Gustavo Arellano finds the corruption in the Renaissance Plan

Gustavo Arellano, of the O.C. Weekly, has written a couple of interesting reports about the Santa Ana Renaissance Plan. It turns out that Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido and Councilman Vince Sarmiento are playing games, as usual, with the people of Santa Ana. Here are Gustavo’s posts – please visit his blog and be sure to thank him for these revealing posts!

The Renaissance blog in Santa Ana’s Redevelopment Plan

Today, a chingo of SanTana residents met at State Senator Lou Correa’s office to discuss the Renaissance Specific Plan, which seeks to transform the city’s downtown in a good (according to proponents) or gentrifying-Mexicans-outta-there (says opponents) way. I’m sure the other SanTana blogs–specifically Sean Mill at The Liberal OC and the Orange Juice! gang–will have something to say, but here’s something for everyone to ponder in the meanwhile: what’s with the weird blob in the bottom middle of the proposed area as shown in this included map?

The bottom boundary coming from the east is mostly First Street but then does a strange jag through lots up until a small stretch of Fourth Street. It do-si-dos around two buildings before going back on Third, hangs a left on Bush Street, then finally continues on First. The businesses inside the blob (that is, outside the boundaries of the Renaissance Plan) seem to be exactly the opposite of what SanTana planners want for their downtown–mostly auto repair shops, a Mexican dance hall, and a big, ugly shopping plaza with McDonald’s and Taco Bell as the main tenants. Yet the Renaissance Blob ensures they’ll be excluded from any plans or new regulations.

Why the exception? As always in SanTana politics, look to the conflict of interests involved in any decision. In this case, look at mayor Miguel Pulido and councilmember Vince Sarmiento.

Sarmiento’s family has run Festival Hall at 220 E. Third Street for years. It attracts the type of crowd city planners abhor–Mexicans looking to dance. In 2001, Sarmiento helped broker a deal with the city in which Festival Hall agreed to soundproof itself in return for agreeing not to sue the city for allowing the building of lofts next door and across the street. Those lofts are also part of the Renaissance Blob.

Pulido’s family, meanwhile, owns Ace Muffler & Brakes on 401 E. First Street. For years, it stood as a testament to the power of pissed-off little people. In the mid-1980s, Santa Ana officials tried to tear down Ace Muffler as part of a redevelopment plan. The Pulidos sued and won, and the developer erected their shopping plaza around the muffler shop. Miguel used that battle to catapult himself onto the SanTana City Council in 1986, and used the continuing goodwill to become mayor in 1994, where he remains. Ace Muffler is also part of the Renaissance Blob.

I’m not sure who determined the boundaries for the Renaissance Plan, but doesn’t the Blob rather conveniently exclude Festival Hall and Ace Muffler from the coming redevelopment? So, Pulido and Sarmiento: put your properties where your mouths are. Miguel: you told the Orange County Register back in October that the Renaissance Plan “is a big change, a positive change.” Same with you, Vincent: you fought hard and admirably to ensure Festival Hall survived–will you do the same for the residents and businesses the Renaissance Plan seeks to remove? If ustedes like the Renaissance Plan so much, why not remove your properties from the Renaissance Blob and include them in the plan? Leave your justifications below–SanTana residents and lovers of transparent governance await your response!

Renaissance Plan blob didn’t always exist

Earlier today, we wrote about the Renaissance Blob, the strange drawing of boundaries in SanTana’s Renaissance redevelopment plan that weaved around properties operated by the families of Mayor Miguel Pulido and councilmember Vince Sarmiento. In a comment, Liberal OC blogger/SanTana planning commissioner Sean Mill wrote he was told by city staffers “that the reason that those properties were left out was so that Vince and Miguel would be able to vote on the plan. If they were included they would have to recuse themselves.”

Pulido didn’t always have such concerns.

On July 20, 2006, SanTana’s Planning and Building Agency published a Notice of Preparation for an Environmental Impact Report for the Renaissance Plan. Included in the packet was the following image of the Renaissance Plan boundaries:


These are the same boundaries still promoted on the website of Moule and Polyzoides, the Pasadena firm contracted by SanTana officials to reimagine its vibrant downtown:


Now, compare the above maps with the current boundaries:


What do the varying plans show? Pulido and Sarmiento’s properties were originally part of the Renaissance Plan–and now they’re not. If what Mill’s source told him is true, and SanTana workers rejiggered the boundaries to eliminate any conflict of interest for Pulido and Sarmiento so they can vote on the Plan, then this is politics at its vilest: politicians working the system to meet their needs. What’s worse is that the conflict of interest charge is eliminated by a mere technicality considering Festival Hall (which Sarmiento’s family runs) is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from the Renaissance Plan boundaries, while Pulido’s muffler shop ain’t that far away.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.


  1. Anonymous

    Sarmiento and Pulido should still be recused from voting since they have properties with financial interests in such close proximity to the Renaissance area.

  2. Anonymous

    Thank you Anonymous, Esq.

    So, on what basis should Sarimento and Pulido be prevented from voting on the most important specific plan to come before this City in years?

  3. Anonymous

    Plenty has changed since the charette. The RSP boundaries have been jiggled to accommodate the finacial interests/holdings of Pulido and Sarmiento and some cock-eyed planner/s included a very expensive trolly system.

    Bundle this with Pulido’s mandate to NOT televise all council meetings, and there’s reason enough for a conspiracy theorists.

  4. cook

    Even a lay person with a computor can look it up Anon 9:11am

    Page 142 of 204

    18704.2. (a) (1) (go and look it up)

    The five hundred foot rule.

    2 links take you to same spot.

  5. Vote No on Measure D

    If it’s good enough for the residents of Santa Ana, then it should be good enough for Miguel Pulido and Vincent Sarmiento.
    Unless they plan on getting even richer when all their developer pals give them and their annointed candidates tons of cash.Maybe it’s time the Grand Jury look into the deals of Pulido and his pal Kakkar.

  6. Anonymous

    You raise a very interesting point anon #5. The better question to ask is WHY the Grand Jury hasn’t indicted Pudrido/Reemer & Co sooner.

    Back in ’95/’96 Pudrido was the target of the local FBI and then they were diverted towards a small fry council member by powerful sources close to the investigation.

    These puppet masters would want us to believe a budding council person was such a big threat to the community, when, in fact, Pudrido/Reemer Cabal have been violating the public trust and coffers since their unholy alliance since 1987.

    Sarmiento himself said it is time for his turn at the table (ie, read: pig feeding trough). He had been jealous & patiently waiting for his turn to twist his position into a multi-million dollar empire like his half-brother Pudrido has done. It only took the help of Crazy Clownia & Slimy Sal to help them acheive their objective.

    My question goes out to Sarmiento. What good have you done for the community since being SELECTED to the council? Nothing. Just as we all thought. All you have done is to set yourself up for big paydays for years to come. What a joke! You only perpetuate the bad stigma given to lawyers.

  7. Anonymous

    I have a better idea – vote NO on Measure D and sideline Claudia Alvarez on Feb. 5, then retire Pulido and Sarmiento from office next November.

  8. Anonymous

    The Renaissance Plan talks about the First Street Corridor. After carving out Pulido and Sarmiento’s properties, there is not much left of a corridor to plan for.

    Pulido and Sarmiento’s properties should be included in the Renaissance Plan and those two should recuse themselves from voting on the Plan. Pulido had no problem recusing himself from the vote on One Broadway Plaza. With Pulido and Sarmiento recusing themselves, there would still be 5 other Councilmembers left to vote on this plan.

  9. Anonymous

    Does anybody know if Kakkar or Harrah owns property within the Renaissance Plan area?

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