Photo by Blake HaydenGentrification projects intended to drive Mexicans from Orange County are nothing new. In the 1930s, immigration officials deported entire labor camps in La Habra and Fullerton. During the 1950s, Anaheim officials bulldozed the La Conga barrio near Glover Stadium to clear space for parking lots. For the past decade, Santa Ana city officials have desperately poured millions into the Artists Village in hopes of eradicating the area's many Latino-owned businesses.
And it's happening again. From Orange to Anaheim, among swap meets and factories and all along the railroad tracks, luxury condos, apartments, homes and other pricey developments are metastasizing in or near neighborhoods and commerce centers that Mexicans have populated since the days when orange groves outnumbered people. The coming loss of community in these barrios might not be quite as dramatic as what happened during the massive Mexican deportations executed by county and federal agents during the Great Depression and the 1950s. But gentrification ultimately proves more insidious andmore successful in getting the wetbacks out. So take a trip to these barrios and enjoy their history before yuppie filth ruin them as they did Echo Park.
Located in Santa Ana, wedged between the Santa Ana Freeway, Santiago Street, the Atchison, Topeka, N Santa Fe railway and Logan Street. Considered the oldest existing neighborhood in Santa Ana.
THREATENINGPROJECT:Santiago Street Lofts, a 108-unit complex across the street from Logan, currently under construction.
WENEEDTODRIVETHEMEXICANSOUTBECAUSE...“This [project] will help clean up the entry to Santa Ana.” Rick Aiken, architect for Santa Ana-based William Hezmalhalch Architects, Inc., in the May 1 edition of CaliforniaConstruction.
Photo by Shannon Sibayan
Placentia's original downtown, now the business heart of Latino Placentia. Bordered by the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe railway and Santa Fe Street.
THREATENINGPROJECT:Santa Fe Courtyards, 51 duplex units and three live/work units on four acres along the train tracks near Santa Fe Avenue. It's the first project of the $440 million Orange County Gateway Development Initiative (OCGDI), a proposal that seeks to redevelop South Placentia but has so far weighted the small city down with nearly $17 million in debt.
WENEEDTODRIVETHEMEXICANSOUTBECAUSE...“This is the first material investment in the Old Town—period.” Mayor Scott Brady during a May 3 Placentia City Council meeting approving the project over the objections of residents and business owners who have kept the area bustling for decades.
Photo by Tenaya Hills
Street in Anaheim that, from Olive Street to West Street, passes various Mexican barrios and one of the city's last remaining orange groves. One of the barrios is Little Peoples Park, where, in 1978, the county's worst police riot occurred. The riots not only inspired police reforms—eventually implemented countywide—but also a beautiful Emigdio Vasquez mural that still exists on the wall of Mercado Iberoamerica. Another Santa Ana Street barrio is La Philadelphia Street—where I grew up.
THREATENINGPROJECTS:Numerous. They range from the 56 John Laing homes near completion on the corner of Anaheim Boulevard and Santa Ana Street to a big empty lot on the corner of Olive Street and Santa Ana Street that used to host a Quikset factory to the scores of historical homes slated for demolition by the city to make way for new houses.
WENEEDTODRIVETHEMEXICANSOUTBECAUSE...“I think part of the challenge as a council is how we address this need that is very evident.” Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, in a June 7 town hall meeting, arguing why luxury tracts are needed in the city instead of affordable housing.
Photo by Tenaya Hills
Site of the former Orange Drive-In. Currently one of the county's largest and most Latino swap meets.
THREATENINGPROJECT:Archstone Gateway, 884 apartments on the Orange-Anaheim border set to replace the Orange Drive-In.
WENEEDTODRIVETHEMEXICANSOUTBECAUSE...Project planners Archstone Communities paid a $1.5 million fine to Orange rather than designate 80 of the planned 532 apartments on the Orange side as affordable housing units, as required by the city.
Photo by Blake Hayden
Barrio near Chapman University. Home to the last functioning citrus-packing plant in Orange County.
THREATENINGPROJECT:Chapman University. In the past couple of years, the college has aggressively purchased buildings around the neighborhood with plans to absorb them into the film school. Last fall, it purchased the barrio's citrus-packing plant from the Villa Park Orchards Association for $4.2 million with the intent of shutting it down.
WENEEDTODRIVETHEMEXICANSOUTBECAUSE...Key grips grow on trees.