Santa Ana Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez is concerned that the city might be spending too much money without council votes to approve the expenses, and last night asked for staffers to come back with more information on the issue.

Alvarez singled out the Community Development Agency and department head Cynthia Nelson. She said there were large sums of money spent by that department on, specifically, a facade improvement program in the city’s downtown.

The “city was apparently spending millions” without council votes, Alvarez said.

The city’s facade improvement program offers cash rebates to property owners and tenants who want to renovate the exteriors of their businesses and buildings. The city website says the rebate is “to encourage new investment, increase property values, and facilitate deferred or much needed exterior improvements.”

City Manager Dave Ream has a $25,000 discretionary spending limit by way of the city charter, city officials said, and Ream can spend up to that amount without bringing it to the council for approval. However, other city departments aren’t bound by the same restriction, Alvarez said.

Alvarez said that a report on city spending provided to her by the city manager’s office had some “rather interesting information” but directed staffers to provide more details on some of the city’s loan agreements.

We’ll be requesting a copy of the report Alvarez referenced and will report more details as they emerge.


Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.