SANTA ANA : Rezoning Will Aid Artist Colony Effort

The City Council has rezoned a portion of downtown so that artists may live and work in their studios.

The unanimous action Monday was intended to help create a vibrant artists’ community by offering low-cost work and living space. The village is expected to help revitalize the downtown area, attracting businesses and visitors from throughout the region, city officials said.

“For years, critics and artists have complained that there is a lack of an artistic soul in the county,” said ceramic artist Randy Au, who has worked with the city on the project.

“I hope that together, we can prove the critics wrong and show there is an artistic soul (here),” he said.


Under the plan, artists will be permitted to live and work under the same roof within an area bounded by 1st Street, Main Street, 3rd Street and Broadway.

A conditional-use permit from the Planning Commission is required before an artist may live and work in a studio. Some people whose work involves potentially hazardous materials or equipment, including ceramic artists and glassblowers, must get a conditional-use permit from the city zoning administrator.

City officials have been working since last year to develop the project. In June, the City Council earmarked future money to buy two historic downtown buildings that would be converted into studios where artists can live, work and hold meetings.

The council approved the use of $1.5 million in redevelopment money to buy the Grand Central Building and $2 million to rehabilitate it. The council also approved $300,000 to purchase the historic Southern Counties Gas Co. building--also known as the Old Handlebar Saloon--along with $500,000 for renovations, city officials said.


City Councilman Thomas E. Lutz praised the planned village as a potential boon to the entire county that would “pull in even more arts and culture into our cities.”