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Santa Ana merchants struggling mightily due to Orange County's construction project

CBSLA Reporter Michele Gile spoke to multiple local merchants on 4th Street in Santa Ana who said business has gone down.

By CBS Los Angeles , in Los Angeles , at July 26, 2022

original article published at

Business has not been good for small businesses that are located in Santa Ana’s historic 4th Street district. 

Those business owners made their frustrations heard on Monday.

Santa Ana’s cash strapped 4th Street business owners lined the walls of the Orange County Transportation Authority board room Monday pleading for help. 

They fear the ongoing OC StreetCar construction project is going to bankrupt them. 

In May, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley announced some grants for business owners as a result to the recent financial hardship caused by the Orange County Streetcar project.

However, business owners like Larry Burdick told CBSLA Reporter Michele Gile that hasn’t made up for the money lost as a result to their being less car traffic and parking spaces for customers.

“We have loss of parking. People can’t find out how to find us. Seventy-five percent of our customers are gone. They probably won’t come back,” Burdick said.

For months now, merchants have been dealing with torn up streets, little parking, dust, barricades and a jumble of directional signs that they said has scared away customers. 

“That little money I need so please help us. This is like a second pandemic after that pandemic,” Salon owner Juliet Castro said.

Two weeks ago, Santa Ana announced that key intersections would close entirely in the heart of the historic 4th Street district as work continues on the rail line.

According to business people, they don’t know when the construction will be complete, but they see workers leaving at 3 or 4pm each day. 

“There’s gotta be double or triple shifts and if you don’t have the people, don’t tear up our streets,” Delilah Snell, owner of Alta Baja market, said.

Many OCTA directors, including OC Supervisor Don Wagner, agree with the board attorney that it would be illegal to provide business interruption funds as requested by struggling shop owners. 

They’ve already received some financial support from the government but they’re asking for more to stay afloat. 

“Frankly, I’d stop this project because I don’t think the public is going to get the bang for the buck,” Wagner told Gile. “It’s over 100 million per mile so I’d like to stop the bleeding but what they’re asking today since we can’t give them the business interruption fund is for us to hurry up and I’m all behind us hurrying up.”