Santa Ana considering rainbow crosswalks to honor LGBTQ community

A woman wearing rainbow-colored socks walks across a rainbow-colored crosswalk.
A woman wearing rainbow-colored socks walks across a rainbow-colored crosswalk during a gay pride celebration in San Francisco’s famous Castro neighborhood in 2015. Santa Ana is looking into installing rainbow crosswalks in the city to honor the LGBTQ community.
(Getty Images)

Santa Ana is looking into installing rainbow crosswalks in the city to honor the LGBTQ community.

The City Council briefly discussed the issue at a meeting Tuesday night following a presentation from city staff. Council members didn’t vote on the issue, but spoke in favor of the crosswalks.

The council addressed the issue at the request of Mayor Vicente Sarmiento and after a constituent contacted the city last month to request the installation of rainbow crosswalks in downtown Santa Ana. As noted in a city staff report, the resident said that not much is done by cities and organizations to commemorate the LGBTQ community other than celebrating Pride Month.

“We have such a richness here and such a long tradition of being not just supporters, not just those that do things every once a month, we’ve done things here in Santa Ana that we should be very, very proud of, going back to being the first community in the county to recognize Harvey Milk and being the home of the Pride parade...” Sarmiento said at the meeting.

“We shouldn’t confuse this with saying this is going to solve problems, because this really is a symbolic gesture. It doesn’t solve the hardships that the LGBTQ+ community has to endure. But what it does, especially for young people in our community, at least they know that...we embrace diversity. We embrace the fact that we have young people growing up in very hostile environments, but at least they know that their city cares for them and loves them. This is one way that can be done all year long, and not just once a month.”

Several other cities around the country have painted crosswalks with rainbow colors around the country, including Long Beach, West Hollywood and San Francisco.

City staff suggested the first rainbow crosswalks could be installed on Broadway at 2nd Street. However, council members proposed different locations during the meeting.

“I think this is something important and that we could be proud of and show more prominently on a more prominent and visible intersection,” Mayor Pro Tem David Penaloza said, proposing crosswalks at Main and Fourth streets, Fourth Street and Broadway Avenue and Fourth and Spurgeon streets.

Councilman Johnathan Hernandez said the crosswalk could be near the LGBTQ Center at 1605 N. Spurgeon St.

Councilwoman Thai Viet Phan suggested that the crosswalks use the design of the progress Pride flag that includes chevrons with various colors to represent people of color, transgender people and those living with HIV/AIDS.

“In my opinion, it would better represent our community, which is a community of color,” she said.

The city’s Public Works Agency estimated it will cost about $8,000 to paint one rainbow crosswalk. So if the city wants to paint all four crosswalks at an intersection, it will cost about $32,000.

Since it was created by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, the rainbow flag has become an important symbol for the LGBTQ community, with the color spectrum signifying the vast spectrum among human sexual preferences and gender. Santa Ana flies the rainbow flag at City Hall each year to honor Pride Month and Harvey Milk Day.

The city staff gathered the council’s comments Tuesday and were directed to bring the rainbow sidewalk proposal back as an agenda item at a later date.

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