As streetcar construction in downtown Santa Ana continues to disrupt local businesses, the Orange County Transportation Authority agreed Monday to give the city nearly $680,000 to offset lost parking revenue .
OCTA has approved reimbursement for Santa Ana until $679,748 for lost parking revenue and other costs incurred between February 2022 and December 2022.
Earlier this year, workers began laying tracks for the OC Streetcar on Fourth Street in Santa Ana, disrupting traffic and the flow of customers to the shops and restaurants that make up the city’s historic downtown. .
Shortly thereafter, the city began offering free parking at four downtown multi-level parking structures from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. OCTA’s one-time reimbursement will help the city recoup its losses and expand free parking to evenings and weekends, Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said Monday afternoon. Plus, it will cover additional security costs, according to OCTA.
“Downtown has, for the most part, been closed for the past seven months,” said Sarmiento, who also sits on the OCTA board. “It will provide another reason for people to come and visit downtown and help businesses that were badly affected during construction.”
In a statement, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said, “This funding creates another opportunity to help local businesses and the City of Santa Ana stay together despite unforeseen delays.”
Dana Jazayeri, owner of retail gift shop Unlisted, would like to see some of those funds shared with Fourth Street businesses.
“It’s a nice gesture,” he said of OCTA’s disbursement. But the cash provides no immediate benefit to business owners like him who saw their walk-in customers and revenues plummet during construction, Jazayeri said.
Jazayeri and other business owners received grants to offset some of their losses, but he said that was not enough.
In May, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved Foley’s proposal to offer $1.2 million in grants, from American Rescue Plan Act 2021 funds, to business owners affected by the construction. And in March, the Santa Ana City Council approved a $1.5 million business interruption fund along with free parking at all four downtown garages.
“The assistance from the city and county is appreciated, although it is not significant enough to supplement our total losses,” Jazayeri said.
In recent months, workers have opened up parts of Fourth Street, and earlier in September it was extended to a larger stretch – between French and Sycamore – with two lanes open.
“If all goes well, our Four Street segment will be finished soon, or after Thanksgiving, so we can save the Christmas holidays for these merchants,” Sarmiento said.
Once finished, the 4.15 mile long OC tram the route will depart from the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, home to train and bus service, through downtown Santa Ana and the Civic Center to Harbor Boulevard in the town of Garden Grove. The $509 million project is expected to open in 2024.