If you don't follow the intricacies of Anaheim politics, you might have missed the storm slowly brewing among Disney, the city of Anaheim, and a handful of developers. The battleground is the Anaheim Resort District, the roughly two-mile square area that is home to Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure, as well as a tantalizing amount of un- and under-developed property; the battle is for the right to shape the future development in and around the resort area.
The current skirmish centers on a proposed 1500-unit residential development to be built along the borders of a Disney-owned parcel of land on the southeast corner of Harbor and Katella, the presumed site of Disney's third Anaheim theme park. Disney opposes the project, and has sued the city of Anaheim in an effort to block the development. In an effort to place more permanent restrictions on such development, Disney is now backing a ballot initiative that would require voter approval for any land-use changes within the resort district.
In response, both the developer of the residential project and an Anaheim City council member are considering their own ballot initiatives to counter the Disney-sponsored measure. City Councilwoman Lorri Galloway has urged the Anaheim City Council to consider a measure that would require Disney (among other resort employers) to provide low-cost housing to their workers. The competing measures could appear on the February 2008 ballot.
Galloway needs the support of just two other members of the council, and is likely to get it. Galloway and councilman Bob Hernandez both voted in favor of the project in February, and were opposed by Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle and councilman Harry Sidhu. That vote resulted in a tie when councilwoman Lucille Kring, at the suggestion of Disney's attorneys, abstained from the vote due to a possible conflict of interest. (Kring plans to open a business in the nearby Garden Walk Development, but has not yet signed a commercial lease) The state Fair Political Practices Commission has since ruled that Kring may vote on the issue. Kring told the Los Angeles Times
that she is "very frustrated by what Disney has put me, my husband and the city through," and has indicated that she would vote to rehear the project.
In the interim, Disney is trying to persuade the city that the company's future plans for the area justify a continued ban on low-cost residential development.