Santa Ana, California’s City Council approved the demolition of the Northgate Market to make room for a new apartment complex, over the objections of many residents.
The council approved the construction of a 169-unit apartment building on East Fourth Street by a 4–2 vote at its Dec. 15 meeting, continuing a recent reboot of the city’s aging downtown district.
But many Santa Ana residents who spoke virtually at the meeting voiced disapproval with the new development and urged the council to vote against it. Some residents said the market provides more value to the city than the apartments would, while others argued the apartments would be “luxury housing” and wouldn’t accommodate the needs of lower-income residents.
Newly elected Johnathan Ryan Hernandez and Jessie Lopez, who joined the City Council since the previous council supported the development on Dec. 5, voted against the project.
Hernandez expressed concern with the project’s lack of affordability.
“I know firsthand how discomforting it is to live in poverty, and to live in a community that does not prioritize you, and to see luxurious buildings be built that you will never have access to,” he said at the meeting.
Hernandez said he’s most concerned with public safety, adding that “not having enough access to affordable housing actually caused a spike in crime to happen.”
Councilmembers Phil Bacerra, Nelida Mendoza, Thai Viet Phan, and David Penaloza voted in favor of the development. Mayor Vicente Sarmiento recused himself from voting because he said his family owned property nearby.
Bacerra said the new apartment complex will invite higher-income residents to add to the city’s tax base.
“We are the capital of Orange County,” Bacerra said. “We should have housing diversity. We need to take care of the folks that are the most vulnerable, but we also need to enhance our tax base.”
The new mixed-use commercial and residential project will incorporate two adjacent parcels of land on East Fourth Street near Mortimer Street. The 11,361-square-foot development will include studio and multi-room apartments, along with a courtyard pool.