Notes, Quotes and Observations from KPCC's Town Hall on Gentrification in Santa Ana

Photo by Don Benjamín

I knew that last night's KPCC-FM 89.3's town hall forum on gentrification in SanTana was the ticket in OC when a South County source of mine asked me for tickets. Two weeks ago. Damn, son: weren't you mocking SanTana just a couple of years ago?

How sought-after was a seat for the forum, held at the Discovery Cube as part of AirTalk's 30th anniversary? Host Larry Mantle announced just before the live-on-tape recording that over 400 requests were made for the 150 slots available, which shows how much the issue continues to roil the city. Maybe it should've been held at Eddie West Field?

Anyhoo, the forum was a smash, with six panelists (myself include) talking about a changing SanTana, what's good and bad about the changes, and so much more. Listen to the discussion today on the air at 11 a.m., or find it online (we'll include the link...somewhere here, because we want you to read the rest of the post, you know?). Following--with apologies to the former Orange County Register columnist Randy Youngman--are my notes, quotes, and observations from the event.

*The panelists: Ryan Chase, whose family has been landlords in downtown SanTana for decades; Cal State Fullerton professor Erualdo González; Planning and Building Agency executive director Hassan Haghani; Floral Park resident Mark McLoughlin; downtown artist Alicia Rojas; and awesome mujer Ana Siria Urzua. We spent more of our time in the green room speaking about--of all things--Wally George.

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*Some idiot called the AirTalk folks before the event, claiming that Urzua was not going to be able to make the panel, and suggested a couple of local blowhards as replacements. What idiots do those kind of things? Those idiots.

*This was the third time in 10 years that AirTalk had held a town hall in SanTana on gentrification, which shows how hot the topic has remained all these years. I was on the first one (held a decade ago at the original Librería Martínez location off Main Street) and helped to organize the one held four years ago at the current Librería Martínez on Broadway, and I do declare last night's was the best of the bunch: smart panelists, great audience questions, and next-to-now rambling.

*I hadn't been on AirTalk in over three years, ever since I jumped to KCRW-FM 89.9 to start my weekly "Orange County Line" commentary. Mantle was kind enough to note that I had been a regular on his show for a decade, and said me leaving was his show's loss, and KCRW's gain--always a class act.

*Overheard in the audience: "I'm worried about my safety in Santa Ana, but it's cool to see more police." Allegedly said by a downtown SanTana business owner. Bruh...

*The audience was a great mix of people: SanTana residents, outsiders, gentrification warriors, gentrification lovers. The anti-gentrification side, as it were, was polite, frequently breaking into applause when they liked something someone said. The pro-gentrification side, on the other hand, openly snickered, muttered under their breath, and were generally boors--not surprising AT ALL


*Haghani, while a nice-enough guy, was a bizarre choice to represent the city point of view, given he's only worked in SanTana for THREE MONTHS. He was chosen by the city, presumably because Don Papi Pulido was unavailable due to him swapping properties with someone.

Want to see what was talked about? Listen here. Enjoy!

Email: Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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