Downtown Santa Ana’s small business owners took to City Hall on Tuesday to voice the struggles they’re facing in light of the OC Streetcar construction and continuing gentrification.
“Not only have we lost our businesses but we have lost our sense of community,” said Business owner Ana Laura Padilla, an owner of two businesses in DTSA
Adan Rodriguez owns a small discount store “Conchita 99c and more” in DTSA and is one of many business owners who have encountered the struggle to remain afloat. Rodriguez and other downtown business owners have been attending the city council meetings numerous times and say they will continue to do so to remind the city council the struggles they have to go through.
The ongoing construction of the OC Streetcar and marginalization of the Latino community are two of the main issues business owners expressed to the council.
Although the streetcar was approved by the previous city council, the Fourth Street businesses that remain open continue to feel unheard, “It is now clear that the construction of this streetcar has led to the closure of many businesses that were once the heart of Santa Ana,”Padilla, owner of two businesses in DTSA.
Many Downtown businesses had to close due to the lack of sales.The streetcar’s construction completely shut down parking space and sidewalks. The businesses that remain open fear they might have to do the same thing if the city of Santa Ana does not help them now.
“We find ourselves struggling to make ends meet and need your help to save the business that for years has served Santa Ana and has brought growth to our community,” Padilla said.
Business owner Ginette Sanchez also mentioned how besides the ongoing construction DTSA is going through, the Latino community no longer feels at home in the Downtown area as they once were. “Our Latino community events such as Fiestas Patrias, Noche de Altares, Cinco de Mayo fair have been pushed out,” said Sanchez. “These events were a huge success and would bring the majority of the community and the outside people to Downtown.”
Sanchez further expressed how she encouraged the city to bring those events back to Fourth Street where it all started and where the community united. By doing so not only would it help small businesses, but it would make people want to come enjoy the culture that once existed in the heart of Santa Ana.
Although many Downtown businesses are still struggling, all they asked from the city council is for their community back and to allow their businesses to keep running.
“We are hard working merchants that came to open business to provide for our families, we do not want free money we just want to work,” said Sanchez. “We are here to stay, we aren’t going anywhere, we are going to fight to be here, we deserve to be here and we worked hard to be here.”