts of our dedicated Public Works team, Parks and Recreation team, and invaluable grant funding provided by the California Coastal Conservancy.
Lincoln Avenue Pedestrian Pathway
A few weeks ago, our office received notice of an unfortunate incident that resulted in the destruction of one of the entrances to the Lincoln Pedestrian Pathway. Our team promptly responded by taking swift action to replace the gates. However, obtaining materials in the current market can be time-consuming, as soaring costs and increased demand have caused delays in numerous projects. Despite these challenges, we made every effort to replace the damaged gates as expeditiously as possible. We appreciate your understanding and are pleased to share the before-and-after images above.
Santiago Elementary Hosts Speedy Fun Run Fundraiser
Look at the awesome students and staff of Santiago Elementary and their fantastic Booster Club at the Speedy Fun Run! A huge congrats to the students and families who joined in – your energy inspired me to hit the track again!
Our kids were incredible and I had so much fun cheering them on! Thank you to the Booster Club for hosting, and a shout-out to local small business Coffee Muse for the early morning fuel!
Edna Park Neighborhood Dumpster Day
I organized another successful Dumpster Day at Edna Park and I extend my gratitude to our fantastic neighborhood leader, Shelley, who selflessly joined us in this endeavor, despite having recently undergone knee surgery (thank you, Shelley!). Together, we managed to fill two dumpsters, and we’re enthusiastic about the prospect of returning soon to continue to keep our neighborhoods clean and well-maintained!
We’re also working on park improvements. More to come!
Well 32 Project Update at Morrison Park
Last month I announced that the City awarded a construction contract to Pacific Hydrotech Corp. for the Well 32 Rehabilitation Project. Located at Morrison Park, Well 32 includes construction at the city street rights-of-way along Westwood Avenue, Memory Lane, and Bristol Street and at the John Garthe Reservoir site. The graphic above shows the project’s primary contacts, description, working hours, and overall schedule. The park will also receive renovations along with the construction of the new pipeline for the well. These improvements include the repair and resurfacing of the basketball and tennis courts, chain link fence, light poles with LED fixtures, new concrete walkways, and parking lot improvements. We appreciate your patience and cannot wait until the project is completed!
Another Santiago Park and Creek Clean-Up with OC Habitats
A heartfelt thank-you to the neighborhood and our incredible volunteers for their unwavering dedication to maintaining the cleanliness of our local parks and creek! Once again, we came together on November 8 for a successful park clean-up event with OC Habitats while enjoying the new additions at Santiago Park. I also want to express my gratitude to Parks Commissioner Roberto Herrera, who once again was instrumental in spearheading this clean-up event.
Substance Abuse Discussion with Local Youth
I had the honor of speaking to some of our community’s youth at the Cambodian Family’s Achievement Center. Engaging in substance abuse prevention discussions remains a core mission for me. Together, we’re committed to championing youth investments and fortifying prevention programs in our city. Gratitude towards The Cambodian Family, Elevate Youth California, Empowered Southeast Asian and Latinx Youth for Substance Abuse (ESALY), and a heartfelt shout-out to our incredible youth for hosting me.
Recognizing the City’s Housing Division
I recognized our City’s Housing Division for the incredible work they do for our residents. I recognized the 29 loyal and hardworking staff who work day in and day out to address the greatest need in our community. The Housing Division works tirelessly and many of these exemplary staff have dedicated up to 15, 20, and over 25 years of service to our community. I am grateful for these hardworking individuals.
Help Report Issues to Caltrans
We confront a multitude of challenges tied to Caltrans properties in Ward 3 and our office maintains an unwavering commitment to collaboratively address these issues alongside the Quality of Life Team (QOLT), Public Works Agency, and Code Enforcement Division. These concerns encompass the resolution of encampments, the repair of deteriorating chain link fences, and the persistent problem of accumulating debris.
Our relentless efforts involve the pursuit of a formal maintenance agreement that would grant us access to these properties for clean-up purposes, with the assurance of reimbursement to the City. I eagerly anticipate the forthcoming City Council deliberation and approval of this crucial initiative. Furthermore, I extend my gratitude to our dedicated staff for their tireless daily endeavors in tackling these pressing matters.
We encourage you to help us report issues in your neighborhood to Caltrans by visiting the Caltrans Report link below.
Investigative Hearing: Climate Resiliency in OC
I was invited to present our environmental justice work to Supervisor Foley and Supervisor Sarmiento at their investigative hearing on climate resilience in Orange County. The panel discussion included elected representatives from the cities of Santa Ana, Irvine, Laguna Beach, and Costa Mesa. We each shared the progress made on climate resilience planning locally, lessons learned, and made recommendations to the county. Many thanks to all the residents who came out to ask questions and learn about the work our community is doing in Santa Ana to ensure all communities are treated fairly.
Ward 3 Street and Sidewalk Repairs
You are witnessing the exciting transformation of our streets in Ward 3! I’m absolutely thrilled to have championed the enhancement of our local streets with essential maintenance and improvements. From the introduction of safeguarded bike lanes in Fairhaven Avenue to the fantastic slurry sealing initiative, our comprehensive preventive maintenance program is in full swing. Your patience is greatly valued as we put the finishing touches on the slurry sealing process.
Neighborhoods benefiting from this remarkable work include Fairhaven, Saddleback View, Park Santiago, Portola Park, Mabury Park, Meredith Parkwood, Young Square, Fairbridge Square, and others. This is a moment of pride as we revitalize our neighborhoods for a brighter and smoother future!
Update on the 1647 E 1st Street Property
I want to provide a brief update on the property located at 1647 E 1st Street. The property owner has been issued $13,500 in fines. The City has communicated with the property owner, and while they have indicated they would continue to clean and submit plans to bring the property up to standard, they have not done so.
I’m sharing this update because I frequently receive inquiries about neglected properties in Ward 3. Our office has established a proactive approach to engage with property owners who have a track record of absenteeism, which, unfortunately, contributes to disruptions in our community.
You may recall that during the City Council meeting on December 6, 2022, I proposed measures to tackle this persistent issue. While we proactively participate in site visits, document the situation, and monitor these vacant properties in collaboration with the City’s Code Enforcement Division, we hope property owners will demonstrate good stewardship and collaborate with us in addressing the ongoing concerns linked to their properties. We encourage them to participate in maintaining and cleaning their lots to enhance our neighborhood’s overall well-being. Learn more about my proposal through the link below.
Tom Hatch Appointed Interim City Manager
I want to congratulate and welcome Tom Hatch for being appointed as Interim City Manager. As our city undergoes another transformation, please know that your efforts are deeply appreciated and never go unnoticed. Life has its share of ups and downs, but together, we continue to steer the ship of Santa Ana’s history. I look forward to working with Mr. Hatch to bring stability, good governance, and to help appoint a long-term City Manager.
Robert Rodriguez Named Acting Chief of Police
Assistant Chief Rodriguez has assumed the role previously held by Chief of Police David Valentin, who retired after an illustrious 33-year career, including six years as the head of the Santa Ana Police Department. Working alongside former Chief Valentin was a privilege, and I learned so much. I will miss both him and his exceptional leadership. Nevertheless, I am eager to collaborate with Acting Chief Robert Rodriguez, who will now supervise the operations of the nearly 400-officer Santa Ana Police Department.
Wishing former Chief of Police David Valentin a joyful retirement.
Street Lighting Master Plan
In June 2023, the City awarded a contract to Clanton & Associates, Inc. to develop a citywide streetlight master plan. As part of the project, a data collection consultant (Evari GIS Consulting, Inc.) will be conducting a complete field inventory of all the existing streetlights in the city. Evari’s staff has begun the field audit of the streetlights, which includes taking pictures and measurements of all the lights on city roads and alleys within the public right-of-way. Following the data collection, illumination and light intensity simulation systems will produce light illumination maps that will detail areas of deficiency. Once completed, the master plan will have a prioritized project listing with associated cost estimates for future streetlight projects.
Walnut and Daisy Micro-Farm Coming to Santa Ana!
The Walnut and Daisy Micro-Farm is a vision realized through the dedication of countless individuals over nearly a decade! Our community-driven project fosters economic development by and for local residents. It’s a pioneering initiative, providing space for farming, local food and craft sales (think cooperative business model), community events, and farmers markets. This transformative endeavor addresses the long-standing need for vibrant spaces in our city, bringing opportunity to families who have longed for change. Specifically, in this case, using public land for public good. What once used to be an abandoned plot of land, is being turned into a beautiful hub for organic food access and much more. Our residents’ unwavering commitment and perseverance made this dream come true. I’m immensely proud of everyone involved in making this micro-farm a reality. As we witness its completion, I’m thrilled to see the blueprint it sets for our city and county. This is leadership in action! Congratulations to THRIVE Santa Ana and all involved.
Help OCTA Design a Walking and Biking Trail for Your Community!
I’m absolutely thrilled to open this new section of the Santa Ana River Bike Trail, right here at the cherished site of our historic Pacific Electric bridge. The project introduces two fantastic features that will seamlessly blend into our community, contributing to healthier lifestyles for our residents. The Rails to Trails initiative is a significant step towards fostering connections in our neighborhood and aligns perfectly with our commitment to promoting active transportation and physical well-being. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Congressman Correa for securing the funding that makes these dreams a reality.
OCTA is collaborating with the City of Santa Ana, Garden Grove, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the County of Orange to advance the OC Connect Trail Project. The project creates a 4-mile biking and walking trail connection between the downtown areas of Garden Grove Santa Ana, the Santa Ana River Trail, and the countywide 66-mile bikeway – OC Loop. This project will improve the transportation network along the corridor and provide a safe, well-connected active transportation route. Click the link to sign up for updates and see how you can help contribute to the project’s design.
Learn About the City’s Environmental Justice Action Committee
We are witnessing tangible outcomes from our dedicated efforts. Despite facing skepticism for advocating environmental safeguards in 2021, I take immense pride in the strides we have taken to appoint a dedicated Environmental Justice team member to work closely with the community to execute comprehensive environmental justice policies and initiatives, enact a General Plan that enshrines actionable steps for implementing environmental justice across all facets of our municipality, maintaining ongoing collaborations with local stakeholders, and more.
To support environmental justice in Santa Ana, the City is building an Environmental Justice Action Committee that will consist of one resident from each geographic environmental justice cluster (shown above), two representatives from local community-based organizations, one representative from the City of Santa Ana, and one representative from the Orange County Health Care Agency.
City Council Actions
I’ve been busy at our City Council meetings! Here are just a few of the items we recently approved that will benefit the Santa Ana community:
- Awarded a $540,000 construction contract to Hardy & Harper, Inc. for traffic calming projects (speed cushions, wheelchair ramps, crosswalks, etc.) in five locations (on Grovemont St., Civic Center Dr., Walnut St., Myrtle St., and Cypress Ave.
- Approved an ordinance establishing speed limits on certain streets ensuring officers have the ability to cite people for speeding.
- Authorized staff to provide a Letter of Interest to CalOptima Health to launch a Street Medicine Program in Santa Ana that will provide health and social care developed specifically to address the complex needs and circumstances of unhoused, unsheltered individuals in the city.
- Appointed West Floral Park resident Gabriel Castillo Laughton as the Ward 3 representative to the Police Oversight Commission for a full-term expiring December 10, 2024.
- Approved the City’s official response to two Orange County Grand Jury’s investigative reports: one regarding group homes and one regarding the Orange County Animal Care Shelter
- Affirmed the Planning Commission’s adoption changing the name of segments of North Mabury Street and South Elk Lane between East Fourth Street and East Chestnut Avenue, adjacent to the Santa Ana Zoo, to South Zoo Lane.
Sept. 19 Meeting
- Discuss and consider directing the city manager to bring back at the next regularly scheduled meeting a fully enforceable ordinance that would prohibit spectators at illegal speed contests and reckless driving exhibitions that often endanger people’s lives and disrupt residents’ quality of life.
Local Upcoming Events
Santa Ana Winter Village
We’ll soon be offering a public outdoor ice-skating rink during a month-long family-friendly event with holiday light shows, entertainment, food trucks and more.
AQMD: Young Leaders Advisory Council
In 2017, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) created the Young Leaders Advisory Council (YLAC). This group is for young adults, aged 18 to 35, who care about air quality in our area. They want to hear the thoughts and worries of young people and work together to make the air better.
If you know someone who is passionate and cares about our air, tell them about this opportunity! They can apply to be part of the Young Leaders Advisory Council (YLAC) by submitting an application. This is an ongoing chance, so they can apply anytime. If they are selected, they might get appointed to the council to help make a difference. Spread the word!
The Cambodian Family Annual Christmas Event
The Cambodian Family is hosting their annual Christmas with Santa Ana event on Saturday, December 9, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 1626 E 4th Street!
Other Local Events
Resident Days at the Zoo • Third Sunday of each Month.
Bowers Museum free Sundays • Santa Ana residents get in free each Sunday.
Discovery Cube Waste Free Days • Santa Ana residents get free admission to the Discovery Cube on the first Tuesday of the month.