Fourth Street Construction Disrupts Business Owners Livelihoods


Jacqueline Ramirez

A group of people check out a street vendor on 4th Street with a sign, that serves as a reminder that businesses are open. Photo taken on May 7, 2022.

Jacqueline Ramirez, Staff Writer

Santa Ana’s Fourth Street is no longer filled with eager customers or bustling Latino-owned businesses. Instead, there is a restricted construction zone and dust. 

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has started construction on a OC Streetcar in 2019. It is meant to be completed by 2024 and the railways are supposed to carry electric streetcars from Santa Ana all the way to Garden Grove. 

It has been over three years since the start and the only progress being made has been railways. Many businesses have suffered dramatically from the loss of revenue. 

Minerva Alvarez, business owner of Shelsye’s Bridal, is one of them. 

“Es lo más horrible que los puede haber pasado. Yo tengo treinta años aquí… nunca nos pidieron opinión y nunca nos dijeron. Tengo pérdida de clientes y pérdida de negocio como un 95 por ciento,” she said. 

(“It’s the most terrible thing that could have happened to us. I have been here for 30 years… they [City of Santa Ana] never asked for our opinions or tell us about the construction. I have a loss in clients and business up to 95 percent,” she said). 

Alvarez added she has not been able to pay for bills or rent. Furthermore, she pleads to the City of Santa Ana to provide more money to cover rent costs. 

In March of this year, the Santa Ana City Council committed to $1.5 million dollars to aid businesses. It has taken a long time for business owners to get their money and only a fraction of the money was used on the business. 

Alisa Ochoa, a food vendor located on 4th Street, agrees that sales are low since there is less parking available. However, she continues to be optimistic. 

“En un futuro va está la calle cuarto muy bien para más oportunidades de trabajo y turismo,” she said. 

(“In the future, 4th Street will be great for more job opportunities and tourism,” she said). 

Ricardo Altarez, a cashier at the Shoe Palace, does not worry about the construction. 

“Honestly, I don’t mind it,” he said. 

“I’m pretty sure the owners mind it ‘cause there’s less people. But to the workers, it’s chill since there are less people coming in,” he added. 

For junior, Jennifer Vivar, she believes the construction is a big reason people do not want to visit. 

“The construction is damaging the image of the city,” she said. 

But senior Jose Ruvalcaba does not think too much about it. 

“It happens,” he nonchalantly said.

When the construction first started, they did not have signs informing people that shops were still open, causing people to assume stores were closed. There were also confusing directions on where to park. The city council of Santa Ana voted to make parking free in their 4th Street parking garages until the end of construction.

But the construction on 4th Street is not the issue. It is the lack of communication between the Santa Ana Council and business owners.

Some issues have been fixed with bright-blue signs and now, free parking, however, the damage has been done. 

The Santa Ana Council may have built the OC Streetcar to help people in the future, but they have neglected those of the present. 

Now more than ever, we need to support small businesses on 4th Street. 

So the next time, you need some entertainment, head down to 4th Street and support local Santa Ana businesses or they might not be there by the time construction is done.