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New idea in Disney feud with Anaheim

Times Staff Writer

Finally stepping into the growing fray between Disney and city officials, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle is proposing a holistic review of the city’s resort district that includes the possibility of workforce housing.

Until now, Pringle has steadfastly supported Disney’s position of keeping certain housing out of the tourist-friendly district. But he floated a compromise plan a day after the entertainment giant sued the city to block a 1,500-unit condo-apartment project near Disneyland from being reconsidered by the City Council.

“Is there a global settlement that will allow the city to step forward with its head held high and build toward the future?” said Pringle, who introduced his proposal at Tuesday’s council meeting. He was joined in the proposal by Councilman Harry Sidhu.

“I’d like to move this beyond an angry, frustrating debate where some people lose and some people win,” Pringle said.

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Disney seemed unmoved by the overture.

“Compromising the Anaheim Resort Area sets a dangerous precedent that would erode its position as the single largest funding sources for city services such as police and fire protection,” said Rob Doughty, a spokesman for the Disneyland Resort.

So far, Disney has been unyielding on the housing issue, arguing that injecting it into an area dedicated to tourists and night revelers would be a huge mistake. While Disney has fought the condo and apartment project, which would include 225 low-cost units, it has favored an upscale hotel-condo use.

Disney officials say they have nothing against low-income housing and that a hotel-condo use is much more compatible with tourist activity.

The housing proposal has become a serious irritant between some city leaders and Disney, which historically has had a cozy relationship with Anaheim.

The site for the proposed project is across the street from where Disney has entertained the notion of building a third amusement park.

The housing proposal died when the City Council split 2 to 2 in a vote last month. But the project’s would-be developer, SunCal Cos., appealed the vote, which might allow the council’s fifth and swing vote, Lucille Kring, to break the tie. She abstained from last month’s vote after Disney lawyers argued that her plan to open a cheese shop in the area should prevent her from voting.

In trying to play peacemaker, Pringle stopped short of saying he would vote to reopen debate on the 1,500-unit condominium and apartment project. “If we’re going to resolve this problem,” Pringle said, “we have to look at more projects than just one.”

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As part of Pringle and Sidhu’s proposal for the resort district, the 26-acre parcel on Katella Avenue and Haster Street and a 4.7-acre site on Harbor Boulevard would each be split into two parts: the street-front portion accommodating hotels, with condominiums and apartments serving lower-income residents to the rear of the property.

Pringle and Sidhu also suggested resort-only uses on a 6-acre parcel on Katella. They made no recommendation for a 12-acre site on Harbor and Ball Road where 449 residential units are planned.

Once zoning for the four properties is decided, Pringle and Sidhu suggest, a City Charter amendment should be passed, protecting the 2.2-square-mile resort district from future zoning changes unless approved by Anaheim residents.

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david.mckibben@latimes.com


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