Tag Archives: Anaheim

Can Disney Agree to Affordable Housing in Anaheim?

(Photo courtesy of OC Register; story cross-posted at The Liberal OC)

Oh my! Here’s some interesting news on the fight over affordable housing in Anaheim. The Register has a story on last night’s Anaheim City Council meeting, and of their latest decision to give Disney, Suncal, and the affordable housing advocates three weeks to work out a compromise.

Obviously, this leaves one HUGE question in my head. Can the two sides reach a compromise? Is there middle ground between affordable housing near Disneyland and giving Disney free reign to do as it pleases in the “resort district”?

Follow me after the flip for more…

Outside Anaheim City Hall, affordable housing activists staged a protest by pitching over 100 red-domed tents outside. They were doing this in an effort to  help people visualize the need for affordable housing for Orange County’s working poor. They used the tents to do a skit in which people were not allowed to pitch their red-domed tents in an area called “Disneyland”, and then they were forced away by “Disney Villains” from another area called “Nimby-land”. The people with the tents had nowhere to stop and put their tents down, just like how far too many working families in Orange County have nowhere to call home.

Inside city hall, an unusual sense of calm came upon council chambers. OK, so it was still kind of tense. However this time, the meeting went on fairly smoothly. And in the end, the Anaheim City Council voted 3-2 to give all sides in the dispute another 3 weeks to reach a compromise.

But how can a compromise be reached? Is there land available for affordable housing in other nearby areas? Is there an affordable housing proposal in Anaheim that Disney can support? Is there another proposal for the “resort district” that Suncal and the affordable housing advocates can support?

As we’ve discussed before, the working-class folks who make the entire “Anaheim Resort District” work are in dire need of homes that are within their reach and within their budget. However Disney just doesn’t want to see any housing within the “resort district”, as that may disturb their “third gate” plan for a possible third theme park and plenty of new timeshare properties to go with it. So can both sides agree to “third gate” AND affordable housing? Is there room for both in Anaheim?

I guess we’ll find out in these next three weeks.

Listen to the Workers, They Need Affordable Housing

Cynthia Carranco, 16, must do her homework on the seats of dining room chairs because there is no other place to write in the three-bedroom house shared by nine people.

She knows her situation is not unique: A friend sleeps in a walk-in closet, and others also live in crowded conditions.

“Sometimes it’s hard being a teenager and not having any privacy,” said Carranco, an Anaheim High School student.

(From OC Register)

Cynthia Carranco was one of the speakers at last night’s forum on affordable housing in Anaheim. She and the other speakers spoke of their dire need for affordable housing. Yes, there’s the controversial push for affordable housing in the “Anaheim Resort” district. You know, the one where Disney is putting up an initiative to “save the resort district”. However, there are other battles being fought here as well. Of the 8,700 new homes going up in Anaheim’s Platinum Triangle “luxury urban high-rise” development, NONE of them will be available for the lower-income workers who already have jobs in the area. There’s a dire need for affordable housing, but that need is just being ignored.

But you know what? It’s not just Anaheim. It’s the entire Southern California region that’s facing this crisis of affordable housing. And what are they doing about it? Follow me after the flip for more…

“My prayer is that you guys think of my daughter when you consider whether to put affordable housing in the Platinum Triangle or anywhere else in the city,” said speaker Maria Mejia, who shares a mobile-home room with her husband and daughter.

Are we even thinking of Maria and her daughter? Are we thinking of Maria’s neighbors at that mobile home park? Do we think of them when they clean our hotel rooms? Do we think of them when they pick up our trash at Disneyland? Do we think of them when clean our plates after we leave the restaurant?

We should. After all, it’s getting harder to keep people filling these jobs, as they can’t afford to live anywhere in the area. Heck, it’s even getting difficult for employers to retain white-collar workers, as even they can’t afford housing in such expensive places as Orange County! Just what are we thinking?

And are we even listening?

[Anaheim] Councilwoman Lorri Galloway was the sole City Council member to attend the forum, put on by Orange County Community Congregation Community Organization, a coalition of faith-based groups. […]

The group asked Galloway to commit to supporting affordable housing as part of Platinum Triangle plans, which she agreed to do.

“It’s not the big developers they should be listening to. They should be listening to you.” Galloway said to the crowd.

We really should be listening to these workers. They are facing a huge financial burden. And as they suffer this burden, so does the entire economy in Southern California. Workers can’t afford to live here, and they can’t afford to shop here. And they can only afford to work here for so long, before that high cost of filling the gas tank finally catches up with them. And if companies start to lose their employees, they can no longer afford to do business here. If we can’t listen to these workers, then we’re not listening to the needs of the local economy.

But are we doing that? Anaheim so far is not.

Statistics were projected on the church hall wall, such as the city’s approval about 11,000 homes for higher-income families, but just hundreds for low-income families since 1998.

Developers don’t want affordable housing at the Platinum Triangle. Disney and the hotels don’t want affordable housing in the “resort district” around Disneyland. So where the heck is affordable housing “permissible”? Where can the workers live? And how long can they keep working here so long as there’s nowhere in the entire area where they can afford to live?

Why can’t Disney and the hotels and the developers and the Chamber of Commerce types realize that affordable housing for their workers is in their long-term best economic interest? Just how long do they think they can retain their workers if the workers can’t live anywhere? Just how long do they think they can can get away with avoiding these long-term crises?

The benefits of affordable housing in the area far outweigh the costs. Employers can keep their employees. Employees can keep shopping at local stores. The city can keep these workers as taxpaying residents. More money is kept in the local economy. Everyone really does benefit in the end.

It’s too bad that this problem is playing out in Anaheim. But you know what? It’s not just Anaheim. It’s Santa Ana. It’s Irvine. It’s Los Angeles. It’s Riverside and San Bernardino (yes, even parts of the Inland Empire are starting to lose their “affordable” edge!). Southern California desperately needs affordable housing. But so far, all our “elected officials and business leaders” want to do is talk about building more “luxury housing” in areas that are already over saturated with “luxury housing”.

Well, guess what? We already have plenty of “luxury housing”! What we need is affordable housing for low and middle-class workers! When will we start listening to them, and to their needs?

Memorial Day Open Thread

Hello again, and Happy Memorial Day! How’s the barbeque coming along? Have any of the kids jumped into the pool yet? Or wait, is that YOU in the pool with the white t-shirt? ; )

OK, and seriously, have you remembered the troops today? Are you grateful for their service to our country? Are you angry at Bush and the Republicans for dishonoring them by keeping them in the midst of all this chaos that all the experts knew would happen? Yes, I know it sucks. : (

Well, here’s some Arnold news for you. The Governator is in Anaheim today for the Stanley Cup (ice hockey) Championship Game today between the Anaheim Ducks and the Ottawa Senators. Now I may disagree with Arnold on a whole lot of things, but I can tell you that I agree with him on this:

So what are you up to today? What would you like to chat with me about? What’s happening in your town today? Go ahead. Make my day. Fire away! : )

Pulido No Es Un Villaraigosa

In case you missed it, The LA Times still has one reporter/columnist/commentator left in Orange County. His name is Dana Parsons. And on Friday, he talked about his recent interview with controversial Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido.

Now Miguel Pulido may be controversial, but not in ways that we’d think a Latino mayor of a heavily Latino city would be controversial. He doesn’t lead immigrants’ rights marches. He doesn’t declare Santa Ana as a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants. Actually, Pulido doesn’t really care about immigration.

So how is Miguel Pulido controversial? Follow me after the flip to find out…

“If I were a Curt Pringle [the white mayor of Anaheim], would anybody be saying how come he’s not out there marching?” Pulido says. “And in a way, they’re discriminating – inverse discrimination, so to speak – against me, by making the assertion that because I’m Hispanic, I’m at fault for not participating.”

He notes that his critics on the issue generally are other Latinos. “If I had a different heritage, they’d have a different conclusion,” he says. “That goes against all that I stand for, because I want to treat everybody the same and I want to be treated the same way.”

When I then begin to ask how he wants to be judged on the issue, he says firmly, “As a mayor. Not as an Anglo mayor. Not a Hispanic mayor. As a mayor.”

Another mayor in a heavily Latino city might play it differently, I suggest. “Correct,” he says.

“But don’t say that because this mayor is Hispanic he’s got to behave this way. That really gets to me, because then the implication is that you are different and should behave differently because of that. And to me, I am an American first.”

Wow. That’s deep. Well, I guess people here do wonder why a guy who immigrated here from Mexico City as a little boy wouldn’t stand up for his fellow immigrants, but that’s beside the point. That’s not the only controversial thing about Pulido.

Here are some more reasons why Pulido is so controversial here. He hasn’t done anything about the recent spat of gang violence in Santa Ana. He hasn’t done anything about opening more parks in a city that’s in such dire need of open space. He hasn’t done a good job of keeping our roads in good working condition, as some parts of town look like third-world countries due to the crappy state of their streets. He hasn’t improved our libraries… Oh wait, that’s right, HE’S CLOSED THEM! In his twenty years on the City Council and twelve years as Mayor, I’m struggling just to find good things that Pulido has done in this city.

I guess that’s the real controversy here. It’s not that Miguel Pulido has ever done anything controversial. No, it’s just that HE HASN’T DONE ANYTHING, PERIOD! That’s the difference here.

Say what you will about Antonio Villaraigosa, but a least he’s doing something. At least he cares about Los Angeles. At least he cares about what happens to the people who live in LA. We can’t even get our mayor in Santa Ana to care. He’s too busy comparing himself to Curt Pringle.

Developing for the Better in Anaheim?

Look at what I found in this morning’s OC Register. This looks interesting:

A new coalition of unions, faith-based groups and community organizations is pressuring developers to build low-cost homes and pay sufficient wages at a proposed complex next to Angel Stadium.

Three developers are competing for a contract to build offices, shops and homes on a 51.4-acre, city-owned plot, which the National Football League has considered for a stadium. On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss the proposals in a closed meeting and may narrow the field of competitors.

The new Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, or OCCORD, is trying to persuade developers to commit to certain standards before the city awards a contract. The city’s lease with the Angels forbids homes on the land now, but developers are talking to the Angels.

OK, so these folks are trying to convince developers to just do what’s right for the community? How the heck does that work? Well, follow me after the flip for more on this interesting development…

So how well is it working? Pretty well, actually. Already, one developer is listening.

At least one developer is interested in making a pact with the coalition.

“We have a lot in common with the majority of their goals,” said Eric Heffner, a principal at Windstar Communities. “Our development site is trying to meet all the needs of the community.”

And why does this matter? Perhaps because there isn’t much affordable housing left in Orange County. Perhaps because there are so many folks out there who desperately need a place to live down here.

One OCCORD member, St. Boniface Catholic Church, is pushing on its own for affordable housing on the land by Angel Stadium, first by meeting with individual council members.

Some parishioners have trouble paying for homes, doubling up in apartments or moving to the Inland Empire, said the Rev. Tim Freyer, lead pastor. The stadium property is in the Platinum Triangle, where none of the 8,292 planned homes is set to meet affordable-housing guidelines.

“There’s an opportunity I think we should take advantage of,” said Freddy Hernandez, a St. Boniface member.

So if OCCORD can pull it off and get the developers to agree to good labor and environmental standards, I say more power to them. And if they can get these developers to agree to include affordable housing in their plans, then we’re one step closer to solving this housing crisis. After all, this is something that we can no longer afford to ignore. There really is hardly any affordable housing left in Southern California. That’s why we so need groups like OCCORD to push these developers to think beyond short-term profits.

Perhaps in the near term, we’ll be OK just building more luxury condos and exorbitant McMansions while ignoring all the poor and middle-class people who can’t find a place to live. However, this isn’t good for the long term. We need good, livable communities. We need communities with safe streets, and parks for kids to play. We need sustainable communities with services withing walking distance, and mass transit readily available to take folks farther distances. However, no good long-term plan for healthy communities is complete without a plan to ensure that people can actually afford to live in these communities. What good are the streets and parks and services and high-speed trains if no one can even really afford to live near these?

That’s why we need to think in the long term. That’s why we need for affordable housing. And that’s why I hope OCCORD can succeed in getting developers to do what’s best for everyone in the community. : )

Fear and Loathing in the Land of Disney

Once upon a time, a “Magic Kingdom” opened among orange groves and walnut trees in a rural, bucolic community in North Orange County. Over the years, as this “Magic Kingdom” has grown, the rural area transformed into suburban sprawl, and then into urban sprawl.
And during all this time, the two seemed to be growing together pretty well…

Until now. (From LA Times)

Putting itself on a collision course with the city’s largest and most famous employer, the Anaheim City Council voted 3 to 2 Tuesday night to reopen debate on whether to allow housing in the resort district – a proposal Disney has fiercely opposed.

The vote is the latest escalation in the debate between city leaders and Disney officials on what belongs in a neighborhood dominated by Disneyland and California Adventure.

So what does this mean for Mickey Mouse, the poor folks who work for him, and the all the neighbors who have to live near him? I’ll tell you about it after the flip…

So what exactly has been happening in Anaheim for all these years. Local blogger Mike Randall can explain:

Disney and the City of Anaheim have a long political relationship, that sometimes ends well and sometimes ends in disaster. When Disney owned the Anaheim Angels, the City bent over backwards to approve renovations to aging Anaheim Stadium. Disney responded by renaming the California Angels to the Anaheim Angels (and then it all went down hill later due to Arte Moreno’s geographically challenged naming scheme). When Michael Eisner had an idea to continue to profit off of Disney’s Mighty Ducks Movies, the Walt Disney Corporation was granted an expansion team by the NHL and Anaheim moved to annex additional land bordering the City of Orange to build the Anaheim Arena (later renamed to the Arrowhead Pond, and now the Honda Center under the Samueli’s). At one time three professional sports teams played within the city limits of Anaheim, but the Rams left for St. Louis and for the Rams the rest was history.

As for the theme park, Disney and Anaheim have made a long list of concessions to each other. During the initial planning for Disney’s California Adventure Park, Anaheim developed and zoned the area bordered by the 5 Freeway, Walnut Street, Anaheim Boulevard, and terminating past the Anaheim Convention Center as the Anaheim Resort District. This special district has special use regulations for items such as appearance, signs, zoning, and other items to make the area friendly to tourists. A similar district in Anaheim is the Platinum Triangle, a new high-rise residence area with shops and restaurants, a quasi-downtown, which is currently under development but far from the grasp of Disney. It’s the Anaheim Resort District, and the prospect of housing along with a possible “Third Gate” (the term that is thrown around when a new theme park is rumored to be in the planning stage), that is causing the biggest riff between the City and Disney that residents have ever seen.

OK, now that we know the background, we can see the real issues surrounding the current controversy that is the prospect of affordable housing being built within the Anaheim Resort District. The city sees the need to build affordable housing for the people who work in the Resort District, and a majority of the city council may be willing to build that housing for these workers close to where they actually work…

But how would this affect Disney’s plans to build a third theme park? How would this affect plans to build timeshare units to sell to tourists who want to own a little chunk of the “Magic Kingdom”? Could this affordable housing project hamper Disney’s plans to remake Anaheim in Orlando’s image? Disney now sees the looming threat, and they’re now planning to fight back, both in court and on the ballot. (Also from LA Times)

The election plan is the latest in a series of aggressive steps the entertainment giant has taken to prevent a 1,500-unit condo-apartment complex, and others like it, from taking shape near Disneyland and California Adventure.

Disney, which last month sued the city to block the project, has been unbending in its position that the area be reserved for tourist-related uses such as hotels, time-share units and, ultimately, a third Disney amusement park.

At a hastily called press conference Monday, Disneyland President Ed Grier said the ballot initiative represented “a permanent solution to protect the resort.” The initiative would require Anaheim voters to approve or reject any land-use changes within the 2.2-square-mile resort district.

Yet on the same day that Disney announced this “SOAR” Initiative to “save the Resort District”, the Fair Political Practices Commission ruled that Lucille Kring, the Anaheim City Councilmember who abstained on the 2-2 deadlock vote on the housing project, WAS NOT OBLIGATED TO ABSTAIN on the vote. Apparently since Kring has (so far) NOT ACTED on her intent to build a wine bar in a proposed shopping center in the Resort District, she has no conflict of interest by voting on Resort District matters. Now remember that Disney’s lawyers asked Kring to abstain on this vote, supposedly concerned about her supposed “conflict of interest”…
But did they have some other interest in mind? Mike Randall may have the answer:

The “Third Gate” seems to be the main reason for the pre-emptive strike by Walt Disney Co. rumors have been increasing that the company wants to bring the Cruise Line to the West Coast on a permanent basis, build large blocks of time shares, and zero in on high-end consumers with specialty hotels. According to the Los Angeles Times, Disney’s posturing is backed by a rebound in post 9/11 travel and a 30% revenue increase after a successful 50th anniversary celebration. In my honest opinion, I’m surprised Disney would move this quickly with plans for a “third-gate” when Disney’s California Adventure still gets the following monikers from locals: “Dirt Cheap Attractions” and “DOA” (Dead on Arrival). Disney has purchased a 46 acre area just Southeast of the current Theme Parks for a “future project” and according to local business and landowners, many have been approached to sell their land. To whom and for what still remains unknown.

In my honest opinion, I’m not all that surprised. Disney, after all, has not quite had the best relationship with its neighbors. Disney simply sees the “Anaheim Resort District” as one of its biggest cash cows, and they simply do not want to lose this VERY scared cow. However, Disney also refuses to think about what might be best for the Resort District, and for the company, in the long term, as they refuse to deal with the serious problem that is the affordable housing crisis in Southern California. After all, if we don’t deal with nearby affordable housing for these workers now, then we may have to deal with their freeway commutes from the Inland Empire soon.

So can all out political warfare over a 2.2 square mile cast a gloomy shadow over “The Happiest Place on Earth”? Will the dreams of Anaheim residents, and the dreams of Resort District workers, be silenced by Mickey Mouse? And can a Disney power grab over the “Resort District” lock Anaheim residents out of their very own “Magic Kingdom”?

Naranja News: Today’s Wild and Wonderful OC News Roundup

Here are today’s wild and wonderful OC stories that you just have to see to believe!

TABOR for All? In yesterday’s OC Register, Rep. John Ken-doll Campbell offers us an “American Taxpayer Bill of Rights” to fix all the fiscal woes that those “tax and spend Democrats” are already creating:

The road back to fiscal sanity in Washington is likely to be a long slog, unless Republicans are willing to boldly recommit ourselves to the principles that earned us the reputation as the party of lower taxes and less government. Today the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of approximately 100 fiscal and social conservatives in the House, will do just that when we unveil the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Unfortunately for Ken-doll Campbell, Dan Chmielewski ain’t buying any of this “TABOR talk”.

But Republicans are hardly the party of less government. The size of the California government rose under Ronald Reagan. It rose under Pete Wilson. And it’s risen under Arnold Schwarzenegger. The size of the Federal Government grew under Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

The president who actually reduced government: Bill Clinton, under the RE-GO initiative led by then VP Al Gore shrunk the size of the Federal Government to the lowest point since the Kennedy Administration.

Read the rest of what he has to say at The Liberal OC.

And you say only Iowa and New Hampshire have town hall meetings? Nope, not true… ‘Cuz we’ll be having a series of them in Santa Ana over the next month. OK, OK, we won’t have anyone “famous”… We’ll just be talking with our city leaders about youth issues, business development, neighborhood concerns, and more. Ryan Gene has more about it at Orange Juice.

Advantage Janet? In case you forgot, our Special Election for County Supervisor is still in court. However, there was an interesting turn of events inside the courthouse yesterday. Peggy Lowe has the latest in Total Buzz. And finally…

“Do I stay or do I go?” Ellyn Pak talks about that grueling decision that thousands of Anaheim Hills and East Orange residents had to face as the threat of fire loomed over their neighborhoods in today’s OC Register.

UPDATE: Windy Ridge (Anaheim) Fire Now Contained

(Video courtesy of atL3x on YouTube)

Here’s the latest update on the Windy Ridge Wildfire, courtesy of The OC Register:

It’s now contained. The fire is now 100% contained, and should by fully controlled by 6 p.m. tomorrow.

But we’ve still got plenty of firefighters on the scene. Over 400 firefighters and 800 total personnel are still there. However, crews are now being sent home.

Pretty big price tag. The cost of fighting this fire is estimated at $1.5 million, but expected to double.

Firefighters injured. Three firefighters had minor to moderate injuries. One was treated for smoke inhalation, while another had an allergic reaction to an insect bite. A firefighter who suffered an ax wound to the face had his injury upgraded from minor to moderate.

3 structures have burned. One single-family home with a shake roof in the 6800 block of Avenida de Santiago in Anaheim Hills was damaged. Two outbuildings in the 6900 block of Overlook Terrace in Anaheim Hills were destroyed.

2,740 homes still evacuated. 240 of them are in Anaheim Hills, while 2,500 of them are in Orange. All evacuees have been allowed to return to their homes.

The roads are open again. All roads are open, including all lanes on the 241 toll road.

Hopefully once the fire has been put out, everyone can return home safely. And hopefully, those three families who have lost their homes will be able to find new homes very soon.

Tonight’s Windy Ridge (Anaheim) Fire UPDATE

(Video courtesy of watashiwabritney on YouTube)

Here’s the latest update on the Windy Ridge Wildfire, courtesy of The OC Register:

2,740 homes have been evacuated. 240 of those homes are in Anaheim Hills, and 2,500 are in Orange. All evacuees have been allowed to return to their homes. Residents in the Hidden Canyon area in Anaheim Hills are still under voluntary evacuation. Only residents will be allowed into the neighborhood.

3 structures were burned today. One single-family home with a shake roof in the in Anaheim Hills was damaged, while another two houses in Anaheim Hills have been completely destroyed.

80% contained? So far, that’s the latest estimate. As of tonight, 2,080 acres have been burned.

Some roads are still closed. Most roads in Anaheim Hills and East Orange are open. However in the vicinity of Serrano and the Hidden Canyon area in Anaheim Hills, the roads are still closed. Only residents are allowed in. Only two lanes are open on the 241 toll road.

Firefighters are still on the scene. Right now, over 100 fire engines, 5 bulldozers, 20 strike teams, 20 hand crews, about 600 firefighters are working to contain the fire. However, 800 firefighters and structural firefighters who worked here yesterday were dismissed today.

Was this arson? A burning abandoned car with stolen license plates ignited vegetation about 50 feet off the 241 toll road yesterday morning, and authorities are feeling quite sure now that this caused the great fire. Police suspect that this car was deliberately set on fire, and they are asking anyone who saw suspects running from the vicinity Sunday morning to call authorities.

All of us in OC are watching what happens at Windy Ridge right now. And yes, I’m still hoping that all these poor folks can return home safely and soon.

Windy Ridge (Anaheim) Fire UPDATE

(Video courtesy of watashiwabritney on YouTube)

Here’s the latest update on the Windy Ridge Wildfire, courtesy of The OC Register:

1,220 people were evacuated. And though some people were allowed to return home last night, many must still stay away from their own homes as the threat of fire looms nearby.

4 structures have been destroyed. Fortunately, only 2 of those were single-family residences. But still, as the temperatures rises and humidity drops today, more homes may be threatened.

30% contained. So far, 2,036 acres have been burned. However, authorities are hoping that not too many more become scorched as they expect to fully contain the fire within the next 24 hours.

Two firefighters were injured. And now, both firefighters injured have been treated. One was treated for an ax wound to the face, and the other for smoke inhalation.

Did a really stupid criminal cause all this? Apparently, this all started when some jackass criminal set fire to a car with stolen license plates (Hmmm… I wonder who stole them…). Seriously, why are such idiots allowed to roam this earth freely?

So anyways, this is what’s happening in OC right now. Let’s just hope that all these poor folks can return home safely and soon.