Disney challenge to housing qualifies
The company-funded petition drive gathers enough signatures to put the project before voters.
By Seema Mehta, LA Times Staff Writer
June 21, 2007
Organizers have gathered enough signatures to challenge an Anaheim zoning change that would make way for a housing project near Disneyland, election officials announced Wednesday, forcing the City Council to repeal its decision or to put the matter before voters.
A spokesperson for the Save Our Anaheim Resort Area coalition, which gathered more than 21,000 signatures for the Disney-funded ballot referendum, said the success proved city residents understand the importance of the resort area.
"They understand that the resort district is the largest single revenue source in the city," Annette McCluskey said. "It truly is an economic engine."
In April, the council voted 3 to 2 for a zoning change that would allow SunCal Cos. to build 1,275 condominiums and 225 apartments for low-income families on 26 acres on Katella Avenue. Supporters say the complex would help alleviate the city's low-cost housing shortage, while critics contend it would jeopardize Disney Co.'s plans for the area, which include a third amusement park, boutique hotels and other tourist amenities.
Referendum backers submitted more than 21,000 signatures to city officials. The county registrar of voters found that 14,200 belonged to Anaheim voters, about 1,000 more than required. The city clerk's office will present the findings to the council July 17.
Frank Elfend, a consultant for SunCal, said he was not surprised that referendum backers gathered enough signatures.
"The Disney corporation has distorted so many facts associated with this project," he said. "We look forward to having an opportunity to put forth the facts in an honest and more straightforward fashion."
The referendum is only one of Disney's strategies to influence development in the area. The pro-Disney coalition is gathering signatures for a ballot measure that would require non-tourism proposals near the park to be put before Anaheim voters. Disney has also filed a lawsuit challenging the proposed development.