The Santa Ana Sentinel

Weighing the Matter of the Downtown Property Owners

Posted in Downtown by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on August 30, 2011

Years ago, before there was a Downtown Inc., I had the idea of marketing the entire historic downtown more effectively by going by the markers set in the National Register of Historic Places, concerning Santa Ana’s downtown. Need I remind people that the historic downtown is roughly bounded by Ross to Spurgeon and First to Civic Center streets? That, goes far far beyond a segment called the Artist’s Village or the East End.

If it were up to me, I’d market the entire downtown as the historic district that it is. I’d place banners at the “entry points” of the downtown to really emphasize that the downtown is more than an artist’s village or an east end. What about the rest of the downtown? When I walk around the downtown, beyond these two aforementioned segments, all I see is abundant opportunity and potential beyond the dilapidated façades.

I’m having trouble figuring out who is right or wrong on this issue because the anti-PBID people are right to complain that their businesses and their parts of the downtown aren’t being promoted, not like the artist’s village and the new east end anyway. I’ve always argued for improvement, and I’d like to start with some of the property owners in the downtown that don’t even invest a penny in beautifying their façades. On the other hand, to look at things objectively, Irv Chase has. What Chase is doing is precisely what I’ve wanted property owners in the downtown to do, but instead some if not most act like slum lords.

Where does the money made from the PBID taxes go to? Is it solely for print media and the hiring of certain entertainment groups? Does any of it go to beautification? If so, wouldn’t it be fair to at least raise money to loan it to commercial property owners, besides Chase, if they need it to improve their buildings?

Is Chase the only property owner with enough money to renovate his buildings? There must be some mechanism or incentive for other building owners to renovate. A mechanism like a loan courtesy of Downtown Inc., or the City of Santa Ana, or whatever bank some of these property owners do business at would work. A mechanism or a fund that is specifically and strictly for the improvement of downtown properties is in order.

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