A Quick Rundown of Oct. 6’s “Can’t-Miss” Anaheim Council Meeting




anaheim council meeting

Please find, below, a quick review of the October 6, 2015 City Council Meeting Agenda for Anaheim, CA. Enjoy.  You could use this for tonight’s remarks, should you choose to speak.   Or you could print it out, make a paper airplane and send in pics to Orange Juice blog so we know someone at least used it for something.

paper airplane

ITEM 8: asks for another $200,000 for Code Enforcement officers.

The money will be used to enforce violations of the short term rental (STR) vacation homes, so after hours violations like late night pool parties disrupting the neighbors who have to go to work in the morning makes sense.

  • Budget is available from TOT collected from the STRs. While the City has not made the TOT numbers public since they began collecting it in July, basic “back of the napkin math” shows collecting 15% from roughly $1,000 a week (often far more) on hundreds of these properties in Anaheim would result in hundreds of thousands of dollars during peak tourism periods. Using those funds to maintain what quality of life can be controlled when local residents lose their sense of community to constant turnover of “neighbors” is the bare minimum we may offer them in mitigation. Ideally the entire enforcement cost of the program would be funded by fees charged to those making money on the program, and not take from the TOT needed to maintain our neighborhoods.
  • Fines from scofflaws who make such enforcement necessary should offset the costs of enforcement, and fines for repeat offenders should be punitive enough to discourage those who refuse to manage their properties.

ITEM 8 ALSO, on the Staff Report, shows some of the additional Code Enforcement funds will expand the “homeless outreach” services. There seems to be some disparity between what we are told takes place in the community and what we see on video or hear from first-person witnesses.

  • homeless lady shopping cartYour one part-time Code Enforcement officer who assists the Homeless Outreach Team does not appear to limit themselves to “booking abandoned property throughout the City,” as the Staff Report claims. Videotape on YOUTUBE and social media shows they are ticketing people who have their ONLY REMAINING PROPERTY WITH THEM, while the Police add insult to injury by confiscating items that are HELD BY THEIR OWNERS.  In one video, a Police officer tells a homeless person they have “too much stuff” and they must choose between which bag will be given to the officer and which they may keep. Imagine all you own fitting into TWO BAGS and being forced to choose one. Do you select the family photos or your medication?
  • Officers have excused the behavior caught on camera as a reaction to events taking place off camera, and there is always a second side to every story, possibly a third. We do want to support our officers with resources to do their jobs. Can anyone envision a scenario off camera that justifies the ON CAMERA confiscation of an older woman’s bag of Depends undergarments? In what way does this make our community a better place for all? When did possessing a bag of personal protection equate to “storage of property?”


  • During the April 22, 2014 Council meeting, staff reported the homeless count from a point in time recording by the Anaheim Poverty Task Force in 2013 and 2014. Those counts revealed “three areas of high concentration in Anaheim: La Palma Park with 47 homeless individuals, Maxwell Park with 23 and Sage Park with 17.” Those three parks reportedly contained 25 percent of Anaheim’s homeless population identified in the most recent point-in-time count, as of April 2014.
  • Twila Reid Park was NOT an area of concentration in the 2013-14 population count. One year later, following the “solution” of a dog park displacing the homeless encampment at La Palma Park, neighbors around Twila Reid Park now complain of being inundated. This is in addition to the increase in problems reported by residents surrounding La Palma Park, when those who once slept in the park moved to nearby alleys, or helped themselves to empty houses. Did we “solve” the “homeless problem,” as Lucille Kring claims, by introducing dogs and activity in the affected parks? Or did we simply move the crisis across town?
  • Can we please stop calling this ”the homeless problem.” This is a Public health Crisis. This is a Humanitarian Crisis. Human beings lacking a place to be safe and call home are not “a problem,” and identifying this crisis as such strips our fellow human beings of their dignity by calling THEM “the problem.”
  • Those who decline the offer of “emergency shelter” may not prefer life on the streets, they may prefer the ability to choose where to lay a so-far lice-free head over the offer of a cot used by a stranger that morning, and the fear of lice, bed bugs, and the real or perceived threat of assault and theft of shelters.
  • Those with mental health issues frequently cannot tolerate the cacophony, chaos, and unpredictability of a human warehouse, and have no choice but to endure the street as the only alternative.
  • Utah has stopped building shelters, and gone directly to taking those in need from the streets to housing, and helping them overcome the challenges that landed them on the streets after they have a stable environment that feels secure and private, so those who naturally fear the human warehouses we call shelters can come in off the streets and the entire community benefits. This solution is STILL less expensive than the high cost of emergency services, including the ‘solution” of Code Enforcement officers writing tickets or confiscating the few remaining possessions of those who lack choices, largely because we have failed to provide them.

ITEM 20, Electronics Policy

The worst offenders.

The worst offenders.

Mayor Tom Tait has made the good faith effort to stop the widespread use of electronics by Council members at the dais. Whether they are texting home, emailing each other, or playing Angry Birds to kill time listening to constituents who have not donated to their campaigns expect some resolution from them for their issues with the City, AS IF that is their job or something, is immaterial. The fact remains that it is RUDE, and shows a lack of class, a lack of courtesy to those who have come to the Chambers for solutions to problems only City Hall can help with and/or may have caused in the first place. If the issues before our leaders are not important enough to hold their attention for the duration of the meeting, they need to seek another hobby.

This policy to forego using electronics at the dais merely addresses the issue of the Brown Act, and the Open Meetings law’s prohibition against ex parte communications. But because the City Attorney addressed only the legality of texting or emailing during a public meeting, we fail to address the basics of common courtesy and respect for one’s constituents. That respect is owed to the public these leaders went out and begged for the chance to serve.

I predict the electronics policy will be shot down, given that the new standard for Anaheim uses the requirements of law as the ceiling, rather than the floor is was intended to be. It is time for Anaheim leadership to rise above the law, to act as a City in ways that do not merely skirt along the edges of the required bare minimum, but perhaps restore some trust and credibility by EXCEEDING the expectations of constituents.

I suggest the following amendments to the electronics policy. I won’t hold my breath:

The Mayor and City Council of Anaheim shall show their respect for the people they are elected to serve and the process designed for that service with the following promise:

  • Leaders shall not use electronic devices to communicate with each other or those outside of the meeting during their service to citizens during public meetings. The business of the people of Anaheim is worthy of the full attention of those elected to office.
  • Electronic devices may be left with Policy Aides or other staff, so that leaders may be alerted to emergency contact from home. Someone will answer the phone for you, honest.
  • Leaders will conduct all of the City’s business on devices or accounts that may be accessed by City staff. Use of personal devices or accounts for convenience may be supplemented by simply “cc’ing” their City account to create a searchable public record. Personal communication such as a request for basic information or meeting may be exempted, but any communication likely to result in action before the City Council in the foreseeable future shall be considered “the business of the people” and thus those records shall be accessible to the people.
  • Consistent use of personal accounts to avoid creating a Public Record regarding obvious City business will be considered for misdemeanor charges.

While not an “electronics policy” I suggest that in this spirit the leaders of Anaheim also pledge to minimize their habit of getting up and chit-chatting with each other, staff, or visitors in chambers while the meeting is in session. Complaints of this activity were met by the objection from Council that they need to get up and use the facilities, nobody objects to that, unless we want an object lesson on needing to use a restroom closed to their use, as they have mandated for the homeless. No? But whispering in the ear of the City Manager or a seat-mate while a constituent is using their scarce 3 minutes of Public Comment period screams of disdain for those they went door to door begging to represent. Not one of these individuals would get up from a dinner table, walk over to another dinner guest and whisper into their ear, giggle with each other at some private joke the rest of the diners were excluded from, and then return to their seat for the meal. Why would this be acceptable in the format of a Public Meeting in which we are all participating?

See you at 5!

About Cynthia Ward

I am a truth-teller. It gets me in trouble. But if you ask me if a dress makes you look fat, I will tell you so, and help select another, before you go on television and realize it for yourself. My real friends are expected to be truthful with me as well. A secret shared will be taken to my grave, but lie to me, and it will end up here…on these pages… especially if you are tasked with the stewardship of public resources. I am a registered Republican who disdains the local GOP power structure, a born-again Christian who supports everyone’s right to spend their lives with the partner of their choosing. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am a loyal friend to those who merit that friendship and when crossed I am a bitch with a capital C. I do not fit into a box, nor do I see others through the stereotypes that politics and public affairs so often tries to shoehorn us into. I think for myself, and so do you. Welcome to our shared space in this world.