Santa Ana finishes a pocket park big on stormwater capture

City officials cut the ribbon on Monday to celebrate the completion of a new pocket park in Santa Ana.
(Courtesy of the city of Santa Ana)
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A new pocket park in Santa Ana’s Artesia-Pilar neighborhood brings a concrete bike path, mural art and drought tolerant landscaping to the community.

City officials touted the King Street Urban Greening Project during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday as the perfect way to kick off National Parks and Recreation Month.

“It’s a symbol and a message to residents in historically neglected neighborhoods that they matter,” said Santa Ana City Councilman Johnathan Hernandez. “I believe every child and family should have access to a park and green space in their neighborhood. I’m trying to bring that to fruition for our residents.”


Hernandez grew up in the Artesia-Pilar neighborhood before being elected to represent it in Ward 5.

But one of the quarter-acre pocket park’s most unique features seeps deep into the soil.

Designed to capture 17,000 gallons of water per storm, the project features two bioretention basins that will work to replenish Santa Ana’s groundwater supply.

Once a storm passes over the park, the basins and an underground stormwater infiltration system will capture the saturated rain before it is filtered through the soil into the groundwater basin.

“The basin was created to make the streets more accessible for children and families,” Hernandez said. “This neighborhood will no longer have flooding on its streets because we developed the infrastructure needed to capture water.”

A mural by community artist Marina Aguilera is part of King Street's new pocket park.
(Courtesy of the city of Santa Ana )

Previously an unused right-of-way on the corner of King and 10th streets in Santa Ana, the pocket park was funded mostly through a $1.5-million Caltrans grant that was part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative.

The project received an additional $299,000 from the Federal Clean Water Protection Enterprise and another $300,000 from Santa Ana’s District 3 acquisition and development fund.

Though just 10,000 square feet, the park is sorely needed in the city, residents say.

“There was an empty lot that the city closed because people were speeding through that neighborhood,” said Ruby Gonzales-Woo, president of the Artesia-Pilar Neighborhood Assn. “Now we have this park with a mural of our history. We can all reflect back on the some of the good things that have happened in the neighborhood.”

According to the Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore index, Santa Ana’s park system ranked 93 out of the nation’s largest 100 cities this year.

The city scored well below average in terms of acreage and amenities in dropping three slots from last year’s index.

Hernandez lists Artesia-Pilar’s new pocket park as one of four he has fought for in his ward in the past four years, including Ed Caruthers and Friendship parks.

Santa Ana is soliciting ideas to permanently name the King Street Urban Greening Project, which city officials celebrated as a beautification of the Artesia-Pilar neighborhood, both through its gateway and the mural by community artist Marina Aguilera.

“This park gives kids a place to be a kid,” Hernandez said. “It gives families a place where they can make memories.”