March 20 Anaheim City Council meeting public comments on affordable housing

Having attended tonight’s “standing room only” meeting of the Anaheim City Council I thought I would share some of the comments made by the 15 speakers on Consent Calendar Agenda Item 53 that will not be debated this evening. This Agenda Item reads: “Consider a request for rehearing for General Plan Amendment No. 2006-00448 and Amendment No. 8 to the Anaheim Resort Specific Plan No. 92-2 (City Council public hearing held February 13, 2007; Request for rehearing submitted by SunCal Companies.”

The first speaker on this issue said “the world is upside down” where the (Disney)resort is paying minimum wages yet opposes housing for these workers. He went on to add that the lack of affordable housing creates poverty.

Let me add my two cents before going any further. Roughly twenty five years ago we had a firm perform subcontracting of electronic sub assemblies in Korea. Our site qualification team reported back that the Korean manufacturer provided dorm rooms above the factory for most of the workers and had bus service to town for those who elected to live outside the plant. That’s not the way we operate in America. At least I don’t believe it is the responsibility of employers to provide housing for their employees.

Another fact to consider. Before taking any job one would hope that the workers analyze their potential take home pay versus the total cost of living before accepting a position in an area where said expenses might be higher than they can afford to pay.

There are several sides to this issue compounded by the possible litigation from Disney. That intimidation action does not make points with me.

As a property rights advocate we should look at all of the facts without emotion.

What is the present zoning? I raise that point in that Mission Viejo, where I reside, is under pressure to meet a state “advisory” that we add to our affordable housing stock where we are currently 94 units short. That leads me to another facet of this complex issue. Is the city of Anaheim compliant with their current affordable housing requirement?
What promises, if any, were made to the builder of the housing units?

Let me return to the speaker comments:

The President of Local 68 said their membership is around 5,000 in the resort area. In fact she asked those in the chambers to show their support for housing by raising their hands. Including the children, my sense is that there might have been upwards of 50 that responded. She asked the Council to vote for option two to reconsider affordable housing.
One speaker of Syrian descent urged the council to re-vote this matter to work out an alternative. He reminded the council of Disney’s slogan of being “the happiest place on earth.”

Larry Lawson of Anaheim Hills expressed his concern with Disney’s attempt to intimidate the city. He went on to remind us that the city predates Disneyland and the LA Angels. His point is the bigger issue at hand. “Who is going to run Anaheim?” Great point. And I hope the council remembers that as they seek a solution to this development challenge.

Another speaker said “the resort requires a housing component.” As I do not live in the city of Anaheim I am not aware that Disney is expanding. If that is correct, than where are these workers living now? Again, they had choices to make in accepting their job, including… where can we afford to live?

The final speaker mentioned that Anaheim has a thriving resort area and that there is a need to address affordable housing.

No meeting would be complete without Eileen McCarthy of the Public Law Center. She has spent many Monday evenings in our council chambers threatening our city council to add affordable units even when we are totally built out except for a few commercial sites. She did state her support for the re-hearing request and reiterated that housing is desperately needed.
She added that there will be a new assessment for 2006-2014 that may impact their housing stock. Her final point was to express a concern regarding the displacement of the present low income housing stock with any development. That is a valid point.

As much as I can appreciate the request for adding affordable housing, the challenge to the council is to find some middle ground where neither side gets 100 percent of their wish list. Perhaps there is another area in the city where affordable housing can be built.

OK.. Long report. Now it’s your turn.

What suggestion(s) do you have for the Anaheim City Council?

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