A study of Santa Ana's proposed Westdome arena endorses the downtown area as the best site for the $40-million project but adds that there will be "significant adverse impacts" on nearby residential areas in traffic, littering and noise.
If the arena is built, there will also be pressure from developers to build commercial facilities in those residential neighborhoods, according to the environmental impact report prepared by the Irvine firm of Phillips, Brandt and Reddick.
But the report--which will be made public Monday--said Santa Ana can take several steps to reduce the proposed arena's impacts on surrounding communities.
Vote in February
The public and various governmental agencies will have 45 days to comment on the report's findings. These comments will then become part of a final report on the project, which City Council members will vote on in February.
City Manager Robert C. Bobb said many of the report's so-called "mitigating measures" are already in plans to lessen the impacts of several downtown redevelopment projects, including the $90-million Centerpointe office-hotel complex and the $10-million Fiesta Marketplace shopping plaza.
"These are improvements we would have to make with or without the Westdome," Bobb explained.
The Westdome report made several key recommendations:
To ensure that surrounding neighborhoods aren't overrun by arena traffic, estimated at between 6,290 and 16,670 daily trips, the study suggested that Santa Ana hire 22 additional police officers to provide security and direct traffic.
Other recommendations include providing signs to direct traffic to the "appropriate corridors," re-striping and signal modifications at eight key intersections, and the placement of barricades at the entrances to residential streets. The study suggested free parking permits for residents to permit them to bypass the barricades during Westdome events.
The report recommended that Santa Ana also secure agreements with public and private parking operators in the area to ensure an adequate number of spaces, and provide shuttle service from lots farthest from the arena.
Santa Ana's contract with the four-man Westdome Partnership--which will come up for final consideration on March 3 at the earliest--should also specify that "with the possible exception of sports playoff games, major sporting events are not scheduled for weekdays with starting times prior to 7:30 p.m.," according to the report.
The study did not suggest ways to dampen developers' desires to build commercial projects in the areas surrounding Westdome. However, Bobb said the city has no plans to make such changes and "from the City Council's standpoint, there will be no rezoning" of residential areas.
In a key recommendation, the report endorsed a downtown site for Westdome at Flower Street and Civic Center Drive where Santa Ana Stadium now stands.
Other Suggested Sites
Seven other possible locations for Westdome were studied by the Irvine firm, including a site at MacArthur Boulevard and Main Street, where a trio of Newport Beach developers have proposed including the stadium in an office-commercial-restaurant development.
The other six locations--which had been examined by city staff in a previous study--were on North Main Street south of the Town and Country Shopping Center; between Grand Avenue and Santa Ana Boulevard south of Fruit Street; Fourth Street at the Santa Ana Freeway; the Harbor Drive-in Theater at Harbor Boulevard and McFadden Avenue; a cement production company site at Harbor and MacArthur boulevards, and MacArthur Boulevard west of Bear Street.
"All of those sites are very expensive. The downtown site is far and away the most economical," Bobb said, explaining that the city owns the downtown site at Flower Street and Civic Center Drive.
The city's costs to construct Westdome at that site would include razing the existing stadium for an estimated $3 million and constructing a "new" Santa Ana stadium at another location. Last week, officials unveiled a plan for an $11-million facility in Centennial Park at Edinger Avenue and Fairview Street.
By contrast, the costs of purchasing land at the other seven sites, none of which the city owns, range from $17.4 million at the Harbor Drive-in site to $37.2 million at the MacArthur-Bear site. The alternative site at MacArthur and Main would cost the city an estimated $21.7 million, according to the report.
The Westdome Partners, including Allan Durkovic, Don Oliphant, Robert Osbrink and Ronald McMahon, hope to lure a professional basketball team to Santa Ana to ensure the arena's financial success. They recently submitted a $100,000 check to the National Basketball Assn. in hopes of getting approval for an expansion team. They have also spoken to the Los Angeles Clippers about relocating to Santa Ana. However, there are no firm deals for either proposal.