City of Santa Ana takes steps to protect older neighborhoods from industrial pollution in historic environmental justice initiative

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The Santa Ana City Council approved a moratorium on new industrial uses in affected areas.

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The City of Santa Ana has suspended permitting new or expanded industrial activity near two of the city’s most historic neighborhoods that were built before zoning became standard practice. These historically disadvantaged neighborhoods face health risks from pollution, which the City is addressing as part of a groundbreaking environmental justice initiative in its new General Plan.

The moratorium on new, expanded or relocated industrial uses affects more than 130 industrial businesses located in and around the densely populated and largely Latino neighborhoods of Logan and Lacy, as well as downtown. During the moratorium, City staff will continue to track and report data, research appropriate regulations, and coordinate with external regulatory agencies and City departments to provide comprehensive analysis and in-depth assessment of impacts environmental issues of companies. Staff will determine whether additional and permanent measures are necessary and make recommendations to the Santa Ana City Council and Planning Commission.

Past land-use planning practices, such as mixing residential, industrial and commercial areas in close proximity to each other, have placed an inequitable environmental and health burden on affected neighborhoods. The General Plan, which the City Council adopted in 2022, aims to address these inequities and includes 77 environmental justice implementation measures that address air quality, harmful uses, water safety and security. water, residential exposure to lead in soil, and other environmental public health issues.

As part of the General Plan, the City created the Neighborhood Initiatives and Environmental Services (NIES) section within the Planning and Building Agency to oversee these efforts. NIES also recently formed the Environmental Justice Community Action Committee, whose purpose is to collaborate and provide guidance on implementing the General Plan’s environmental justice policies and actions. No other city in Orange County has taken this unique approach, or invested as much human resources, to address environmental justice issues.

Moratorium on industrial uses

The City Council approved an emergency ordinance on May 21, 2024, extending a 45-day moratorium for 10 months and an additional 15 days to suspend the approval, initiation, establishment, relocation or expansion of uses industrial in certain areas of central Santa Ana. The area affected by the moratorium, known as the Transit Zoning Code (TZC), is located in the heart of Santa Ana, spans approximately 450 acres and encompasses the Logan, Lacy and Downtown neighborhoods.

Lacy and Logan are more densely populated than Santa Ana as a whole, with a combined population density of 15,531.7 people per square mile. Logan is Santa Ana’s oldest Mexican and Mexican-American neighborhood, dating back to 1886.

The initial moratorium was adopted to address concerns about the negative impacts of industrial activities on public health, safety and well-being in affected neighborhoods. City staff have received repeated complaints about code enforcement and air emissions regarding industrial facilities, including recurring unauthorized work and land use violations involving large commercial vehicles blocking street access and impacting nearby residents, and a fire at an industrial facility on August 29, 2023. this caused great concern.

Orange County Fire Authority data shows 62 calls for service in 2022 and 66 calls for service for advanced life-sustaining emergencies. Specifically, 29 of the calls for service that OCFA responded to in 2022 were related to health issues related to respiratory issues, including chest pain and cardiac arrest, as well as long-term diabetes issues and chest pain. In 2023, the number of health-related calls will increase by almost 7%.

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