On the Santa Ana Council Agenda Tonight

For those who have been watching the ‘pay to play’ antics of the Santa Ana City Council may wish to show up at their meeting tonight at City Hall.

Two items in particular have caught my eye on the council agenda. First is the rescission and re-vote on the reduction and suspension of fees charged to for-profit adult soccer leagues by the city. Back in September the council reduced then suspended these fees, costing the city $127,488 in fees, targeted for use in developing additional artificial turf fields, over  the next couple years. They are having to conduct this do-over because both Councilman Tinajero and Councilwoman Martinez discovered that the money they had accepted from one of the 6 adult leagues operating in the city prevented them from voting. According to Tinajero and Martinez, they didn’t know that they had received $500 each in May and did not remember reading that information on their campaign finance reports, when they signed them, slightly more than a month before their vote.

Item 55c

Even though the $500 contributions helped Tinajero and Martinez assist in guiding the reduction and suspension of fees through a subcommittee process and completely around their Parks and Rec Commission, their two votes were not needed anyway to give away funds meant to develop additional artificial turf soccer fields. there are still enough votes on the council to give for profit leagues more profit and Santa Ana’s youth less soccer fields.

So if people have a concern about the need for more soccer fields in Santa Ana, it would be a good idea to show up at tonight’s council meeting and give the council an ear full.

We also have the matter of setting back the clock on the agreement for some of the Station District Development project. The Community Redevelopment Agency as a proposal on its agenda to: 

3. POTENTIAL RESCISSION AND RE-APPROVAL OF SANTA ANA STATION DISTRICT AFFORDABLE HOUSING DISPOSITION AND DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Consider rescission of the Disposition and Development Agreement with Santa Ana Station District LLC (Developer), subject to Developer’s consent, and resubmittal of the Disposition and Development Agreement for Agency Board approval at a future date.

I can only imagine what this is going to cost the Community Redevelopment Agency. I find it difficult to believe that the developers will just walk away from this without some compensation. Unfortunately, what little te public knows is concealed by last week’s closed session meeting on the project and the limited description above.

The matter of the Stations District Project is of particular concernt given this tidbit of information from a recent LATimes story.

A Times investigation by reporters Jessica Garrison, Kim Christensen and Doug Smith found that cities across California have skirted or ignored laws requiring them to build affordable homes and in the process mismanaged hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.

— In Santa Ana and Avalon, officials spent millions on projects that knocked down homes, displaced low-income people and worsened blight without producing anything in its place. Block after block in a 94-acre area east of Santa Ana’s civic center is lined with boarded-up buildings and vacant lots. In the Santa Catalina Island city, where housing is so scarce that workers sometimes sleep in the bushes, a half-block of property where cottages were razed to make way for more homes has sat, sun-baked and undeveloped, for 15 years.

Moving them out

Santa Ana officials spent the last decade buying and bulldozing single-family homes and apartments east of downtown, uprooting homeowners and low-income renters.

“A lot of people got moved out and were told a story that something good was going to be done,” said Fred Reyes, whose family had owned a 1901 Victorian for nearly 40 years when the city acquired it from his mother and knocked it down.

“You drive through there and you go, wow,” said Reyes, 41. “You’d think by now something would have been done.”

Sandi Gottlieb, a project manager with Santa Ana’s Community Development Agency, said it took a decade “to get a good cohesive development site” because the agency bought properties as they became available rather than acquiring them through eminent domain. She said the city now has a viable plan with a “quality developer” and could begin construction next year on a housing project near vibrant new shops.

“Obviously, we would like to have gotten going sooner than now,” she said. Although redevelopment agencies are generally required to develop land for housing within five years of acquiring it, state records show that as of 2008, the agencies had been holding more than a quarter of their undeveloped land for periods longer than that. Nearly 15% had been held for more than a decade.

Claudia Alvarez and Miguel Pulido

NOTE TO POTENTIAL PUBLIC SPEAKERS: You want to be sure to address your questions through the Chair/Mayor when you make comment and stick to the issues the council deals with. We wouldn’t want Mayor Pro Tem Alvarez getting all agitated and cutting of your microphone or anything like that.

The meeting is scheduled to be held starting at 5:00 pm in the City Hall, 8th Floor, Room 831, 20 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, California 92702.

Show up a little before 5pm and demand to be allowed entry into the conference room while the council members arrive. You wouldn’t want to miss any part of the meeting and Public Comment is supposed to be taken first.

  7 comments for “On the Santa Ana Council Agenda Tonight

  1. Al Simmons
    October 4, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Well, riddle me this:
    Mayor Pulido and councilmembers Alvarez and Sarmiento voluntarily recused themselves from all station district votes due to conflict of interest.
    It was then discovered that Sal Tinajero, Michele Martinez, and Benavides had undisclosed conflicts of interest by accepting campaign donations from the developers and their associates, thereby disqualifying their ability to vote on the station district.
    Since they couldn’t legally vote on approving the item, they should also be recused from the vote tonight undoing that improper vote. (This applies even if they have returned the money. It doesn’t erase that fact that they accepted it.)
    That leaves only Carlos Bustamante eligible to vote on this item. That’s not a quorum, so how can they possible rescind the vote?

    What should probably happen is that the city attorney and city clerk should declare the previous vote invalid. There was a window where the council could have fixed the problem themselves, but that would have had to have been done at the meeting immediately following the vote, and they didn’t do that. Instead, they chose to try and hide it and not address it at all, and even had a closed meeting to continue to discuss station district items away from the public view.
    It will be a stain on this project if the vote is declared invalid, as it should be.
    According to the agenda, it looks like the council is going to try and use a questionable process to undo the vote and wait until an appropriate amount of time has passed to try and get out from under all of these conflicts. No apology, no proper legal process, just a sleazy, sneaky backroom ploy to wait it out and pass it later, when it can’t hurt them in this election.

    I guess we’ll see if the councilmembers who accepted the improper campaign donations do the right thing and recuse themselves from this vote tonight.

  2. October 4, 2010 at 11:21 am

    If this article shows anything, it is that the news media (thank your, Chris) needs to stay on top of the Santa Ana Council. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones who have issues dealing with the public. Recent issues of respect and dignity have also arisen at the Tustin City Council meetings where Jerry Amante and the Boyz frequently disrespect citizens who criticize them and female council members who, for some macho reason, they seem to just have to disrespect.

    • Repulsed
      October 4, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      I would like to thank you also Chris.
      The task of keeping track of the Santa Ana slime is overwhelming and frustrating.

  3. francisco barragan
    October 4, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    @ Chris P:

    With respect to the LA times article and City of Santa Ana, please see the article I posted entitled “$700 million Housing Funds Spent – not a single Unit built”, and the comments Where I also examine City of Santa Ana closer.

    http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/?p=53511&preview=true

    Francisco “Paco” Barragan
    Santa Ana, CA

    • October 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      no blog whoring over here Francisco.

    • Al Simmons
      October 5, 2010 at 8:06 am

      If you’re trying to reference an LA Times article, please put a link to the actual article.
      The story looks interesting, but I won’t go to a garbage blog to read it.

  4. Vinny Sarmiento is clueless
    October 5, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Councilman Vincent Sarmiento spent part of last night debating himself on the difference between fees taxes and surcharges. Duh! Hey Vinny. If it’s coming out of my pocket after I earned it and going into the black hole that is Santa Ana, it’s a tax.

Comments are closed.