History of THRIVE
The City’s first community land trust (CLT), THRIVE Santa Ana is founded upon 10 years of collaboration. Since 2008, local nonprofits and residents have worked together to ensure that economic development projects -- especially those using public resources -- heed local demand for affordable housing, open space, jobs, and business opportunities.
In the years leading up to its creation, founders of THRIVE led a multi-sectoral coalition that successfully increased affordability of housing, a community center, a neighborhood park, and local business space within the Station District development in the Lacy neighborhood. The Santa Ana Collaborative for Responsible Development (SACReD) brought together residents, community groups, and organizations for an unprecedented negotiation with developers and the City of Santa Ana in 2010. This opened the door to a new, common-sense concept: development based on local needs, incorporating local vision and participation.
Founders of THRIVE helped forge new policies to require greater transparency and resident input in economic development projects, first through the Santa Ana Sunshine Ordinance. In 2013, the founding organizations and residents of THRIVE partnered with the City to facilitate community input into the City’s Strategic Plan. In 2015, Santa Ana City Council passed the Wellness Resolution, committing to a community-based economic strategy, and providing land for community-owned micro-farm and mercadito projects.
A year later, the newly formed Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities (SABHC) Equity for All Workgroup learned the City planned to sell over 90 parcels of public land without resident input or community benefit directives. Equity for All advocated to stop the sale of public land, encouraging the City to research alternative models of community-led development. They were successful. In 2016, the City of Santa Ana halted the sale of the land and formed a workgroup to research the community land trust model and opportunities for community-owned land. The workgroup included Councilman David Benavides, Robert Cortez, and members of the Equity for All Workgroup (future founders of THRIVE Santa Ana).
The workgroup studied local CLT models, including TRUST South LA, a Los Angeles member-driven CLT, CLT governance, vacant city land, and opportunities in Santa Ana. One city-owned parcel was identified as an immediate opportunity - a ⅓ acre empty lot at 1901 W Walnut St. On October 2016, members of Equity for All moved forward to legally incorporate Santa Ana’s first community land trust - THRIVE Santa Ana, Inc.
In December 2016, THRIVE Santa Ana convened developers to share their vision for community-led development, using the CLT as a platform for partnerships between the City, developers, and residents. That same month, THRIVE presented its proposal to the full City Council in a Study Session.
On May 1st, 2018, the City entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) for THRIVE’s first parcel of community-owned land. The project is currently in design: engaging local residents via community meetings, door-to-door surveys, art projects, and working with City staff to navigate the City Planning process, setting precedents for community-driven development. In October 2018, the City will make a decision on the transfer of the 1901 W Walnut St parcel to THRIVE.
Currently THRIVE is engaging residents from the Lacy neighborhood, formulating a proposal for affordable housing on City-owned land. This is in response to a Request for Proposals by the City’s Housing Authority. These projects - Housing Authority parcels and 1901 W Walnut St - will be taking form this Fall, just as THRIVE convenes Santa Ana residents in its first membership meeting, to take ownership of this historic community development platform.