Save Our Anaheim Resort District Press Release
Anaheim Voters Call for Repeal as Referendum Qualifies
Council Representing More Than 100,000 Union Workers Joins Call to Repeal SunCal Decision, Save Taxpayer Dollars and Protect Police, Fire and Other Vital City Services
ANAHEIM, Calif. (June 20, 2007) —Election officials confirmed today that a referendum signed by 21,000 Anaheim citizens to protect the original tourist-serving vision of the Anaheim Resort District has qualified for placement on a ballot. The referendum now goes before the Anaheim City Council, which has the option to repeal its earlier decision or place the issue on an upcoming ballot. Save Our Anaheim Resort Area (SOAR), a coalition of community, business and labor leaders, strongly urges the City Council to reverse its earlier decision.
“Anaheim voters have sent a clear message to the City Council that it should repeal its vote and protect the original vision for the Resort District,” said Todd Ament, co-chairman of SOAR and president and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. “The Council should listen to the voters and spare taxpayers the expense and time of an election by repealing this decision.”
“Our members support SOAR’s efforts to protect the Anaheim Resort District and the jobs within its boundaries,” said Jim Adams, business representative for the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building & Construction Trades Council, representing more than 100,000 union workers, staff and officers in Los Angeles and Orange counties. “Our members collected signatures and spoke with voters. The Council should listen to the voters and repeal its vote on SunCal.”
The referendum targets a 3-2 City Council decision on April 25 that allows a high-density residential development in the Resort District. The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 17.
“As the largest single source of tax revenue that helps fund vital City services, the Resort District generates ten times more hotel visitor tax than any other city in Orange County. It should be protected,” said Larry Slagle, co-chairman of SOAR and president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau.
SOAR collected more than 21,000 signatures in less than 30 days and turned them into the Anaheim City Clerk on May 21 for verification. More than 100 volunteers participated in the signature gathering effort, walking neighborhoods and staffing tables at community events.
In 1994, the Anaheim City Council created the Resort District by a unanimous decision, and limited new developments to tourist-serving needs, such as theme parks, hotels, restaurants and convention facilities. The Council specifically said that no residential developments should be allowed within the boundaries of the Resort District.
Since then, billions of public and private dollars have been invested to upgrade streets, improve landscaping and aesthetics and turn the area into a world-class resort destination. As a result, the Resort District has become the City’s single largest source of revenue that funds police, fire and other city services. The Resort District generates nearly 50 percent of the City’s revenues yet is covers less that five percent of the City.
In fact, since 1994 the Resort District has more than doubled the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) or visitor tax it pays to the City from $33 million to $80 million.
This referendum is separate from a ballot initiative SOAR filed in March. The ballot initiative addresses the longer-term principle of protecting the District, its boundaries and land uses, and seeks to ban any similar proposals for future non-tourist uses in the Resort District without the approval of Anaheim voters. SOAR has made significant progress in gathering the signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot, and will continue to collect signatures over the next few weeks. The coalition has until Sept. 21 to gather the required signatures for the initiative.
SOAR is a broad coalition of concerned Anaheim businesses, labor unions, organizations and residents, who want a permanent solution for the future of the Anaheim Resort District and believe voters have a right to decide about that future.
Information about the referendum and the petition drive for the initiative is available by contacting the SOAR office at the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce offices, 201 E. Center Street, Anaheim, Calif. Phone: (714) 400-0734. Web site: www.soaranaheim.com.