Santa Ana Councilmember Jessie Lopez newsletter header
Spring 2022
As we begin another year together, I would like to express my appreciation for your continued support through your readership, partnership, and friendship.

Hard to believe, but we are already two months into 2022. February is the month that we celebrate Lunar New Year, Valentine's Day, and Black History Month. Taking stock over the days behind and the years ahead, I hope to be mindful of how I treat those around me and focus on sending love, kindness, and appreciation to my neighbors, friends, family, and Ward 3 residents. May your new year be bountiful in all the ways that are meaningful to you.

As I enter my second year representing you on the Santa Ana City Council, I remain as dedicated as ever to advocate for policies that are needed to create a more just, connected, and equitable Santa Ana. I’ve been hitting the ground running, spending time planning events for Ward 3 residents, meeting with stakeholders, supporting our newest businesses, and working with our educational and faith group leaders.

I’d like to say thank you to every one of you who contacts me with your suggestions, thoughts, or concerns. I am proud of our fellow Santanerxs that engage with our city staff, with my office, or interact with me through our office hour meetings.

To you, your loved ones, and to the folks that work on behalf of all of us for a brighter future, I wish you a Happy Lunar New Year filled with great prosperity, a joyful and affectionate Valentine's Day, and an educational and enlightening Black History Month.
I look forward to another year of working together!

Your councilmember,
Jessie Lopez,
Ward 3
In This Issue...
Local Updates:
  • Santiago Creek Clean Up
  • Santiago Park Updates
  • New Homeless Services Team
  • Neighborhood Block Transformation Contest
Protect yourself from catalytic converter theft
Protect yourself from scams
Sculpture Unveiled at Willits and Sullivan

Contact My Office:

Santa Ana City Hall
20 Civic Center Plaza, M-31
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Angie Morris, Executive Assistant
(714) 647-6900
Ward & City News
No Fees for Neighborhood Association Events
In January, the Santa Ana City Council approved a new events permit policy. The Council voted to waive facility use permit fees in City parks for recognized neighborhood associations. Neighborhood associations will work with City staff to utilize City-owned facilities and/or City-owned or controlled public properties for meetings or special events. Other fees may apply, depending on the event. I hope this will make it easier for our many neighborhood groups to have fun events that help bring the community together.
State of the City 2022
Lopezs table at State of the City
All of the recipients of keys to the City
Lopez poses with another recipient of a key to the city
The state of the City is strong! That was the message that Mayor Sarmiento delivered in January during his State of the City address at the Elks Lodge, where he highlighted the good work we are doing in Santa Ana, from protecting renters and helping residents and businesses affected by the pandemic, to seeing economic growth and the development of green infrastructure.

I was proud to attend the event and accept a key to the City on behalf of Latino Health Access CEO America Bracho. If you missed it, you can watch the address in the video below.
Santiago Creek Cleanup
On January 31, 2022 DMS Landscape started a Santiago Creek clean-up from Flower Street to the I-5 freeway. Reminder notices were sent to 15 property owners whose property crosses the creek if they were interested in having their property cleaned up at the same time. Since the City is not responsible for clean-up of private property, they were to contract with DMS directly. Three property owners contacted DMS. One property owner wanted a dead branch removed, another requested a small tree sapling removed, and the third was not interested due to cost. Here are before and after pictures:
Before 1 shows a tree surrounded by weeds and brush
Before 2 shows a sea of weeds brush and shrubs
Before 3 also shows weeds brush and shrubs
After 1 shows less weeds and brush
After 2 shows less weeds and brush
After 3 shows less weeds and brush
Santiago Park Getting Upgrades, Host, and Security
The Santiago Gashouse renovation project is nearly half done, I wanted to assure you that things are progressing! During construction, a water main broke and flooded the work site. To continue construction, the project was redesigned to relocate the utilities and raise the grade. With the redesign, there is an opportunity to add a new playground area, slides, and install electrical infrastructure to provide lighting for the parking lot.

There are several more updates coming to Santiago Park, as well, including:

  • Upgrading the Nature Center to Santiago Creek Eco Center, operated by the Santa Ana Zoo. 
  • The interior renovation will turn one of the rooms into an exhibit for the public coming in, with dioramas, reptile exhibits, and more.
  • Roll out a new logo and additional signage so people can find the center. 
  • We plan to contract with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy to help with community restoration events, removing invasive species, etc. They are the biggest (and best) land manager around and already do a lot of work through contracts with the County, City of Irvine, Irvine Company, City of Newport Beach, OCTA, Waste Management, and more.
  • Install monitored security cameras.
  • Park Host
  • We will have a Park Host at Santiago Park and are in the process of interviewing applicants. The primary role of a Park Host is to have a visible presence in the park and serve as the park ambassador for the surrounding community. This is an unpaid position; however, the Park Host may live in a city-owned two- or three-bedroom travel trailer including utility hook-ups and service at no cost to the Park Host. The Park Host is required to live on site year round to provide excellent customer service to visitors and give information on park facilities, resources, park rules and attractions.
  • Park Security
  • We plan to have dedicated private park security services (one person per shift) at the park Sunday through Saturday 8 a.m. to midnight. The City is seeking private security services for many departments via a request for proposals (RFP) process that is currently in progress. 
City Manager's Homeless Update
You can watch the latest update to the City Council on the City of Santa Ana's response to homelessness and homeless-related issues at this video. You can stay in the know on the homelessness situation in Santa Ana by watching the City Manager’s monthly updates live at City Council meetings or by watching the video on our YouTube channel, as well as by checking our Homeless Services Data Dashboard.
New Homeless Services Team and Phone Line
Santa Ana's newly-formed SMART (Santa Ana Multi-Disciplinary Response Team) program is a pilot program between the City of Santa Ana and City Net. This program is our newest effort to provide trauma-informed care services to address homelessness within the city. Santa Ana has had a strong and successful relationship with City Net for several years and it is through this program that the City expects to expand and enhance outreach efforts.

Should you have a concern regarding homelessness, need help or are requesting help for a person currently experiencing homelessness, please call (714) 242-3706 or report it online via the mySantaAna app. The team works 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week and is made up of outreach workers, case managers, substance abuse professionals, mental health clinicians, nurse practitioners and plain-clothes, private safety officers. The team also manages a dedicated, live dispatch/call center to answer calls from residents and businesses related to homeless concerns, as well as calls redirected from police and fire dispatch.

The goal of SMART is to provide more effective outreach and engagement while better utilizing city resources through a diversion of homeless calls from the Santa Ana Police Department and Orange County Fire Authority. The City’s QOLT (Quality of Life Teams), along with Code Enforcement and Public Works, stand ready to assist on any homeless calls where additional support is needed. SMART will address all non-emergency homeless calls in an effort to increase outreach focused on providing services, addressing mental health and helping more individuals transition out of homelessness. If you have concerns regarding homelessness, please submit your issue via:
COVID-19 Update
Free Covid 19 testing at the Santa Ana Zoo Tues thru Fri 9 am to 6 pm
While we all hoped we would be out of the woods by now, unfortunately the pandemic is still with us. Over 1,000 Santa Ana residents have now lost their lives due to COVID-19, so I wanted to share a little information to help keep that number from growing. There are a few things you can do to protect yourselves and those around you from getting severely ill from COVID:
  • Get vaccinated. Vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious cases of COVID-19 and are approved for everyone ages 5 and up. Don’t forget to get boosted if you haven’t already! A third shot will offer you much better protection against the omicron variant.
  • Wear a KN95 or N95 mask whenever you are indoors in public. A surgical mask will work, too, but offers less protection; you can also pair a surgical mask with a cloth mask for better protection. Cloth masks alone are no longer enough. Although the State no longer requires masks for vaccinated individuals in many indoor settings, it’s still a good idea.
  • Avoid gathering indoors with unvaccinated people and maintain social distance outdoors.

If you’re feeling sick, stay home. If you’ve been exposed or have been in a risky situation, get tested. I helped launch a partnership with United Across Borders Foundation to have a Ward 3 testing site by Santa Ana Zoo. Additionally, Latino Health Access downtown offers testing, and many other community clinics have become available.
Zoo Breaks Ground on River Otter Exhibit
Lopez poses with Zoo staff and a donkey
Lopez speaks at the otter ground breaking
A new exhibit that will showcase giant river otters swimming through a waterfall while monkeys play above is coming to the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park. The Zoo had a ceremonial groundbreaking Friday, January 14, for the giant river otter habitat and primate trails renovation and expansion at the Amazon’s Edge exhibit.

The $6.6 million project is the most complex that the Zoo has undertaken and will bring new life and an immersive experience for guests and animals alike. It is expected to open in summer 2023. The project is the first phase of the Zoo’s Master Plan for further development and is made possible by $6 million in parks improvement funds from the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Agency and $600,000 from the Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo in the form of grants and donations.
Neighborhood Block Transformation Contest
Award winning beautiful block. Enter your block by May 2022.
Did you know you can enter your neighborhood block improvements to win the Neighborhood Block Transformation Contest? Property improvements must be for community beautification with a focus on the parkway areas. Send both your neighborhood block before- and after-improvement pictures by May 20, 2022, for a chance to win two award-recognition signs and a $100 gift card!
Scholarship Prep Breaks Ground in Ward 3
Proposed rendering of the new scholarship prep building
Scholarship Prep broke ground in November on their first ground-up campus, set to serve Santa Ana students in grades transitional kindergarten (TK) through third grade. Scholarship Prep is a TK-8 public charter school that provides scholarship pathways for students through rigorous academics, intensive athletics and arts programs.
Councilmember's Projects
More Streetlight + Street Repair Funding
Thanks to careful financial planning during the pandemic, the City of Santa Ana has an additional $42 million available in its budget for one-time spending. In December, the City Council had to decide how to spend some surplus in the budget, and after many community conversations, I pushed hard and advocated for more street lighting and more street repairs.

The one-time spending was approved in January and the money will be spent on:

  • Streetlights 
  • Graffiti removal 
  • Tree trimming 
  • Sidewalk, alley and traffic improvements 
  • More library services 
  • City events 
  • A pilot graffiti arts program 

Thank you for reaching out and letting me know what you wanted to see funded.
Resolution Against Antisemitism
At the June 3, 2021, meeting, I proposed that the Council should do something to curb anti-Semitic hate. On Jan. 18, the Council adopted a resolution condemning the recent rise in anti-Semitic violence and harassment targeting Jewish people, and standing in solidarity with those affected by antisemitism. I do not stand for hate or discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or any other means.
Sculpture Unveiling at Willits and Sullivan
The new statue at Willits and Sullivan
I had the great privilege of helping Larry Gonzales unveil his beautiful art piece on Saturday, Jan. 22. The 14-foot sculpture is titled “Coyotl/Coyote,” made of welded steel and a concrete base.

Inspired by the Nahuatl poetry of the Aztec ruler Nezahualcoyotl, hence, flowers in the “tongue” representing “flowery words” or “poetry.” The sculpture’s imagery takes inspiration from Indigenous Aztec and Nahuatl people and language that include words we still use today. The howling animal is considered sacred among many native people and has played central roles in their storytelling, legends, and ceremonies for millennia. The plaque includes two poems by Nezahualcoyotl translated into English, Spanish, and Nahuatl, “A Memory That I Leave,” and “The Mockingbird.”

The plaque also has a tribute to David Vazquez, a Santa Ana resident who devoted his life to preserving, translating, and teaching his native Nahuatl language and culture at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana. He passed away in January 2021.

The Nahuatl hieroglyphics on the plaque were developed by Mr. Vazquez. The language of the local Tongva tribe, which once occupied Santa Ana, belongs in the same root family as the Nahuatl language, which was widely spoken in the central Mexico region for hundreds of years prior to European arrival.

The celebration was made possible by the collaboration between the City, local residents and coalitions, and Santa Ana Unified School District.
Proclamation to Former Parks Director Gerardo Mouet
In our January Council meeting, I presented a proclamation to Gerardo Mouet for his years of outstanding service and contributions to the community, received by his wife on his behalf. Born and raised in Mexico, Mr. Mouet came to the United States as a young man and started working for the City of Santa Ana in 1990. He worked his way up to eventually become the Executive Director of the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Agency.

During his tenure with the Parks department, he helped add 10 new parks, support joint-use projects, and enhanced engagement with the community. He dedicated his time to projects enhancing the quality of life for Santa Ana residents, and for that, we are eternally grateful! Thank you for all you’ve done, Mr. Mouet!
Gerardo Mouet proclamation to his wife
Check Out Our Newest Little Free Library
little free library group shot
Little Free Library
There’s a new little library in town, and I’m so happy it’s in Ward 3! Many thanks to Open Hands of Hope and Dynamite Book club for helping to restore/paint a new little library for Ward 3 resident Tay Ashton. Mabury Park is happy to welcome another little library. Take a book, leave a book.
Clean Up in Santiago Creek
lopez speaks to members of the quality of life team
Workers pose for a photo
workers cleaning up along santiago creek bed
Workers cleaning up under the 22 freeway
In January, I spent a morning with our Quality of Life Team, Caltrans, CityNet, Santa Ana’s sanitation team, and Orange Police Department. This multi-agency partnership was a request I made last year due to the ongoing issues in Ward 3.

We started at Hart Park and made our way to Fisher Park. Along the way, we cleaned up the creek and painted over the graffiti. Caltrans will return to re-paint under the 5 freeway underpass (nearest Broadway). At the end of the month, another Creek clean-up will take place, and I’ll make sure to keep you updated via email.

I want to thank Santa Police Sgt. Montiel for helping bring all agencies together. Together, we can all do our part to help keep Santa Ana beautiful.
MainPlace Mall Transformation Groundbreaking
A group of people in suits and hardhats shoveling dirt at the MainPlace Mall groundbreaking
The MainPlace Mall is reinventing itself to keep it up with the times. Last month, I joined in the groundbreaking of the first piece of the Mall’s transformation, the Paloma apartments. We are so excited for everything this entire project will bring to Santa Ana, including 656 multifamily units, a concert venue with 4,000-person capacity, 140,000 square feet of office space, and 492,000 square feet of small shop space and two large department stores.

MainPlace Mall is an important economic asset for our city, and I’m happy to see the owner, Centennial, investing in the future of our community. Additionally, a greater supply of housing will have a positive effect on our City, potentially helping to bring down the overall cost of rent and putting a roof over more families’ heads.
Cracking Down on Catalytic Converter Thefts
Five recovered stolen catalytic converters
There is something you can do to help stop the rise in catalytic converter thefts! It’s hard to trace stolen car parts, but you can have your vehicle’s license plate or vehicle identification number (VIN) etched into the catalytic converter. Having your license plate number etched into the converter not only deters criminals from stealing it, but also will allow you to be reunited with this very expensive car part should the thief be caught. ExperTec, on Talbert Avenue in Huntington Beach, is offering free catalytic converter etchings on the first and third Saturday of each month, from 10 a.m. to noon, to those who make an appointment by calling (714) 848-9222.
Avoiding Scams
Recently, a thread on NextDoor caught my attention. Teenagers were going door-to-door selling things like chocolate, coupon books, and magazines claiming to be from Santa Ana High School. One staff member from SAHS posted that the school doesn’t have any fundraisers going on where students will go door-to-door, and others commented that these teenagers were from LA scamming for money.

There was also a recent Facebook post from the Riverside County Sheriff's department talking about panhandlers, and how some cases were even tied to human trafficking. While some cases of panhandling may be legitimate, the Riverside County Sheriff had some advice: “Please don’t make it rain in the intersections. Donate to a reputable charity or organization that will ensure your donations go to the cause you intend it to go to.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shares four signs something is a scam:
  1. Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know.
  2. Scammers say there’s a prize or problem
  3. They pressure you to act immediately 
  4. They tell you there’s a specific way to pay

Is a student that you don’t know trying to sell you something? Ask the student who the faculty member in charge is and tell them you will support their cause once you can verify it with the school. Reach out to the faculty member in charge via the school’s directory, which is usually posted on the district’s website. After you’ve contacted the faculty member in charge and they’ve verified it, the faculty member can provide you with details of how to support the cause.

NEVER provide your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.

If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy, or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.

Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to make a decision. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is likely a scammer.
Attention CA Homeowners you may be eligible for mortgage relief
COVID-19 Mortgage Relief Program
The State of California is providing grants for homeowners who are behind on their mortgages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on eligibility requirements and how to apply are now available at
Affordable connectivity program. Has illustration of three homes and 14 people on various wireless devices.
Affordable Connectivity Program
The FCC has launched a long-term program to help low-income residents afford internet access. Eligible participants will get a discount of up to $30 per month for internet services. Households must meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:
  • An income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines;
  • Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline;
  • Participates in tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
  • Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income program.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
If you lost a loved one to COVID-19, you may be eligible for a government program that pays for funeral expenses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will pay up to $9,000 for funeral expenses for loved ones who died of COVID-19. Survivors can apply for benefits by contacting FEMA, toll-free, at 844-684-6333.

To find out if you qualify, read FEMA’s Funeral Assistance FAQs. Unfortunately, FEMA reports that scammers are contacting people and pretending to offer to register them for assistance. To avoid those scams, here are some tips:
FEMA will not contact you until you call or apply for assistance.
The government won’t ask you to pay anything to get this benefit. 
Don’t give your own or your deceased loved one’s personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue.

If you think you received a scam call, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the Federal Trade Commission at
Micro-Business Grants
A graphic of a man and tools in the background. The graphic provides information about the new microbusiness grants of Orange County.
The Orange County Workforce Development Board has been awarded $3.9 million in California Microbusiness COVID-19 Relief Grant Program funding to support underserved microbusinesses and entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19. Small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the county will be able to apply for payments of $2,500 from Feb. 14 through March 15, 2022. This includes businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, individuals without documentation, individuals with limited English proficiency, and business owners located in low wealth communities.
Just for Residents

FREE Food Distribution Events
Get a listing of the free weekly food distributions available in Santa Ana.
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