Brandman should’ve moved into D5, to avoid Carpetbagging Charges and to address Eminent Domain




Old-timer residents, in my East Anaheim neighborhood, fondly remember when the Rio Vista Inn was a well-visited steakhouse. It was the place to have a family dinner nearby. Now the Inn is a dive bar, known for its tacos snacks and karaoke sessions. Together with a next door taqueria and a Del Taco, they practically anchor what is supposed to be the neighborhood shopping mall. A chain supermarket was the neighborhood grocery store until closing down a few years ago, during the economic recession of the George W years.

The empty grocery building became a gathering place for homeless people, before the shelter opened a few blocks away. Since then, most neighbors living in the houses of the residential tracts avoid patronizing the mall, and those living in the apartment buildings seem to enjoy the remaining businesses.

The dissatisfaction with the mall predates the recession, contacting city government throughout the years, which has provided code and police enforcement. Countless meetings with mayors, council members, city managers, department heads ended up with promises or corrective measures that solved or improved some aspects but did not address the question of how to effectively revitalize the mall.

The deterioration of the shopping center was not adequately addressed until the district governance system was adopted. It became a priority item in the agenda of the council member representing the district, Steve Faessel. Mr Faessel arranged meetings with senior city departments managers and neighbors. He also located the owners of the mall,  and discussed their willingness to improve the condition of the property.

Two factors emerged as fundamental barriers to a feasible and desirable outcome:  the multiple owners and the evolution of the market regarding retail stores. Negotiating with several owners, there are at least four , is very challenging.

According to the city experts, most retail businesses are no longer placing stores in locations that are not in dense customer traffic areas. If retail is no longer attracted to small, out of the way neighborhoods, the chances to have a reputable business occupying the empty building in the mall are slim. No wonder that even the extinct “Fresh and Easy” was not interested in this location, neither a subsidized Disney gift store.

Some of the existing small businesses are fairly successful, such as the taqueria, the chorizo factory ,the pizza place, the laundromat; we also have the classical liquor store and doughnut shop. In addition to having an empty building, a large piece of the property is parking area, behind businesses, often occupied by polluting trucking rigs. The property is underutilized.

The most effective restoration of this area, according to the experts, could be the rezoning of the property, from commercial to mixed use. This would incorporate small business with some sort of residential development, a trend that is taking place in many cities. The probably requirement of offering affordable housing in this type of development may not be welcome by some neighbors.

Another major issue would be that the owners of the property may not be willing to sell, or asking an extremely high price. I understand that a potential developer was discouraged after contacting some of the owners. The price to sell their share of  the property was unreasonable high.

When we are practically dealing with slum landlords unwilling to cooperate, the undesirable “eminent domain” could be worthwhile to consider. We have been waiting too long for the traditional market forces to work its magic in this area in a balanced manner.

In this scenario, Jordan Brandman could be more effective than Steve Faessel. Mr Faessel would not break with this mostly conservative dogma aversion to eminent domain. Brandman, as a Business Democrat, would be more open to explore this option. If it does not work out, we will continue living with the mall as it is now , and who knows,  Brandman’s platform of bringing a Trader Joe’s to Anaheim, we are even willing to settle for an Aldi, could have a greater support in this district.

By the time that the next district 5 election takes place, Brandman would’ve established residence long enough to avoid the effective Bushala’s type of carpetbagging signs like the ones below.  A freshly painted empty building may be still waiting for him.


About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly.