Common sense finds its mark in Anaheim Resort Zoning Debate

Although the City Council didn’t go as far as overturning their previous decision to allow high priced condos in the area zoned for tourism business only, they did finally schedule the matter for a city wide vote. More than half of the people who spoke last night supported the Save Our Anaheim Resort backed referendum. It’s clear from how quick SOAR was able to gather signatures for the petition that the support among Anaheim residents is even greater. (Read)

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3 thoughts on “Common sense finds its mark in Anaheim Resort Zoning Debate

  1. David Michael/Darkbeer

    Well, the SOAR group filed the initiative this afternoon, here is the press release…

    Save Our Anaheim Resort Press Release

    SOAR COALITION FILES 31,348 SIGNATURES TO PLACE INITIATIVE ON BALLOT

    Measure Would Let Voters Decide on Protecting Long-term Vision of Anaheim Resort District

    ANAHEIM, Calif. (August 22, 2007) —The Save Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR) coalition today delivered 31,348 signatures to the Anaheim City Clerk, 10,000 more than required, to place an initiative on the ballot that will give voters the right to approve any future changes to the original tourist-serving vision of the Anaheim Resort District.

    The initiative addresses the long-term need to protect the Resort District, its boundaries and land uses, according to the 4,650-member SOAR coalition. The Resort District is less then 5% of the city, yet generates over 50% of Anaheim’s’ annual tax revenue.

    SOAR also led the successful drive to place a referendum on the ballot to overturn a high-density housing development in the Resort District, which was approved by a 3-2 Council vote in April. On Tuesday night, the Council placed the referendum on the June 3 ballot. Combined, SOAR has collected more that 52,000 signatures from Anaheim citizens to protect the Resort District.

    “The Resort District was created to support tourism businesses. As a result, it is the largest single source of tax revenue for city services,” said Todd Ament, co-chairman of SOAR and president and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. “We will do what’s necessary to preserve this economic engine that funds vital services such as police and fire protection in Anaheim.”

    “The momentum to protect the Anaheim Resort Area is now in full swing. Combined with last night’s action to ask the voters to correct the Council’s ill-advised decision to allow residential units into a portion of the resort, this initiative will protect and strengthen the entire Resort Area for generations to come,” said Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle.

    “The beauty of democracy is the right of voters to have their voices heard on important issues. I’m proud to live in a community that is so committed to ensuring the long-term protection of our city’s fiscal foundation and the desire to protect that economic engine found in the Resort Area,” the Mayor added.

    “This is an important day for Anaheim, as the people who signed these petitions have spoken and their message is clear … Protect the Anaheim Resort Area as the largest economic engine in this City. I applaud the efforts of SOAR to let the voice of the people be heard,” said Margaret Pashko, Chair, Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.

    Specifically, the SOAR Initiative would:

    • Require voter approval to change the City’s General Plan policies for the Anaheim Resort District.

    • Require voter approval to change the list of land uses allowed in the Anaheim Resort District.

    • Require voter approval to change Anaheim Resort District boundaries.

    • Require an Environmental Impact Report to be completed before any housing project could be built in the Anaheim Resort District and before any change to the allowed land uses could be made.

    The Resort District was created in 1994 and established land uses limited to tourist-serving uses, such as theme parks, hotels, restaurants and convention facilities. It covers less than five percent of the land in the City of Anaheim yet generates more than half of Anaheim’s tax revenues.

    Visitors to the Resort District pay hotel and sales taxes that go directly to the City of Anaheim’s General Fund. From 1994 to 2006, the contribution from the hotel tax alone more than doubled from $33 million to $80 million annually. Anaheim’s annual revenue from tourism is ten times higher than any other city in Orange County.

    SOAR is a broad coalition of more than 4,650 concerned Anaheim businesses, labor unions, homeowner groups and residents, who want a permanent solution for the future of the Anaheim Resort District and believe voters have a right to decide.

    Information about the referendum and initiative drives is available by contacting the SOAR office at the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce offices, 201 E. Center Street, Anaheim, CA. Phone: (714) 400-0734. Web site: http://www.soaranaheim.com

  2. David Michael/Darkbeer

    Here are a few thoughts and comments about info I gathered from watching the Public Comments and Council Debate about the Referendum to overturn the council’s zoning change.

    Public comments for the Zoning change (Item #54) started just after 5:30 PM.

    One of the earlier speakers made the point this really isn’t about Disney, but about a zoning change that approved High Density Housing in the area.

    The Anaheim Zoning Commission denied the zoning change, and only by the City Council taking the matter up (on their own) and then overturning the zoning commission has the item gotten this far.

    One of the heads of the Orange County Tax Association makes the point that the zoning change breaks the deal made back in 1994 to make the area commercial and to help all the businesses in the area.

    I have to give kudos to Larry, who came up to speak to the council. He stated he is a Jungle Cruise skipper, and talked about the benefits of what Disney has done for Anaheim. He also spent the majority of time addressing the public, not the council members. I was impressed with how he handled his short time at the podium (max of 3 minutes). Once again, Larry… way to go!

    A Building Union member came up and stated that 11 different unions are against the zoning change. He stated the unions are in favor of affordable housing, but not in this location. He stated that he thought this zoning change was all about Money, Greed and was a Land Grab for SunCal.

    Another speaker talked about how a lot of this has been a Smoke Screen, and a personal agenda is driving the real issue.

    The Co-Chair of SOAR brought up the fact of future dollars, and how Garden Grove has been getting a lot of the business that Anaheim could have gotten if they would have solidly stood behind the entire Resort Area. (Such as new hotels, restaurants and shops).

    The Mayor brought up the fact just prior to the main council meeting, they were having a dealing with affordable housing for the City of Anaheim, and that 1,429 units were currently under construction in the city.

    I presume there will be some quiet periods in the next few months, but we know the following will happen.

    SOAR submitted its Initiative signatures for verification today. And if they have enough valid signatures, then the matter will go in front of the City Council (and more public comments) for placement on a ballot.

    The CDPA has to figure out what to do with there “Strawberry Field” initiative, and what to do. Do they submit it directly to the City Council for placement on the ballot without the need to gather signatures. And does the City Council approve it. And if they do, how strong is the case for favoritism against the council? And does that threat keep the city council from placing it on the ballot without signatures.

    And if CDPA decides to bypass the council, or if the council refuses to place the initiative on the ballot without signatures, what does CDPA decide to do?

    They could either drop the 3rd matter, and just focus its time, money and effort on getting the two SOAR matters defeated in June, or do they spend Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to get the required 15% of registered voters signatures. And can they get enough signatures in the 6 month period. If they attempt to gather signatures, then there will be ongoing ad campaigns on both sides, and of course plenty of news stories and press releases from both sides. So that will keep the story going straight thru until June.

    But if the council waives the signature requirement, or if CDPA decides to drop the Strawberry Field measure, then things will quiet down in the next couple of months until after Easter, when the two groups both kick the ad campaigning into high gear for the June election.

    Whatever happens, it will be interesting to watch….

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