TimesOC: Santa Ana apologizes for racist incident in its history

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TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

It’s Friday, May 27. I’m Ben Brazil, bringing you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.

A couple of weeks ago, Santa Ana officials decided after more than a century to apologize for the city’s decision to burn down its Chinatown after a man was diagnosed with leprosy.

Earlier this week, the council gathered near the site of the Chinatown fire for a ceremonial signing of a resolution apologizing for the incident.

My colleague Gabriel San Román, who has been covering the issue, attended the event and noted that the scene couldn’t have contrasted more with what had transpired many years ago.

In 1906, the City Council held an emergency meeting after Wong Woh Ye was quarantined with leprosy, though it is now disputed whether he actually had the disease. Following recommendations of the city’s Board of Health, the council unanimously decided to have the fire marshal set Chinatown on fire.

“We want to make sure that we use this opportunity to highlight what happened to our Chinatown here in Santa Ana but also recognize that this isn’t an isolated case,” Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said at the event. “This isn’t to try to unwind [or] rewrite but understand what history we have because we can’t go forward without understanding our past.”

Mayor Vicente Sarmiento signs the Chinatown Apology Resolution.
(Kevin Chang / TimesOC)

For the gathering, the city invited members of the Chinese American community and started the event with a cultural lion dance, wrote San Román. Linn Lee, a U.S. history and social studies curriculum specialist with Santa Ana Unified School District, said that the apology is the first step toward reconciliation.

“If this moment turns into a plaque where students can visit and discuss this incident, then this is a really good point in starting to heal,” she said.

Planning Commissioner Alan Woo, who led the effort with council members Johnathan Hernandez and Thai Viet Phan, said that there could eventually be murals and monuments in remembrance of the Chinatown fire.

“Across the nation, there were other Chinatowns that went through similar experiences, some more violently than what happened here in Santa Ana, but, nevertheless, it occurred,” Woo said. “As we go forward in the next few years, you will start seeing Chinatown rising again.”

The premiere lounge, for patients with a Plus membership, at Hoag Compass.
The premiere lounge, for patients with a Plus membership, at Hoag Compass.
(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)


Hoag Hospital recently launched a new healthcare digital platform for Apple devices that helps patients navigate the hospital’s system. People who use the free application are able to book appointments, message with doctors and review health records, wrote my colleague Lilly Nguyen. People can also subscribe to the Hoag Compass premium plan to access personalized care plans, urgent care support, an on-demand care team and a lounge. “We are changing the traditional trajectory and mindset of health and wellness from one of episodic care — care only when you need it — to a holistic, uninterrupted and ingrained part of a person’s life,” said Robert Braithwaite, president and chief executive of Hoag, in a statement.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach has named a new chief executive to lead the organization as it rescues and rehabilitates sea animals. Glenn Gray, a local resident, will take over the organization later this month. Gray has more than four decades of experience in commercial lending and specialty finance, wrote reporter Sara Cardine.

Residents who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the Great Park in Irvine have for years paid a special tax meant to be used to improve the area. But residents are fed up with the special fee, claiming they have seen little benefit from it. In response to the uproar, the Irvine City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a Great Park Task Force that will evaluate the needs of the neighborhoods around the park and report back to council members with suggestions.

A candlelight vigil was held this week in honor of Chris Duddy, the principal of El Morro Elementary in Laguna Beach who died in his sleep. There was an outpouring of support on social media following the announcement of Duddy’s death. During the vigil, several speakers referenced how impactful he was in the community. “I want everybody to understand, the one thing this guy loved was to teach your kids to be kind, to be happy,” said El Morro teacher Cama Stevens.

Several residents of a Costa Mesa apartment complex will have to be relocated following a lawsuit from the city. City officials alleged in a complaint that the property had been illegally divided into 19 dwellings, when only nine were permitted. The complaint alleges that there weren’t windows in some of the properties and several of the units had sealed doorways. An Orange County judge authorized up to $267,000 in loans be taken out to rehome tenants.

Ranch chefs Tony Esnault, left and Amar Santana will take part in a special event to benefit a nonprofit.
(Ryan Miller)


To celebrate its 55th anniversary, South Coast Plaza is hosting a culinary fundraiser benefitting the nonprofit, Careers through Culinary Arts Program. The program trains underserved youth in high school for a career in the culinary arts, wrote my colleague Sarah Mosqueda. A few major chefs will be cooking for the event, including “Top Chef” winner Amar Santana, Tony Esnault of Knife Pleat, James Hamamori of Hamamori Restaurant & Sushi Bar and others. For Santana, the event is a way to give back to a nonprofit that helped him become the chef he is today.

The OC Parks summer concert series and sunset cinemas events will return from June until Labor Day with 10 free concerts and 12 movie screenings in local parks. The events are a longstanding series in the county for music lovers and movie fans. “Enjoying a free concert or movie with friends and family is a great opportunity for visitors of all ages to experience our parks across the county,” said county Supervisor Doug Chaffee.

Dunkin’ Donuts locations throughout Orange County took part in a national Iced Coffee Day to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. The Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation has awarded more than $37 million to national and local nonprofits since it began in 2006. Some of the programs funded by the money includes Dunkin’ Connecting Joy, which brings gaming experiences to pediatric patients, and the Teen Prom Program, which helps hospitals host prom-like events, wrote Mosqueda.

Fans line up to enter Angel Stadium.
Fans line up to enter Angel Stadium.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)


As a corruption scandal continues to unfold in Anaheim and the city was forced to void a deal on Angel Stadium, reporter Bill Shaikin this week walked through potential scenarios for the future of the baseball team. One of those scenarios includes the team possibly moving to Long Beach. Shaikin also walked through the specifics of the faulty stadium deal.

Corona del Mar’s Niels Hoffmann and Jack Cross finished as runners-up at the CIF Individuals boys’ tennis tournament. Hoffmann and Cross, who are the Surf League doubles champions, defeated Calabasas in the semifinals before falling to University in the title match. My colleague Matt Szabo has the story.

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