There’s been a sea change in Anaheim, and, no surprise, it’s being met with resistance from some.
Last Sunday in the Register, Lucy Dunn of the Orange County Business Council was critical of the Anaheim City Council’s recent decision to change city managers.
Well, elections matter.
In November, Anaheim residents elected new leaders to an expanded City Council. In doing so, the people spoke and their message was clear: Pay attention to neighborhoods, not just lobbyists and well-connected businesses.
Change, in culture and practice, is desperately needed in Anaheim. For years, the city has paid too much attention to special interests in the Anaheim Resort District at the expense of our neighborhoods.
Now real change is happening. For the first time in Anaheim’s history, voters last year began electing council members by districts, bringing us closer to the people we represent.
Meanwhile, the playing field at City Hall is becoming more level. Just last week, our City Council began the process of adopting a sunshine ordinance that will bring checks and balances to the outsized influence lobbyists have had on our city.
Of course, the city needs to support the Anaheim Resort, and we do. What’s been missing is balance. The November election was about restoring focus on our neighborhoods and ending deals that benefit just those that employ particular lobbyists.
To get an idea of how out of balance things had become, consider these actions taken by the City Council prior to last November’s election:
• Contracting to give away $700 million of future general fund revenue as “economic assistance” to three luxury hotel developers, including $260 million to Walt Disney Co.
• Exempting the Disneyland Resort from paying taxes on admissions or parking for up to 45 years, superseding the will of the voters, should they deem a modest tax needed to maintain vital city services. Now if the city finds itself in a dire financial state the only real alternative is a broad tax on residents themselves.
• Attempting a giveaway of taxpayer-owned Angel Stadium of Anaheim by leasing for development the 150 surrounding acres for $1 dollar per year for 66 years — for land worth more than $500 million.
• Rezoning city-owned, park-designated land and then selling it for the construction of industrial buildings.
All of this comes on top of the city’s $856 million in bond indebtedness, of which 97 percent of the proceeds were spent in support of the resort…