By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Log on to the Olson Co.'s website, www.theolsonco.com. Go ahead. We'll wait.
Once you're there, you'll find the site festooned with revolving photos of bright jars of daisies and cool, artsy chessboards—just the things with which you'll doubtless spend a fortune appointing your new home!Wait, there it is! See the artist's rendition? There?
Now, if you're reading this, you're probably not gonna flip for the $600 thousand Cypress house ("Oak Knoll Walk") or the $300-and-change "Gallery Walk" in the master-planned community of Fullerton's Amerige Heights. The Olson Company may be pulling in lots of suckers with those models, but not you!You're an original, baby.
But the "Artists Walk" in Santa Ana? A "renaissance of avant-garde design arriv[ing] in this uniquely sophisticated collection of contemporary artists' lofts. Situated amid the refreshing Santa Ana Artists Village, you enjoy a creative, upbeat, urban environment filled with culture, community and a spirit of possibility"?
Why, that sounds nice!
And the picture on the website looks nice!Really nice!
There's just one teeny-wittle problem. You can't have one.
What were supposed to be artists' lofts are instead being consumed by yups who want second homes. Sure, the city of Santa Ana forked over $1.2 million in subsidies to the developer—the Olson Co. But, whoa! The "artists' lofts" are now going for almost $500 grand, when the original price tag was supposed to be $200 thousand. And the artists had already been sticker-shocked way back then! It's your tax dollars at work, folks, doing what they usually do: finding their way back to the pockets of those who need them most: Developers and people with second homes.Awww, yeah.
Once it became clear that Olson and Friends were—um, how do you say?—lying about what they'd be charging for the chic little lofts, the city got tough! And when it got tough, it told Olson just how it was gonna be! And it demanded that Olson keep six—out of 86—of the units "affordable!"
The affordable units will run you $300 thousand.
And guess what?
You can't have one!
One local artist, who had sent in her deposit check before it was due because she was going to be away on a trip to South America, came home to find Olson had jacked the price up on her already-negotiated loft by 50 large. She called. She wrote. She pointed out that she had been their biggest supporter in City Council meetings and the media. For her troubles, she got a swift kick in the ass.
Now, I don't know if you know this already, but as a gross generalization, artists tend to think they're owed a chic-'n'-bohemian subsidized lifestyle. They tend to kvetch about how the city—whatever city—isn't doing enough to retain its artist class, isn't cushioning them from the harsh world without. They tend to think they should get grants and live/work spaces somewhere in the range of "free." But in this case, they might be forgiven for thinking that—since that's pretty much exactly what the city trumpeted it was going to do. And now a bunch of ad execs and are snapping up the "artists' lofts" built with the public dime, and the artists are too demoralized even to bitch.
And by the way? Don't tell the supermajority Latinos of Santa Ana their bustling downtown needs to be revitalized for the architecture firms with the tax payments of the taquerias. That's one tirade you don't want to hear.