Orange County Grants $1.2 Million to Santa Ana Businesses Hurt by Streetcar Construction

Orange County will grant $1.2 million in American Rescue Plan Funds to Santa Ana businesses whose customer traffic is affected by the construction of the OC Streetcar, a modern streetcar line that will run through Santa Ana and Garden Grove, California.

On May 10, the OC Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion—introduced by Supervisor Katrina Foley of District 2—to form a small business grant program in collaboration with the City of Santa Ana and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), with the $1.2 million coming from District 2’s American Rescue Plan funds.

The construction of the $509-million OC Streetcar project began in 2018 and is set to start operation in 2023.

Businesses on Fourth Street in Downtown Santa Ana have complained that the construction is tearing up the street and discouraging customers from shopping at their stores.

Dozens of Fourth Street business owners spoke during the meeting to urge the board to adopt Foley’s motion.

“More than 200 businesses have been harmed by the OC streetcar construction,” one business owner said. “To have this happen after COVID is a surreal … experience. This board supported small businesses during COVID. … But right now, it’s worse than COVID because people can’t even access us … so they choose to avoid the area altogether.”

Construction for an upcoming streetcar system is underway in Santa Ana, Calif., on May 4, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The administrator of Nova Academy Early College High School, a charter school in Downtown Santa Ana, said that the construction causes an unsafe environment for students.

She said she and other school officials went to the OCTA board in 2017, requesting the board not put a construction site within 10 feet of the school, but they went ahead with construction plans anyway.

“The OC streetcar construction has been a harmful presence to our school since 2019,” the administrator said during the meeting. “We’ve been asking for years [for the city] to remove this site. … The hazards are unsafe.”

Local businesses already received $1.5 million in aid from the City of Santa Ana in March.

Last month, business owners also asked OCTA’s Board of Directors—a collection of elected county officials, including Foley—to contribute aid to the businesses.

However, the board’s majority voted to continue the OCTA’s safety efforts, including signage, security, and social media promotion—even though local business owners said during that meeting that those efforts didn’t ultimately help.

Shortly after, Foley decided to introduce a county agenda to aid the business owners.

Foley said she decided on a $1.2 million grant after she reached out to the businesses to find out their average cost of rent.

The amount that each business will receive is based on a sliding scale that considers the business’s number of employees and the square footage of their shop, Foley said.

Depending on those numbers, each business could receive a $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000 grant.

A spokesperson for Foley, as well as a spokesperson for OCTA, did not respond to a request for comment by press deadline.

Micaela Ricaforte


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