Santa Ana is home to the largest and most established Latinx community in Orange County. Making up nearly 77% of the city’s total population, Santa Ana’s Latinx population (238,000) ranks fifth in size among cities statewide behind only Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and Fresno. With many low-income residents and mixed immigration status families, the Latinx community faces numerous challenges, including immigration enforcement and access to affordable housing. Primarily located east of Harbor Blvd (see Figure D below), Latinx residents in Santa Ana share these challenges with those in east Garden Grove (east of West Street between Orangewood Ave and Garden Grove Blvd and east of Newhope Street between W Garden Grove Blvd and Westminster Blvd) and west Anaheim (west of the 55 Freeway).
Guidance: Latinx communities in and around Santa Ana (including Santa Ana east of Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove east of West Street between Orangewood Ave and Garden Grove Blvd and east of Newhope Street between W Garden Grove Blvd and Westminster Blvd, and parts of west Anaheim) should serve as the foundation of federal Voting Rights Act-compliant districts at all levels.
- Sarai Arpero (Santa Ana Resident)
- Kayla Asato (Orange County Environmental Justice)
- Ana Charco (Latino Health Access)
- Taavi Kaskla (United Domestic Workers)
- Adela Montanez (Latino Health Access)
- Laura Pantoja (Latino Health Access)
- Otniel Pavia (Orange County Voter Information Project)
- Araceli Robles (Latino Health Access)
- Dulce Saavedra (Resilience Orange County)
- Maria Victoria (Latino Health Access)
Testimony: Sarai Arpero
Good afternoon my name is Sarai Arpero and I am the Lead Promoter in Santa Ana Latino Health Access that has served the Santa Ana community for more than 25 years.
During my years of direct work in the community in which I also live, I bought and paid taxes.
The community I serve is mostly migrant, extremely low income, mixed immigration status, with very low wages, very high rents, homes in very poor condition, and with the zip codes with the most contagions of CV 19. It is important to recognize that housing problems, the homeless community, extreme poverty, lack of access to mental health resources, lack of open spaces and opportunities for our children and youth did not come with the pandemic. The pandemic only aggravated and gave more light to all these problems that have not been addressed for many years and due to lack of representation in our districts and our representatives have not been able to solve in all these years. Many families were greatly affected during this pandemic due to not having access to a doctor, not being able to pay rent during these months of the pandemic. Our community has debts that are practically not payable due to the loss of jobs as a result of the pandemic. Since federal support to pay rent is not enough and accessible to the entire community, our people have had to ask for very high-interest loans or credits to survive, which has put many families under stress that has affected their mental, physical and emotional health.
Today I ask for your vote for redistricting by choosing maps that truly represent the community that I serve and in which I live. We deserve to have a voice and that the decisions of those who represent us have consistency. We are a very young growing community and we are the ones working to build the economy in this county. We deserve to live with equity, health services for all, access to mental health services, decent housing, and to be taken into account as we recover from this pandemic. Thank you.
Testimony: Kayla Asato
Kayla 8/4 and 8/5 testimony
My name is Kayla Asato and I am the redistricting organizer for Orange County Environmental Justice. As our name suggests, OCEJ fights for environmental justice in water quality, cleaning the lead from our soils, better air quality, and electoral change to make all of this happen. We mostly do work in the cities of Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Orange. In addition, we are a member of the People’s Redistricting Alliance, a coalition of 15 community-based organizations established to promote a greater community voice in statewide and local redistricting processes here in OC.
In the city of Santa Ana, there are large amounts of soil lead and poor air quality, predominantly in the Latinx communities. In Garden Grove and Westminster, the issues and communities are very different in terms of environmental justice concerns. The large majority of Santa Ana is much more similar to the cities of Orange and Anaheim in terms of demographics and issues. Santa Ana and Anaheim have two of the deadliest police departments in California, have the majority of frontline workers in OC, and also bear the brunt of the soil lead crisis, in some cases exceeding 50x the recommended health limit. To be clear, no amount of soil lead is good, but 50x higher than the state recommended limit of toxins poisoning our kids is far too unacceptable. These devastating environmental justice issues are often overlooked by policy makers, while low-income and mostly Latinx communities already facing problems like housing injustice and police brutality, pay the price.
The communities that we serve are primarily based in the Madison Park Neighborhood, the Santa Ana neighborhoods between Cedar and Evergreen, the Southern 760 census tract in Orange, Northwestern Orange tracts like 762.04, and a majority of Anaheim in the 864 and 865 census tracts. The environmental justice burdens in the air and in the soil are far different than the burdens are in Garden Grove and Westminster.
We must keep these environmental burdens in mind when drawing the district lines, ESPECIALLY because they fall along racial and socioeconomic lines. Please keep our communities together when drawing the maps,
And as such, it is essential that these communities of interest are kept together to grow the electoral strength and voice they desperately need. We need power to offset the harm that has been done to our communities and advocate for the changes that we need to achieve even a semblance of equity if not liberation. Let our voices be heard, and allow us to be part of the democratic process.
Testimony: Ana Charco
Hello, my name is Ana Charco and I am a program associate with the Civic Engagement and Advocacy Program at Latino Health Access. As a program associate, I work with the Policy Coordinator in researching policies and data on social determinants of health and other topics relevant to LHA’s policy campaign of focus, monitor city policies and public meetings that are relevant to LHA’s policy platform, and recently helped in approving 1.3 million in rental assistance through the City of Santa Ana’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. While I am a part and here on behalf of Latino Health Access, I am ultimately a resident of the City of Santa Ana, who wants her community and needs to be acknowledged, advocated, and taken into account when setting the district lines. The city of Santa Ana is a city of hard-working families with many employed in “essential jobs” that are unfortunately often overlooked and underpaid. Many families in Santa Ana are low-income Latinx families and have mixed immigration status, who also share a very strong sense of community, with a large number of community organizations and resident-led organizations that have come together over the years to promote equitable policies and celebrate the Latinx culture through events, activities, and workshops. From a very young age, I have been heavily involved in community service and community organizing with the hope to achieve long-lasting and equitable change in the city of Santa Ana.
However, after graduating college and returning to Santa Ana, the fact of the matter is that Santa Ana is far away from achieving long-lasting and equitable change despite it being one of the youngest, progressive, and most diverse cities in California. It is, therefore, that I ask of you today to take into consideration communities of interest that include our most vulnerable communities such as low-income communities, immigrant populations, uninsured populations, and youth during the redistricting process. I believe that a federal Voting Rights Act district exists in and around Santa Ana and that creating that district might require separating Santa Ana from Garden Grove and Westminster. It is decisions like this that contribute to making lasting and meaningful change.
Testimony: Adela Montanez
Good afternoon, my name is Adela Montanez, a community worker in the Civic Engagement and Advocacy Department at LHA. The community it works with is a Latino, hard-working, mixed-status, low-income, and youth community. This community is located in the Lacy Area code 92701. Downtown enters Grand Street, First Washington Street, French, and First Street. This area was greatly impacted by the pandemic with the highest rate of infections and suffered from a lack of jobs especially in service workers such as restaurants, hotels, school workers, babysitters, garden workers, and the area of construction, etc.
The primary needs of this community are:
- health insurance.
- Resources to pay the rent.
- Resources to put food on their tables.
In my experience working with the Lacy community, the frequent challenges I hear are:
- Lack of work
- The high cost of housing.
- Lack of accessible housing.
- Lack of medical insurance.
- The large debts they have acquired so as not to be evicted.
- Uncertainty towards the future.
Despite the circumstances, it is a very united, hard-working community. For these reasons, we are asking you to support the districts drawn by the People’s Redistricting Alliance.
The communities of interest that need to be taken into account are: Youths, Mixed migrant families and communities without health insurance
Testimony: Laura Pantoja
Good afternoon Supervisor Do, my name is Laura Pantoja. I am here on behalf of Latino Health Access or LHA, a community organization that has provided health education and prevention services to Orange County residents since 1993. Our mission has two areas of focus:
- Provide culturally appropriate health programs and services to address priority health problems; and
- involve low-income people with opportunities in transforming their environments, providing tools, training, and mechanisms for civic engagement and participation.
We believe that redistricting is critical to achieving our community health goals. We are part of the People’s Redistricting Alliance, a coalition of 15 community organizations established to promote a greater voice in the community. in the state and local redistricting processes here in Orange County. Our community of interest is the low-income Latinx families in the city of Santa Ana. Many are families with mixed immigration status, including undocumented, US residents, and citizens. They are extremely hardworking, and many are employed in “essential jobs” which, sadly, are also poorly paid. Our main office building and park/community center are located on Calle Cuatro (Calle 4) in Santa Ana, in the middle of downtown. “La Cuatro,” as it is known, has Latino restaurants and small businesses that have historically been a gathering place for many families who want to enjoy Latinx cultures. It is also surrounded by residential neighborhoods that connect to the city center and are affected by downtown business, unfortunately negatively with gentrification in more recent years. Downtown Santa Ana is where we see a concentration of low-income renter families in Santa Ana. Our community of interest has many shared needs. Low-income Latinx families need accountability and transparency for public officials and city departments, especially the police department. They need strong protections for renters and immigrants through policies, funds, and programs to support community demographics and needs. They need the city to invest in affordable housing for existing residents. They need the right to participate in local city and school district elections, regardless of their immigration status.
They need community control and decision over public lands. They need to stay in the city without fear of being displaced or separated from their families by deportations. They need access to health care regardless of their immigration status. Santa Ana has significantly lower incomes compared to other cities in the county, often affecting its access to funding for programs and resources. Dividing this community of interest would prevent these already affected families from having access to the public resources that many depend on to survive and would prevent them from having a voice in many policies that affect directly and indirectly.
Testimony: Otniel Pavia
Hi, my name is Otniel Pavia. I am writing on behalf of the Orange County Voter Information Project or OCVIP. OCVIP is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that aims to facilitate the voter registration process and inform voters about the importance of civic engagement. OCVIP does this through presentations, dialogue, canvassing, phone banking, text messaging, and email programs. Increasing voter turnout is the key to making Orange County more representative of its constituents, their beliefs, values, and personal situations. Because redistricting can promote or limit effective civic engagement, we are a member of the People’s Redistricting Alliance, a coalition of 16 community-based organizations established to promote a greater community voice in statewide and local redistricting processes here in Orange County.
My community is:
The Cypress Street Barrio. The Barrio’s development was closely tied to the citrus industry and its Mexican American workers, and it was well established in Orange by 1920. The barrio’s transformation from a rural picker village to an urban blue-collar barrio parallels urbanization patterns of other citrus colonias (“villages”) in Orange County. Today, there are families living here that haved lived here for over 4 generations. Many residents living here have ties to Mexico particularly from the states of Jalisco, Michoacan, and Zacatecas. Needless to say, the Cypress Street Barrio residents have seen Orange change and have a different perspective of the development and population growth around them.
Where my community is located:
Cypress Street Barrio, is located near the northwest corner of the Old Town Orange National Register and local register historic districts, the center of the community or barrio consists of the 400 block of North Cypress Street between Sycamore and Walnut Avenues. The approximate boundaries of the extent of the Cypress Street Barrio are Rose Avenue to the north, Glassell Street to the east, Almond Street to the south and the railroad tracks to the west.
My community is similar to the following neighborhoods:
Our community, as mentioned, is similar to communities who also share origins through their agricultural history. Since the late 1940s and 1950s, the residential nature of the Cypress Street Barrio has diminished. Access to housing choices throughout the cities, decreased dependence upon jobs in the citrus or other agricultural industries, and the increasingly industrial nature of the neighborhood, have all contributed to residents leaving the places they once called home. Residents that do continue to live in the neighborhood today are generally recent immigrants from Mexico and South America. With that said, the Cypress Street Barrio community shares a lot of similarities with the east side of Garden Grove and Santa Ana.
My community is different from the following neighborhoods:
Our community is different in the sense that we are not like the rest of Orange. When you think of the City of Orange, you think Olde Towne Orange, historic buildings, college town; people seldom think of the areas where low-income families reside–especially when you’re located next to a well-known expensive private university. People also think of Villa Park because it is a city within a city! The area that makes up the barrio has census tracts that very low-income compared to those on the east end of the city.
What makes my community special is:
Our local community is full of rich history–good and bad. As mentioned, many of the old buildings from the ‘20s are still up; however, many of the residents that helped grow the local economy are gone. While some remain, many newcomers arrive and live in the same neighborhoods that agricultural workers used to live in. A lot of them do not have the choice to go elsewhere because sometimes it is the more affordable area to settle in.
We need better representation for our communities living in low-income Census tracts. A lot of these folks seldom think how something like redistricting will impact them but the more affluent communities do. That is why we expect more of these individuals to attempt to sway your perceptions of our community because they’ll say they are part of it when they do not even live with or near us or share similar backgrounds and struggles. In this next round of redistricting, we need to make sure that our barrio is not split apart like it is. As a community we find that it’d be better for low-income working class families, like those living in the Cypress Street Barrio, to be drawn in with Santa Ana and East Garden Grove when boundaries are redrawn.
Testimony: Araceli Robles
Good afternoon, my name is Araceli Robles and I am a Health Promoter at LHA in the Civic Engagement and Advocacy Department and a resident of the city of Santa Ana for 20 years. My zip code is 92701.
As an LHA employee, I work organizing different community groups formed mainly by mothers in the Pio Pico Lowel / King School neighborhoods, which have been one of the most affected neighborhoods by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The main motive of these groups is to strengthen community leadership and to advocate for the needs of the community. Different workshops are shared using the skills of the participants so that they can learn about dressmaking, jewelry, flower arrangements, among other activities. This in turn allows them to contribute a little money to their home. Ten years ago I participated in a meeting on how to use funds in our county using the census data but we would never have imagined that we would experience a pandemic as terrible as COVID 19 and see the inequity that exists in our community. Unfortunately, Santa Ana was the most affected and had high numbers of infection and mortality rates in the county. What you should never forget is that these numbers have a face and name that are parents, grandparents, children, siblings, great-nephews, friends who left their family in a more difficult economic situation, especially without their presence. At this time you have the decision to redistribute the districts where equity can be seen and allow the most disadvantaged communities to have sufficient resources in the coming years to continue living after this pandemic. It is very sad and unfortunate that we are all affected by the pandemic but even so that the Board continues to grant funds to the Sheriff’s Department instead of our community. These funds would have made a difference in the community and would have allowed families to have food on their tables, take care of their children, and thus continue to work for us. Santa Ana residents were mainly considered essential workers during this time but were not eligible to have quality health care and decent housing throughout the pandemic. I just want to remind you that the funds you manage are from the community as they are our taxes.
You can make a difference by supporting the redistricting proposal that we support as a coalition. My community is very culturally diverse, multi-ethnic, but above all, we take action to improve our community, and not just being spectators we are part of the solution. I invite you to meet the families of the community cafeteria and realize that we are a community that will never be indifferent to the pain of our neighbors, friends, and family. Thank you.
Testimony: Dulce Saavedra
ORAL TESTIMONY (AUGUST 4 OCBOS COI PUBLIC HEARING)
Hi, my name is Dulce Saavedra, I was born and raised in Santa Ana. I am part of Resilience OC. Resilience OC is an organization working to build leadership of color that works towards community transformation. We have worked for the past 10 years to bring attention to and tackle the issues that have plagued our communities through mentorship, leadership programming, participatory research, community organizing, and advocacy. As part of our organizing and advocacy, we are a member of the People’s Redistricting Alliance, a coalition of 16 community-based organizations established to promote a greater community voice in statewide and local redistricting processes here in Orange County.
Our communities of interest include the Latinx community, disenfranchised communities of color, youth, ﬁrst-generation immigrants, limited-English speakers, and low-income workers.
My community should be centered because we face challenges associated with social and economic status, access to aﬀordable housing, and language access. Most of the youth population are children and teens who rely on free or reduced school lunches. In addition, our community lives in fear of law enforcement – dealing with issues such as deportation, detention, ICE, juvenile justice, and probation.
Our communities live in fear of law enforcement, immigration and the consequences of contact with the criminal legal system. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, 4 out of 5 children have 1 immigrant parent in Santa Ana and 102,015 residents are vulnerable to deportation proceedings. Our communities face daily consequences by the entanglement associated with law enforcement and the immigration system such as Celia has been experiencing for the past decade:
Celia came in contact with law enforcement over a decade ago when she stepped inside a phone company to pay an overdue bill and ensure the services were not terminated. She left her twin infant daughters in the car for a moment, just enough time for a passerby to see the children unattended and call the police. As a result, Celia was arrested, released on bail, and then immediately apprehended by ICE and incarcerated in immigration detention, thus beginning her long battle for her freedom.Voice of OC: Gonzalez and Anda: Community Members Continue to Support Celia’s Fight to Remain Free!
According to the Conditions of Children in Orange County report, Santa Ana and West Anaheim have one of the largest dropout rates in OC, with both cities exceeding over 5%. Dropout rates for the 2019 school year continued to be highest among Black/African American students (9.9%), followed by Hispanic/Latino (7.2%), American Indian/Alaska Native (6.1%). Our communities are in need of competent culturally aware and transformative resources and representation to improve these outcomes. Youth with real representation could live, thrive, and transform their communities.
This redistricting process will move closer to equitable representation where community voices around the issues that we highlighted can create solutions such as access to public programs and supportive resources catered to our communities and our complex needs.
In conclusion, Santa Ana should be kept together in one supervisorial district to ensure access to public programs and supportive resources for immigrant communities. We believe a federal Voting Rights Act district is centered in Santa Ana. Thus, Santa Ana should be drawn with similar communities such as West Anaheim.
Testimony: Maria Victoria
Good afternoon, my name is Maria Victoria. I have been a resident of Santa Ana for 14 years. I live in the 92703 zip code, one of the codes most impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic. The area I live in is between Bristol and flower. I represent a group of mothers who meet in a community cafeteria at Lowell and King Schools, where we hold meetings and create spaces for crafts and conversation, but we also agree to support our community. Together with Latino Health Access during the pandemic, we organized to distribute food to our areas since the pandemic affected us a lot. For instance, we had entire families infected with covid who could not go out to buy food and basic things such as diapers, soap, and medicines.
We the mothers of the community distributed food and everything else we could to ensure that the families had food and stayed inside their homes with their children and family safe. Indeed, many of these expenses were covered with our income. I am from a low-income and mostly undocumented migrant community, where many families live in cramped spaces with very expensive rents and very little access to health insurance. I ask that the recommended redistribution of districts by the People’s Redistricting Alliance is approved. This will begin the construction of working towards a more equitable and better representation. For this reason, you must support this redistricting so that communities of interest such as mine: Latino, working-class, low income, mixed immigration status families have better representation and are taken into account. This will allow us to ultimately improve the quality of life for those of us who live, work, and build the economy and workforce of this county.