June 2, 2015 After a year of research, coalition building, and program design by community leaders, and then constructive negotiations with the city council and city manager, the City of Santa Ana unanimously adopted a ‘wellness district’ strategy for the renewal of the city’s historic downtown. Over the past decade, downtown renewal efforts have pursued a more typical gentrification course. The area’s legacy as a district of Latino stores, cultural institutions, and residential life has been increasingly displaced. With displacement came increased pressures on the health and wellness of central Santa Ana residents. For instance, research undertaken by TNP indicated how much residents were eating food from gas station convenience stores during their downtown shopping trips. Obesity and adult onset diabetes are a major health issue for the population.
The new wellness strategy is comprehensive. The Council resolution focuses on the re-establishment of Latino identity, community serving small businesses, cultural facilities, safe streets and active transportation options, urban agriculture, and anti-displacement policies—making resident wellness the core principle of downtown renewal.
TNP is proud to have been an economic development strategy advisor over the course of this initiative, which is one of 14 community-based initiatives in the Building Healthy Communities program of The California Endowment. Onward to implementation!