$60 Million for Disney Resort
* In reponse to “Wilson Pledges $60 Million for Disney Resort,” July 22:
I am appalled that Gov. Pete Wilson has promised the Walt Disney Co. $60 million in road improvements and a parking structure when the state budget is in such bad shape and cuts have been made in so may crucial areas.
It is also the wrong direction to take public policy. For the past decade local governments throughout Southern California, including Orange County, have required developers to contribute to infrastructure costs as a part of their development rights. The gift to Disney is the wrong message.
If it’s jobs he’s after, this money could go a long way toward rethinking the aerospace industry or developing future public transportation or stimulating alternative fuel vehicles.
Southern California does not need more low-scale jobs, and California does not need to subsidize these jobs or this development. If the project doesn’t “pencil” without taxpayer subsidy, Disney shouldn’t do it.
Former Mayor of Santa Monica
* In pushing for massive freeway and parking expansion at Disneyland, apparently it hasn’t occurred to Gov. Wilson, Caltrans, or anyone at the Disney Co. that California is making a massive and expensive effort to lure motorists onto public transportation. The $60 million pledge by the state to build freeway off-ramps and parking facilities ignores the obvious: an expanded Disneyland will choke even an expanded highway system.
Agencies including Orange County plan a major expansion of Metrolink commuter rail. Some of that $60 million surely could be invested in a spur line from the Santa Fe line through Buena Park to serve the park. Later, when Orange County builds its planned light rail system, it would be a wise move to have it serve Disneyland.
In Europe and Japan it is mandatory for rail facilities to be provided to serve such major traffic generators. EuroDisney, the new theme park built near Paris by the same Walt Disney management, has its own electric rail line. How odd that California planners, public and private, ignored this example.
It is probably true that Disneyland attracts large crowds of out-of-state motorists, but it would be a good thing if they could be encouraged to park at outlying commuter station parking lots, particularly on weekends when they would otherwise be nearly empty. That would help Anaheim manage its traffic and cut auto pollution as well.
* Of all insults to California taxpayers, Gov. Wilson’s $60 million gift to Disneyland may be the most outrageous, and should be an impeachable offense.
Disney Co., a purely business venture, gave $90 million last year to its chief executive Michael Eisner in salary, stock options and bonuses. Then it asks the taxpayers to provide ramps and parking structures, on which it will levy parking fees to add to the theme park’s already bloated charges.
While Wilson asks schools, hospitals, libraries and other public services to accept budget cuts, his giveaway to Disneyland on grounds that it “creates jobs” is gross mismanagement. Every business in the state that hires employees creates jobs. How many can get tax support to build ramps and parking structures? Let Eisner pay the $60 million from his $90 million income, and he’ll still have more than most Californians will see in a lifetime.
ROBERT B. McLAREN
* Is the state’s deal with Disney a helping hand or just a handout? I can see the logic of helping a project that will provide employment and economic growth; however, I did not see a mention of who will collect the cash from the state-funded parking structure.
Disney’s main interest, surely, is in seeing that people can easily access the park. The state should be able to collect the parking fees to assist in repayment or provide a not-insignificant revenue source for years to come.