Downtown Santa Ana business owners say OC streetcar construction is hampering business

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) – Business owners in downtown Santa Ana describe the area as a ghost.

“We have no customers. Our sales have dropped significantly since February 1,” said business owner Ana Laura Padilla.

Padilla has two businesses. She says the construction of the OC Streetcar affects more than 80 businesses on 4th Street.

The road network has been under construction for years, but Padilla says construction began in their area’s downtown area on February 1.

She and others demonstrated downtown on Tuesday.

It’s a triple whammy for them. First they dealt with building rent increases, then COVID-19 and now closures.

The mayor says he has scheduled a guided tour for Tuesday afternoon to speak to business owners about their concerns.

“Relief efforts have been offered to downtown businesses, as well as businesses across the city as a result of the pandemic, but this one is more of a relief during this construction time,” the mayor said. of Santa Ana, Vicente Sarmiento.

Padilla says they received a flyer two days before construction began.

“We have a lot of weddings that have parties at some of the venues in downtown Santa Ana and they’ve tried to cancel the parties because there’s no guest parking there. No parking lot for anyone,” Padilla said.

A statement from Joel Zlotnik of the Orange County Transportation Authority said:

“The OC Streetcar project has been under construction in Santa Ana since 2019. OCTA has worked closely with the city throughout construction to keep residents, businesses, and the community informed of timing and impacts. Current construction on Fourth Street started the first week of February and we specifically informed businesses and residents about last month’s schedule, after months and months of notifying businesses and residents that it would happen. The last week of January we We also scoured the community to alert them that work would begin the following week.We have been in communication with downtown businesses since construction began, through regular updates, attending community meetings, providing information to the city and regular in-person visits We notified the companies that this work was going to take place since we started construction.

In 2020, OCTA entered into an agreement with two associations representing downtown Santa Ana businesses, the Santa Ana Business Council and Downtown, Inc. The agreement provided $100,000 to each association for two years for a total investment of $400,000 in support. The associations agreed to use the funding to support community and public events to bring visitors downtown, invest in increased marketing efforts to attract more visitors, and help educate businesses about the benefits of the tramway and to share information on upcoming construction activities. »

A statement from Paul Eakins with the City of Santa Ana said:

“The City of Santa Ana sympathizes with our small businesses who are facing disruption during the construction of the OC Streetcar. We know this is a difficult transition, but we believe the long-term economic benefits l “will far outweigh these temporary challenges. In 2008, downtown businesses chose 4th Street as the preferred route for the eventual streetcar. Working with OCTA, the City of Santa Ana mandated holiday closures construction of the tramway to mitigate the impact on the business community. OCTA also provided support such as the Eat, Shop, Play, which provides marketing assistance to affected businesses and provided $200,000 in grants to Downtown, Inc. and the Santa Ana Business Council to commercialize impacted commercial areas.The city will continue to work with OCTA to help mitigate construction impacts and promote these local businesses pr wise. »

Business owners say they want the community to know their businesses are open.

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