What happens today could set the stage for the November general election, and impact the future of Santa Ana politics. If voters want Iglesias out, they’ll have three different replacement candidates, all backed by different people, to choose from.
City Council members on Tuesday night voted to repeal their initial approval of 2525, a much-contested apartments project in north Santa Ana, and authorized a request by developer Mike Harrah to add up to 415 apartments to his tower at One Broadway Plaza, which has been in development for at least 15 years.
Council members Vicente Sarmiento and David Penaloza have flipped on the project, forming a clear majority against the controversial apartments as a decision makes its way to council members’ desks on whether or not to turn the project over to voters – or rescind their original vote entirely.
County elections officials have certified a referendum petition by residents who oppose and live next to the 2525 apartments project, a 256-unit development by developer Ryan Ogulnick that got the City Council’s final approval on January 23. At the time, residents opposed to the project had warned they would challenge it with a referendum petition, which they filed with the city in late February.
In-person voting has been cancelled for a special recall election in Westminster. It’s still up in the air whether Santa Ana’s special recall election will follow suit. Meanwhile, county elections officials will proceed to review a referendum movement against a controversial Santa Ana apartments project and a ballot initiative to relocate a planned Veteran’s Cemetery in Irvine.
Councilman Juan Villegas, who also works as a special officer at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, is publicly alleging that one the key people behind the controversial 2525 N. Main St. project admitted to him their involvement in a dark money campaign to influence the 2018 Santa Ana city council elections – which involved hiding $320,000 in campaign money through a shell company.
Residents of both the Santa Anita neighborhood and Park Santiago neighborhood agree the Council has ignored their opposition to development near their homes — but residents of Santa Anita, a lower-income and predominantly Latino area, say they weren’t listened to as much as residents of Park Santiago, which has more white and higher-income residents.
A much-disputed apartment complex is moving forward in north Santa Ana, after two years of uncertainty and protests by nearby homeowners who say the project is too large for the surrounding neighborhood. The proposed apartments at 2525 N. Main St. – located in the city’s Park Santiago neighborhood – were authorized to proceed by City Council members in a 4-3 vote at their Tuesday meeting, after much downsizing by developer Ryan Ogulnick’s company Vineyards Development Corp. Council members Ceci Iglesias, David Penaloza, Jose Solorio and Vicente Sarmiento voted in support of the project. Council members Juan Villegas, newly-elected Phil Bacerra, and Mayor Miguel Pulido opposed the project.
Today’s vote by the City Council will come after more than two years of protests and uncertainty among city officials and residents surrounding the project, which prompted numerous revisions to it by developer Ryan Ogulnick and his team at Vineyards Development Corp.