Anaheim puts housing plan on ballot

Times Staff Writer

Third time’s the charm: After twice postponing a decision, the Anaheim City Council on Tuesday decided to place a Disney-funded referendum on the June 2008 state primary ballot asking voters to block a large housing project planned in the resort district near Disneyland.

The council had previously delayed action on the matter to give Walt Disney Co. and the developer a chance to settle their differences.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the vote was 4 to 1.

“This is a testament to the people who walked the neighborhoods collecting signatures,” said Todd Ament, co-chairman of Save Our Anaheim Resort, a Disney-funded coalition of business and community leaders that had pushed for the referendum. “This is the first step to resolving this issue and defeating the housing project.”

Lorri Galloway, the only council member to vote against the June referendum, initiated a resolution to delay setting an election date, but it failed to win support.

Frank Elfend, a consultant to the project’s developer, SunCal Cos., appeared confident that the housing plan would prevail.


“We look forward to sharing our thoughts with the voters, and we believe they will respond favorably to this project,” he said, referring to the proposed 1,500-unit condo and low-income apartment project.

Disney is also backing a separate anti-housing initiative, which the coalition hopes to place on a ballot. Ament, whose group described Tuesday’s decision as a “complete victory,” said he expected to turn in petition signatures for it before the Sept. 21 deadline.

Another proposed initiative would give voters zoning control over a third theme park planned by Disney.

Dozens of residents on both sides of the controversy had urged that the referendum be placed on the ballot. Patrick Pepper, a SOAR member, threatened to initiate a recall of council members and a grand jury investigation if the matter were further delayed.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Pepper said.

Another resident following him to the podium added: “What’s going on here? It’s like mafia tactics.”