[This OC Register editorial was published October 15, 2017]
A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times published a hit piece on Disneyland predicated on a misguided question: Is Disney paying its fair share in Anaheim? While the story raises some provocative questions about deals made between Disneyland and the city, the article had a seemingly predetermined narrative. Given Disneyland and Anaheim are in Orange County, and we analyze both the city and the company regularly, we thought we’d help the Times answer its own question: Yes, Disneyland pays its fair share to the city — if not more.
Disneyland is the single largest employer not only in Anaheim but in all of Orange County, providing nearly 30,000 jobs and stimulating the creation of tens of thousands more. As a 2013 economic impact study by Arduin, Laffer & Moore Consulting found, about one-third of the county’s $9.6 billion tourism industry was thanks to the Disneyland resort and its visitors. In addition, to the benefit of Anaheim taxpayers, Disneyland paid more than $125 million in taxes, bonds, levies, fees and contracts last year alone, according to the company.
By these metrics, and more, it is clear that Disneyland pays more than its “fair share.”
But the notion of “fair” presented in the story was quite different from what most people would think. While the story briefly asserts that “some of the city’s working-class residents said they don’t see enough of the upside” of Disneyland, it mostly gives voice to city officials whose idea of a “fair share” is more money in the city’s coffers.
While the story highlights problems like the city’s large unfunded pension liabilities, the 17 percent poverty rate and the poor condition of streets in areas throughout Anaheim, these problems are hardly unique to Anaheim. That’s not one company’s burden to fix — that’s the City Council’s job.
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