File this under stupid quotes. It came to my attention earlier today that Santa Ana Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez has been taking some heat for some remarks she made in reference to a Jewish property owner who is involved in the city’s downtown area.
Last week in a council meeting, Alvarez compared a downtown businessman, who happens to be Jewish, to Adolph Hitler, and also accused him of ethnic cleansing. Santa Ana has been undergoing a gentrification process for years where smaller immigrant merchants have been pushed out to various degrees by larger, wealthier businesses. Ironically, some of this has been brought on by the powers that be (read this piece about the proposed towers and mixed use properties and the relationship between this council and developers).
Alvarez then made the rounds in the press apologizing for her remarks but did not make a personal apology to the target of her rant, Irv Chase and his family saying that because she doesn’t have an amicable relationship with them that it isn’t a good idea to meet for a personal apology.
At this point, the damage has been done. Alvarez did an incredibly stupid thing comparing a business owner to Hitler, a man responsible for mass executions. Disagreements in how to proceed in downtown development within Santa Ana need to be solved more thoughtfully.
In recent visits to Santa Ana, I haven’t seen any evidence of “ethnic cleansing”. If anything, the city has become more Latino, and yes, gentrification has occurred. But the council needs to find a way to balance growth and new businesses with its population.
According to Gustavo Arellano at the OC Weekly, the Anti-Defamation League is calling for Alvarez to resign, and she would be wise to leave her position at this point. Her comments have already become a distraction, and her fellow council members have tried to distance themselves from her.