• Gabriel San Roman

Slingshot: Mayor Pulido's Parting Gift to Downtown SanTana


At long last, the "Pulidiato" in SanTana is finally coming to an end after 26 years. Miguel Pulido, 64, became the first Latino mayor of Orange County's largest Latino city back in 1994. When sworn in, the politician told a packed council chambers that the time had come "to dream about the future, to dream about the things we can do."


But when "muffler shop" Miguel successfully ran for Santa Ana city council before becoming mayor, he earned critics within the Latino community, especially with mailers that peddled fear--not dreams--about "illegals" being a "public nuisance." Statements Pulido later made opposing Proposition 187 in '94 were viewed as conveniently timed weak salsa.


"The support he had in the Latino community was very soft, but we heard he was going to be a new Pulido, a new leader," John Palacio, a MALDEF activist, told the Los Angeles Times in '94. "What we really saw was vintage Pulido, a man who will sell his community out for political gain."


After more than a quarter century and 12 consecutive election victories, a new generation of SanTaneros are lobbing the same criticism at the "mayor-for-life" on his way out.


The ire arrives after Pulido and a council majority approved the gifting of a city-owned parking lot in downtown SanTana to Mike Harrah, the mayor's longtime developer buddie. Harrah's $100-million project will transform the site into "3rd and Broadway," a mixed-use development that will include a 16-story apartment complex, 10-story boutique hotel and retail space.


"I believe it's going to change the downtown for the better," said Pulido during the Nov. 17 council meeting. "This is going to be an iconic project within Orange County. If I could do this 20 times over, I would."


A coalition of community groups in SanTana called foul last week over the 5-1-1 vote to approve the project. Not only did the city gift the 1.4-acre lot to Harrah's company, Caribou Industries, but also pledged to cover the $13 million cost to demolish and prep the site.


“It is disappointing to see time and time again our city council side with developers and a small portion of individuals who often times do not live in Santa Ana and will not live with the repercussions [of these decisions],” said Karla Juarez, a resident. “It will take Santa Ana $13 million to invest in this partnership with the developer on the project of 3rd and Broadway to build luxury homes and a hotel."


Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities, Latino Health Access, El Centro Cultural de Mexico, Thrive Santa Ana and the Kennedy Commission joined the coalition of 17 community groups criticizing the development plan. Juarez suggested transforming the parking lot into a green space, a notion Pulido shot down during the council meeting when he bluntly said that the city wasn't going to build a park there, even as SanTana remains notoriously park-poor.


In addition to 3rd and Broadway, Harrah acquired the historic YMCA building from SanTana last year with plans to develop a boutique hotel over resident demands for a community center. He also recently sold the old OC Register site to Amazon for $63.2 million.


Harrah's passion project, One Broadway Plaza, remains an undeveloped fenced-off pile of dirt. If ever built, the 37-story skyscraper would be the tallest tower in OC. For now, it's a limp phallic symbol in the developer's imagination.


But if 3rd and Broadway doesn't suffer the same fate, the arrival of a street car down Calle Cuatro by 2022 and a mixed-use apartment development at the First American Title Co. site along with it will definitely intensify gentrification in downtown.


Pulido may be gone, but his legacy--from the Artists Village to 3rd and Broadway--will remain for some time to come.


- Gabriel San Román


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Your Mouse Muckraker / Photo by Federico Medina


Mouse Muckraker


It finally happened.


A Disney influencer tested positive for Covid-19 after visiting a theme park.


Since the pandemic shuttered the Disneyland Resort for months, Mouse House vloggers have been left without much content to create. When Downtown Disney reopened during the summer surge of coronavirus, it was painful to see YouTube's "rat pack" of internet personalities try to scrap together an episode based on Starbucks drinks and holiday snacks.


The reopening of Buena Vista Street in California Adventure, usually the red-headed stepchild of the resort, arrived this month like a godsend for influencers starved for a chance to step inside a Disney theme park with camera in hand.


Maxwell Glick, better known online as Mr. Cheezy Pop, visited California Adventure on November 19 when its gates swung back open to the public for limited shopping and dining options. In his vlog, Glick roamed around Buena Vista Street with an N95 mask on. He returned to the park on November 22 for a follow up episode published last week.


During that trip, Glick removed his mask to enjoy a martini and a meal at the Carthay Circle's outside dining area.


The timeline becomes important as the influencer announced in a November 27 tweet that he tested positive for Covid-19.


"I just want to stress to you all how important it is to Stay Home right now and if you must be out to Wear a Mask," he tweeted. "This thing is no joke. I've hardly left the couch for three days now."


The onset of symptoms falls well within Covid's incubation period, suggesting that Glick may have been contagious when visiting Downtown Disney and California Adventure. Did he catch Covid from DCA's opening day? That's nearly impossible to say.


Glick did mention in his vlogs that he hadn't dined out anywhere since the pandemic, save for his two trips to Carthay Circle (other foodie episodes feature recent dispatches from Downtown Disney and Knott's Berry Farm, but none from a sit-down restaurant).


All of this isn't to pile on the influencer. Glick's a good guy who once teamed with Sensory Access for an episode that highlighted sensory break areas at Disneyland for people who suffer from conditions like autism or ADHD. Tell me what vlogger does that?


But his words of caution are to be considered, especially as LA County shuts down outdoor dining and other theme park vloggers can be seen eating and drinking at the same table though they don't live together.


Coronavirus is much more prevalent during this fall-into-winter surge. A theme park hiatus isn't the worst thing in the world, even if you're an influencer.


By the Byline


Be sure to pick up a copy of the Los Angeles Times this morning to check out my story on the Corbin Center of the front page of Times OC. Also, stay posted this Friday for my montly "Off the Page" column for LibroMobile.


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Lead photo: Pulido awards Harrah in 2014 / YouTube screenshot

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