Anaheim Citizens File Request for Rehearing on Disneyland Forward.

Vern here. I still haven’t had a chance to write my report on the April 16 meeting at which our Anaheim Council unanimously approved the Disneyland Forward proposal, with no delay or changes. It’ll probably be called something like “Disney Still Calls All the Shots in Anaheim.” For one (of many) things, I’m still trying to count how many pro-DF commenters were actual residents (as opposed to employees or union leaders etc.) versus all the actual residents who were critical of the project.

But this Tuesday, May 7, some residents are requesting a rehearing. Which would have to be pulled from the Consent Calendar by a councilmember, and then approved by Council. At the same meeting as the “second hearing” on the project itself. Sounds like a long shot, but it’s the next necessary step for those of us who “like Disneyland but love Anaheim more.” Here are the listed “Applicable Grounds” for the rehearing request:

Applicable Grounds 2. There was not a fair hearing and the petitioner was thereby deprived of any rights; 

a.              Anaheim residents were denied adequate time to share their views when what was promised to be two separate Public Hearings were combined into one. This reduced, by half, the time permitted to speak on the issues of street abandonments and the DisneylandForward project as a whole. It also deprived the public of the option to support the expansion project while opposing the abandonment of roads, despite Council acknowledgment that the road closures were a key issue for opponents of the project leading up to the April 16, 2024 meeting. 

When the Public Hearing for the abandonment of streets was set during the City Council meeting of February 27, 2024, as Agenda Item 24, several City Council members asked City staff about whether the street abandonment Public Hearing would be rolled into the Disneyland Forward Public Hearing. Rudy Emami and Ted White both answered that the street abandonment would be a separate Public Hearing from the DisneylandForward hearing. Ted White stated that both Public Hearings were being planned for the same date and meeting but that there would be two separate Hearings to allow the public to share our views on each subject.


i.               Two separate Public Hearings were critical to the exercise of rights by the public, as many speakers commenting on the Disneyland Forward project for weeks leading up to the Public Hearing had expressed their desire to approve the project itself without the closure of Magic Way. By combining all agenda items into one Public Hearing, residents were left unable to oppose the closure of Magic Way without also opposing the Disneyland Forward project. 

ii.              Combining all subject matter into one Public Hearing also left the public with only 3 minutes to comment on both the expansion project and the closure of public roads, and review of the Public Comments portion of the meeting shows numerous residents running out of time prior to completing their thoughts. 

b.              Some Anaheim residents opposed to the project were denied a reasonable opportunity to speak altogether, due to the City of Anaheim’s deliberate actions which deviated from past practice, making it physically impossible for some to retain their place in line to speak during Public Comments.  Seats inside of Council Chambers were reserved for City staff and Disney supporters. No accommodation appears to have been considered to make seating available for those residents within the Public Notice area. Those arriving at City Hall as early as 3 pm were left outside of the building. City staff failed to follow the usual practice of collecting Speaker Cards to reserve an opportunity to speak, and residents were forced to stand in line for hours to hold their places. Folding chairs had been “zip-tied” together, making it impossible to use the seating provided to sit while in line. No accommodation had been made for those with mobility issues who might be physically unable to stand in place for hours, nor was there accommodation to use the restroom without losing one’s place in line. Due to this physical hardship, many speakers left without the opportunity to address the City Council, as shown by the number of speakers who did not appear at the microphone, after being called by the City Clerk As the applicant had already reserved the majority of seats in Council Chambers for their own supporters, it stands to reason that leaving speakers outside City Hall would adversely affect those opposed to the project.  

(There is a belief that this action may also have violated ADA requirements, but that is not the subject of this particular request for rehearing.) 

c.              Members of the Anaheim City Council failed to act with disinterested zeal, indicating their reluctance to fairly consider testimony from those opposed to the project.

i.               During the allotted time for Public Comments, Mayor Aitken and members of the City Council spoke amongst themselves, laughed with each other, or departed from the Chambers, indicating they were not granting residents the equivalent attention offered to the applicant. Evidence of this is available in video format at Further evidence is available in the Granicus video record of the April 16, 2024 meeting.

ii.              During the deliberative portion of the meeting, marked by time stamp 8:58:11 on the Granicus video, Councilmember Diaz made a lengthy statement in which he dismissed, without examination of evidence, a resident complaint regarding Deputy City Manager Ted White offering misinformation to the public. Councilmember Diaz failed to clarify statements to determine whether incorrect information might have been presented to the public. Instead, the Councilmember indicating extreme bias in favor of City staff to the exclusion of resident complaints;

Beginning at 8:58 time stamp on Granicus video

Councilmember Jose Diaz:

“A comment was made about Ted White that he lied. Ted, I know your character, I know your integrity. Ted White did not lie about anything here, in fact, I see City Manager’s office here, I see Finance, Public Works, Public Utilities, Fire, Community Services, Economic Development, Housing. I put my hands in the fire for you guys. I know your integrity, I know who you are, you don’t deserve to be called corrupt, you don’t deserve to be called liars. You are not. You have a lot of integrity and I stand by you. That’s my first point.”

Applicable Grounds 3. There was a prejudicial abuse of discretion by the City Council within the meaning of Section 1094.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the State of California; 

a.              City of Anaheim accepted/adopted all DisneylandForward-provided studies as being true and accurate. Independent appraisals/studies were not ordered or completed by the City of Anaheim for verification of information, in violation of City Policy. 

i.This failure is in direct violation of Council Policy 5.5, which states in any case where the Senior Real Property Agent finds that the fair market value of such property interest may exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00), he or she shall order an independent M.A.I. appraisal of such property interest. The cost of any such appraisal shall be borne by the applicant and shall be deemed an obligation of the applicant due and owing to the City.”

Council policy 5.5 Adopted 01/31/89; Amended 06/05/07 

The Abandonment or Vacation of Public Easements or Rights- Of-Way 

It is the policy of the City Council that any applicant requesting the abandonment or vacation of any easement, right-of-way or other property interest (collectively referred to herein as “property interest”) by the City shall, as a condition of approval of any such abandonment or vacation, be required to compensate the City in an amount equal to the fair market value of such property interest. 

b.             The Real Property Section of the City Engineer’s Office (“Senior Real Property Agent”) shall be responsible for recommending the fair market value of any such property interest and shall provide such information to the City Council and the applicant prior to any decision by the City council to vacate or abandon any such property interest. Final determination of fair market value shall be made by the City Council except where otherwise provided by law. If the Senior Real Property Agent, at his or her sole discretion, determines that an independent appraisal is advisable, or in any case where the Senior Real Property Agent finds that the fair market value of such property interest may exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00), he or she shall order an independent M.A.I. appraisal of such property interest. The cost of any such appraisal shall be borne by the applicant and shall be deemed an obligation of the applicant due and owing to the City. 

The requirements of this policy shall not apply (1) to the Summary Vacation of unused easements, (2) to property interests with a fair market value of less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or (3) when the property owner dedicates equivalent easements or rights-of-way on the property to replace the abandoned or vacated easements or rights-of- way. 

Nothing contained in this policy shall prohibit the City Council from waiving all or any portion of the compensation payable to City hereunder, for good cause shown, to the extent otherwise permitted by law. 

Reference: Previous Council Policy 216 

iii.             Council Policy 1.0 allows Council Policy to be waived only with a vote of the majority. No such public vote happened, meaning the Council deviated from policy and standard procedure, indicating abuse of discretion by the Anaheim City Council. 

Council Policy 1.0

The purpose of Council policies is to establish standard practices and procedures for implementation by the City Council, City boards and commissions, and City staff which express the general intention and directives of the City Council. 

All City Council policies continue in full force and effect until expressly amended or rescinded notwithstanding any changes in City Council membership. Council policies shall be adopted, amended or rescinded only by a resolution duly adopted by the City Council. The City Council may deviate from or waive the provisions of any Council policy on a case-by-case basis by motion adopted by at least a majority of a quorum of its members. The policies memorialized in the City Council Policy Manual (the “Policy Manual”), adopted, amended and restated in full by City Council Resolution No. 2007-078 as said Policy Manual may thereinafter be amended, shall constitute the exclusive expression of policies by the City Council. Any prior City Council policies not set forth in Resolution No. 2007-078 shall be deemed rescinded and of no further force and effect, provided, however, nothing contained herein shall be deemed to prohibit the City Council from taking an action consistent with such former policy or readopting such prior policy in the manner provided herein. 

Upon the adoption, amendment or rescission of any City Council policy, the City Clerk is authorized and directed to immediately revise and update the Policy Manual to reflect such change. The City Clerk shall be the custodian of records of the Policy Manual and shall keep the Policy Manual, and make it available to all City Departments and the public in either hard copy or electronic format, or both. 

The policies set forth in this Policy Manual shall be deemed directory. Failure to comply with the provisions or terms of any such policy shall not be deemed a violation of any law nor be the basis for any legal action against the City, any City officer or employee, or any other person or entity. 

c.              The City of Anaheim may have engaged in ex-parte communication with the applicant, which denied the public opportunity to access and review the same evidence upon which the City Council based their approval of the project. 

i.               The City of Anaheim accepted a 9-page Executive Summary of an economic study by CSUF as the sole evidence provided to justify the economic benefits cited in the “Finding of Fact and Statement of Overriding Consideration” as an integral part of the Environmental documents approved on April 16, 2024.  Representatives of the City of Anaheim have stated they did not request the full CSUF report from Disney, nor did the City request a redacted version (or any version thereof) and operated instead with only a nine-page executive summary which does not align with statements made by the applicant. This disparity in facts presented vs. evidence cited indicates the potential for ex-parte communication between the applicant and City leaders, resulting in the City Council members approving the project without providing all relevant information to the public. 

ii.              At time stamp 9:13 in the Granicus video of the April 16, 2024 meeting, Mayor Aitken engages in discussion with Disney’s Ken Potrock, in which they discuss Disney’s support for using ATID as an ongoing source of funding for housing, and a “letter we hope to include in this public record,” was noted. No such letter appears in the Agenda packet, disclosed for public review prior to the City Council meeting. ATID’s enabling documents do not allow for such use of funds for housing. Nor has the use of ATID funding for “Community Benefits” related to DisneylandForward been publicly discussed or reviewed in documents available to the public. 

d.              Members of the City Council indicate they might not have examined all of the evidence, as they claimed to have done in the “Finding of Fact and Statement of Overriding Consideration.”

e.              All of these points considered, the current council was willfully and grossly negligent in their respective duties. They acted as uninformed decision-makers, and failed in their duties to fairly represent the people of Anaheim with the disinterested zeal required of their offices. 


Vern again, this may be a good place to insert this. On April 16, instead of reading my own comment I read as much of this Dr. Jose Moreno statement as I could fit in three minutes. (When I mentioned the former Councilman’s name, I heard hisses and snickers from the audience and dais.)

Mayor Aitken and City Councilmembers,

I urge you to motion and vote for a continuance on agenda item 14 on Disneyland Forward this evening. This is a monumental decision for the City of Anaheim, its businesses and residents. It is clear from public displays of concern that there are substantive items still to be understood, and with the continuing cloud of corruption that has plagued our City over the past several years, it behooves the Council to slow down. Below are essential elements that are not quite clear and need greater exploration and time:

1. The importance of publicly engaging with residents on what a substantive and meaningful community benefits package should consist of. The $30 million in affordable housing fund seems substantial but as calculated by city staff this amounts to approximately 60 housing units–in our city wherein there over 15,000 households living with rent burden and one or two paychecks away from homelessness per the City’s Housing Element. While the $30 million can be leveraged to attract state and federal dollars, it is important to note these are still public dollars having to be utilized to house a private workforce that is not likely not be paid wages that they can afford to live on in Anaheim. As it does not appear that any of you have hosted or participated in community forums specifically on this generational decision within your respective districts I urge you to pause and host community conversations with your constituents–a practice Denis Barnes and I found especially helpful in the now infamous Stadium negotiations of 2019 and Mayor Tait conducted in 2013. 

2. The City should expect and receive a commitment from Disney that new temporary and permanent jobs, which seem to be in the thousands, will not incur or contribute further to the City’s poverty rates thus requiring greater City, School and public dollars to mitigate. While Disney’s projections, and repeated over and over by the City PIO, that millions of dollars in additional revenues are expected from Disneyland Forward expansion, there is no analysis yet or at least not made public, of what the costs are for our City, County, and Schools to provide additional services and supports for a workforce/jobs that do not pay liveable wages in Anaheim and surrounding cities. As a reference, while we point to the millions in revenue the City has receives due to the 1996 Disney expansion, few mention that poverty rates in Anaheim overall and for Children in Anaheim are in fact higher today than they were in 1996. So while revenues certainly increased in the millions, so did the poverty of our City thus requiring more from our budgets. So I urge you to commission a cost/benefit analysis of projected new jobs, revenues and the wages and housing needs of the projected workforce including social services, school supports and health conditions. 

3. Despite your work over this past year to tackle the culture of corruption documented in the FBI investigations and ensuing JPL report, there is still a dark cloud that hovers over these proceedings. There has not been any meaningful actions of accountability taken by the Council as it relates to the behavior of executive leadership in the corruption scandal. Lastly, the applicant this evening, Disney Corp, was named in the JPL report as a meaningful contributor to the culture of corruption in our City, and refused to participate in the $1.5 million City investigation or offer any of its staff to respond to the role they played in the workings of the self-proclaimed “cabal”.  It is imperative that this matter be addressed as the City moves to build trust as well as for the Disney Corp. to be trusted in its representations of what is good for our City and residents. 

To close, for many of us the process and now proposal put forth for Disneyland Forward feels eerily similar to past experiences with large corporate interests in our City. As a Mayor and Council, you are our only line of protection from being taking advantage of as a City, you are the negotiators trusted to look after the welfare of our City and residents. Disney will do what’s best, first and foremost for their shareholders, that is their priority–we ask you to prioritize fully the residents of Anaheim who’ve entrusted you to clean up City Hall, assure transparency and full community engagement, and to provide the balance we so need from the greed that has too often consumed our City’s politics and priorities. 

Please do discuss the proposal tonite, take in ideas, propose stronger benefits, but please do not vote on this item tonite. A public hearing is to hear the public, take time to consider the full input and come back to then vote. Please continue this item and host forums in your respective districts to allow substantive input from your constituents. 

With appreciation,
Jose Moreno
Resident, District 3 Anaheim

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.