The OCTA Street Car Will Change Our City

The proposed streetcar will not only speed up transit, but gentrification too. / Courtesy of OCTA

The newly proposed streetcar that will connect Santa Ana to Garden Grove will only further the gentrification that is already occurring in the downtown area. Santa Ana holds a working-class, cultural, and immigrant identity is undergoing a tremendous change.

The mayor of Santa Ana argues it is a good thing. “I see this project as very forward thinking,” Miguel Pulido said. What Pulido does not mention is the key issues and challenges that come with the streetcar, such as the high cost of housing and funding challenges. It’s a million dollar idea that will become a billion dollar one.

In other words, the cost of creating the street car will only increase with time. This is money that could be used to help the current residents of the city, instead of using it to try to reel in new ones. Cash flow that could help resolve problems relevant to the city like the growing homeless population that has been ignored by Pulido for years.

Santa Ana has an all-Latino council, so you would think that they are interested in preserving the culture-rich history of the city. However, they are instead supporting the whitewashing of the community. It’s a separation of their own roots, of an identity that is already ignored and demonized in today’s political climate.

Furthering the stigma that comes with being Latino. That’s why gentrification is such a big deal because it’s taking a community, a culture that is already underrepresented and erasing it. Changing it to fit “refined” standards while simultaneously driving people out. And with the streetcar in effect, upper middle class individuals will only come running. Why you ask?

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Because transit-oriented development can make neighborhoods more desirable and lead to gentrification. The city will become more crowded than it already is, and housing will evidently skyrocket, more than it already has. So, is this new streetcar project aimed to better our city and benefit the residents that inhabit it, or is it just another way to push us out?

Santa Ana to many families, like mine that came here in the 80s from Mexico, was a supposed promise land. A place people could go to if they were low-income with a chance to strive. A community where Latino immigrants could go to be surrounded by things familiar to them in an unknown country. Fourth street, or what used to be known as “La Cuatro,” is now called DTSA or East End. The East End is the most recent example of gentrification.

Streets once crowded with ethnic shops that are reminiscent of resident’s homelands and the Latino culture, were replaced by hipster coffee shops, obscure eateries, high-end retail, and bars, lots of them. None of which seem to be aimed at the residents. But the price longtime residents have to pay for this influx of upscale businesses and now a streetcar, are far higher than a $8 dollar latte, a $90 t shirt, or a two dollar future OCTA streetcar ride. It is the cost of losing their homes.

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