Historic Santa Ana Businesses Mowed Down by Landscaping Requirements
Santa Ana business owners pushed aside for landscaping requirement. Video courtesy of Reason.
SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA Portions of lots in Santa Ana are being taken to widen busy Bristol Street. In 2013 the city implemented a new requirements that an additional thirty feet along the street be dedicated to landscaping. This setback goes through several commercial buildings that will have to be demolished to accommodate the additional green space requirements. It appears that eight viable business locations will have to be demolished to make way for landscaping.
Although building owners would be compensated, many would rather continue using their existing buildings rather than move. For instance, the karate studio, or dojo, of Fumio Demura, known as the real Mr. Miyagi, will be demolished if the City of Santa Ana gets its way. In a video produced by Reason, which analyses public policies and promotes civil liberties, Demura explained how he took an unwanted house and improved it for his business. He explained, “This [was] an old house. We fixed it. We work so hard.”
If the city officials win this battle, a 30-foot landscaping strip will replace business with a landscaping area and an empty portion of the existing lot. It might not be feasible to find a use for the left over portion of the existing lots. Taxpayers will have to pay for the entire lots and buildings if they become unusable because of the landscaping requirements. If business owners decide to rebuild their businesses, they may take their businesses out of the city along with jobs and tax revenue.
This leads one to wonder if the city’s emphasis on what it considers to be quality developments is the right path to take. The city has been accused of pushing out older minority-owned family business in favor of upscale retail developments and promoting gentrification of the downtown area. Families starting or considering moving their businesses to the city and real estate investors should ponder if they are a “quality business” that the city is welcoming, or if they will just be tolerated until the city finds a better use for their location.
Kristen Kelly and Tracy Oppenheimer contributed to this article.