El Centro Cultural de Mexico Faces Eviction

Categories: Culture, politics
elcentro.jpg
El Centro Cultural de Mexico, a long standing non-profit in the city of Santa Ana, faces eviction by mid-July. The award-winning organization has been housed for the past five years at the Knights of Pythias building on the corner of West Fifth Street and Broadway. The location had been one of stability for El Centro's numerous free programs, including their notable son jarocho jarana classes, even as multi-year leases with the building's landlords transitioned to a month-to-month contract. Then, on June 9, unexpectedly, the non-profit received a 30-day notice--the minimum allowable--to vacate the premises.

"For five years, we've made rent every month" says Centro board member Carolina Sarmiento. "This eviction is not about our ability to pay rent." Sarmiento and Yenni Diaz, a volunteer with the non-profit, don't know the reason for getting the boot beyond property managers claiming to have a new partner who has a new vision for the second floor of the building above the El Curtido restaurant. Calls placed by the Weekly to Diane E. Dixon of Broadway Improvement Co., Inc. for further elaboration have not yet been returned. Meanwhile, tenants of the other side of the Knights of Pythias building opposite el Centro have not received similar notices, thirty-day or otherwise.

El Centro Cultural de Mexico is one-half of the organizing wing behind the city's annual "Noche de Altares" Día de los Muertos celebration--Santa Ana's premier community event. They recently were awarded a sizable grant from the California Endowment to fund their programs, and thus had expansion on their minds, not eviction. The non-profit was even able to offer two part-time employment opportunities for youth organizers. The notice saying that everything has to be cleared out by July 14th has caught board members and volunteers off-guard.

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Jennie Warren
Luis Sarmiento (far right) belts out a song with other members of Son Del Centro

"It's ridiculous, given the twenty-three classes we host and the number of people we provide services for, to notify our community, have us pack, and plan for the summer within that time frame," Sarmiento adds. The coming eviction has complicated additional projects coming out of the Centro that were set to soon take place including their youth summer program, Barrio Writers, and Encuentro de Jaraneros.

This April, Voice of OC reported that Mayor Miguel Pulido and the Santa Ana City Council voted to divert a portion of six-figure federal Community Development Block Grant funds away from the construction of two new clay tennis courts in order build a downtown cultural center/plaza. Councilman Vince Sarmiento (no relation to Carolina) was noted as saying the cultural plaza would reinforce the area's Latino identity as charges of gentrification have been mounting. Without knowing many details about the plans, members of El Centro Cultural de Mexico nevertheless see the eviction of their already existing cultural center in downtown as interconnected to gentrification occurring elsewhere in the city.

"This is representative of the changes happening on Fourth Street," says longtime Centro volunteer Yenni Diaz. "Business owners there are at the mercy of their landlords, as we now find ourselves to be."

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Mary Bell
8th Annual Noche de Altares

As for their immediate situation, the way forward is still being formulated. "We don't know exactly where we are all going to go," says Diaz. "On Tuesday we had our volunteer meeting," she adds. "Later, we had a meeting with our community partners to come together and collectively respond to this emergency." Part of that response is to host a volunteer forum open to the community on Tuesday, June 28. In the meantime, El Centro Cultural de Mexico is soliciting donations to their "new building fund." Interested parties can send checks to P.O. Box 11345, Santa Ana, 92711, writing "new building fund" on the memo line.

"We leave sad but prideful because el Centro is not simply a space and walls but el Centro is the heartbeat of our culture with a intense necessity to express itself," Centro volunteer Elesbaan Castro declares at the end of the press release regarding the impending eviction.

"El Centro is our ideas, our feelings, and the base of our dreams. For this reason, el Centro will go wherever we, the community, go."

Location Info

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El Centro Cultural De Mexico

313 N. Birch St., Santa Ana, CA

Category: General

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16 comments
Roert Brookes
Roert Brookes

That is really the great information for the person who concerns with the real estate. It helped me the lot and other people also.

Condo Management

Yunuen
Yunuen

They city doesnt provide spaces for us youth to learn in and when we decide to open one up that serves the coummunities needs they decide to take it away from us. why am i not surprised, SHOULDOF SEEN IT COMIN!! but it wont happen again!!!!

santanaparatodos
santanaparatodos

As the Centro looks for anew site, they will need all the support they can get.  The Centro is acommunity-based cultural center - it organizes major events that attractresidents and visitors to Santa Ana such as the Diade los Muertos in November, concerts, performances and an array offree classes for young children, youth and working classfamilies.  These are critical cultural resources that strengthenALL our community.

Those who have attended or have heard others rave ofevents held at the center and know it to be a phenomenal cultural hub. Supporters of El Centro believe that the city needs to recognize it as an assetand make every effort to support and prioritize its location, providingaccessible space within the downtown area.  El Centro is a space forworking families in Santa Ana that reflects the demographics of the city. Businesses and entertainment venues do provide revenues for the city but spaceslike El Centro have had a longstanding role in the stability of the city byproviding walkable, affordable, culturally enriching events (music, musiceducation, art appreciation, etc) all nourishing a safe/friendly atmospherethat benefits residents and visitors alike. 

As a long term resident of this city, I am proud of El Centro's efforts toorganize high impact events because they are open to residents and visitors ofall ages and backgrounds.  More importantly, the everyday work of ElCentro Cultural de Mexico has been of greatest value to many young people,students of all ages, young children who participate in its cultural richnessand enjoy programming after school, after work and on weekends.  In a citylike Santa Ana, with little park space and high-density housing, this communityplace in the heart of downtown is a true oasis!

Please join efforts to make this sudden move one that positions this fine cultural institution as a permanent fixture of ourSanta Ana within the downtown core. 

ocgrrl
ocgrrl

This is a private property owner deciding to change up tenants. It has nothing to do with government or racial profiling. It is simply a private property owner wishing to do somethinhg different with his/her property. Why is that wrong? It is the same as if you decided to stop renting a bedroom out and to have it all for yourself. If you OWN it, you can do it.

Dulce
Dulce

i dont like this. i love this place, its taught me so much as a youth and given me so much exposure to my culture and provided an amazing safe enviroment. please dont take it away from me or any of my friends.

CrimsonGhost
CrimsonGhost

"WHITE FOLKS and other new neighbors PAY ATTENTION to what is happening around you.  Are you participating  in the gentrification of Santa Ana? Do you have any idea who lived in the apartment or house before you and under what circumstances they left?  DO YOU CARE?  You can not blame the politicians or the real estate brokers as long as you are willing to pay exorbitant prices for the same residential and commercial property that was once affordable.  As you see more whites and others of economic advantages you will see less Hispanics and Blacks. Economic Racism are you the problem or the the solution"    And for those that will no doubt talk shit. El Centro has allowed people to get involved in the community, produce leaders, create cultural events for and by Santa Ana NATIVES not someone from Fullerton or Irvine that just came here and decided to lay claim to OUR city call it their own and push everyone out . CONQUISTADOR MENTALITY I LAY WASTE TO YOU!   The Mayor SOLD US OUT and Downtown INC can BURN for all i fucking care.

Ginelle Hardy
Ginelle Hardy

Maybe it's time for El Centro to come back to a S. Main St. address.

Ronald Vladimir Vega
Ronald Vladimir Vega

This is time for our community to get together and find a best solution for El centro...

Delilah@project small blog
Delilah@project small blog

heaven forbid you have a long-term tenant that is a pillar in the community and always pays its rent-what a bunch of douches, there is no excuse for this."Broadway Improvement Co., Inc." more like pende improvement co...

Lisannmartinez
Lisannmartinez

I can't believe this is happening. El Centro is good for Santa Ana. It seems that our leaders always find a way to take over ideas and events from innovative people. The Artist Village, Patrias Fiestas, now Noche de los Altares. El Centro is a space where people collaborate with each other. Build character and contribute to the education of the Youth. We can't let this happen. God willing, Very good things will come out of a bad situation.

Italimexprds
Italimexprds

Does anyone know where the forum on June 28th will be held?

ocgrrl
ocgrrl

But I do believe El Centro is good for the community. Hope they can find another place.

Chavez Hated Illegals
Chavez Hated Illegals

Ah, so its all whitey's fault.  I knew someone would play that card.  Racista!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Oh, geez—now you migrated your pendejo thoughts to the music blog. Heaven help us all...everyone else, just ignore this racialist.

Mr.F
Mr.F

When gentrification happens it is typically the white upper class moving into newly renovated and higher rent ready buildings

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