Northgate Market Turns To Real Estate, and Against the Working Class Raza Who Built It

When I come home from work on Fridays my mom asks me to take her to el mercado and she brings her reusable shopping bags and a list of things she needs. My mom likes the produce from Northgate more than any other store and we make our way over to the Northgate location on Main and Cubbon. Unfortunately for us, the Gonzalez family doesn’t like us more than their potential to make millions of dollars.

This week, Northgate Markets has announced their proposal for a luxury development on the corner of 4th and Mortimer. Northgate has partnered with Red Oak Investments to propose to the city of Santa Ana a mix-use development with “high quality residences and public-serving commercial areas.” The development would include over 130 units none of which are affordable housing units. The development would connect to downtown giving its wealthy residents complete access to the Downtown Santa Ana “experience.”

Sounds like a complete and utter gentrifying mess.

What is most interesting about this unscrupulous attack to the low income residents of Santa Ana is that it’s not coming from a white liberal moving into the neighborhood or from a white developer from south county, it’s coming from raza itself.

In our most common understanding of gentrification we understand displacement as a viscous attack to our people by white newcomers moving into working-class communities of color. Often times, it is wealthy people of color betraying the vast majority of us; this is what I believe to be the case with Northgate.

Northgate Gonzalez Market has taken on the business of real estate when it is very clear that they should have stuck to providing quality groceries to Santanerxs. What is very clear to me is that luxury development continues to be perceived as progress not just for white capitalists but for the brown ones too. What is too often left out of conversations on gentrification is that class analysis is essential.

How much better is luxury housing when it is being proposed by a Latinx family?

Not very much better at all. In fact, it is heartbreaking that a company with a long history in Santa Ana has decided to turn its back on the working families that have kept it up and in business for decades.

What do I propose we do?

In 2014, labor union organizers called for a boycott of El Super grocery stores across California after CEO, Carlos Smith refused to address workers’ concerns of fair wages, adequate sick time and over 679 violations of environmental health regulations.

In the same way, we can demand that Northgate Gonzalez Market stays away from spearheading the redevelopment of a Santa Ana already struggling through a devastating housing crisis. If we hit them where it hurts the most (their revenue) we can push the Gonzalez family to stay true to their values of community.  

It is our duty as people committed to social justice to remind even our own people that the hood is not for sale.

Tonight, community will meet with Northgate Markets at the Sunshine Ordinance meeting held at Latino Health Access (450 W 4th Street Santa Ana, CA 92701) to express our opinions. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. I hope you can join us.

David Carbajal Torres is a public health worker and community organizer interested in gentrification and queer and trans issues. David has written for we are mitú and has contributed to several other blogs like The Gran Varones which uplifts the stories of queer, gay, bisexual and trans Latinx men. He resides in Santa Ana.

Follow David @davidcarbs  @davidcarbs