The Orange County (California) Register reports another would-be redevelopment fiasco. It seems that the city of Santa Ana has bought up, under threat of eminent domain, some 60 parcels of land at a cost of $22 million. Doug Irving, Santa Ana Has Spent Millions to Buy Land Near Downtown, Orange County Register, February 5, 2009. Though no eminent domain lawsuits were actually filed, the city made it clear to the owners of the affected parcels that if they did not cooperate their homes would be condemned. So they caved in.
But — surprise, surprise! — though years have gone by, nothing has been built there by the city, which is hardly surprising since, according to the Register article, the city never adopted any formal plans for this contemplated redevelopment. As the Register article puts it,
“But no such plan was ever sent to the City Council for an official vote. ‘There was never a plan that was adopted,’ said Cynthia Nelson, the deputy city manager in charge of redevelopment. “There was a strategy. I’d call it a strategy.’
The upshot of it all, after 10 years and $22 miilion of the taxpayers’ money down the tubes, has been:
“Drive along Santa Ana Boulevard, and you’ll see what’s become of the city’s ambitions. Abandoned houses, where city officials envisioned new apartments. Chain-link fences, where they thought for sure there’d be townhomes.”
“This was going to be one of Santa Ana’s showcase neighborhoods, a gateway to downtown. Instead, it has become a grim guidepost for the thousands of commuters who pass through it every day. In the words of Councilwoman Michele Martinez: ‘Welcome to Santa Ana. Welcome to a slum.'”
And so, it would appear that instead clearing slums, here is a redevelopment project that creates ’em.
Maybe Santa Ana can enter into one of those “sister cities” deals with New London, Connecticut. Maybe the two of them can still make it to a casting call for a sequel to Dumb and Dumber.