In his inaugural State of the City address yesterday, Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu laid out an ambitious, upbeat vision of resident-driven investment in neighborhoods and economic development with a purpose – the underpinnings of what he termed a “new Golden Age for Anaheim.” [Click here to read the speech.]
$250 Million In Resident-Driven Neighborhood Investment Over 10 Years
“Over the next 10 years, I pledge this: I want us to invest at least $250 million dollars of new city revenue – revenue that can be generated from all the investment we have talked about today – directly into our neighborhoods,” Sidhu told the audience of nearly 900 people at the Grove of Anaheim.
Sidhu said the time had come to replace rhetoric with action.
“We need to make that real for our residents. Investing in our neighborhoods cannot be a vague promise. It cannot be a “hope,” the mayor said. “It must be a real commitment! And from today forward, it will be.”
As a downpayment on this commitment, Mayor Sidhu will ask the city council to prioritize and immediate investment of $20 million into Anaheim neighborhoods – funding that would come from existing revenues, state transportation monies and borrowing against an over-funded city reserve fund.
Direction for this decade-long funding commitment would be resident-driven, generated through the new Anaheim First Advisory Committee, a joint-initiative of Visit Anaheim and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. Anaheim First will be made of up six 15-member advisory committees for each council district, and members will come from all walks of life and reflect the diversity of city residents.
Anaheim First currently has 30 members (five per district), who were present at the State of the City speech. The committee is expected to fill out to 90 members in the next few weeks.
Sidhu characterized the $250 million neighborhood investment and Anaheim First initiatives – as well as ongoing development in the Resort area and the Platinum Triangle – as a continuation of Anaheim’s tradition of public-private partnerships and economic development with a purpose.
“We engage in bringing jobs and investment to this city so that we can invest the proceeds in our neighborhoods,” Sidhu said. “For many years, the promise of Anaheim has been that as our economy thrives, our people will thrive with it.”
Development around the Honda Center and ARTIC, this summer’s opening of Stars Wars:Galaxy’s Edge in the Disneyland Resort, ongoing Platinum Triangle development – as well as potential development around Angels Stadium as part of a new deal with the team – will generate new property, sales and potential hotel tax revenue for Anaheim that can fund Anaheim First-directed neighborhood investment.
Anaheim Chamber of Commerce In The Foreground
Mayor Sidhu was clear in his support for the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce’s traditional leadership role in spearheading economic development efforts in the city.
“I am excited to be partnering with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce on this special day for our community,” said Mayor Sidhu. “When I served on the City Council previously, the Chamber was always a great partner for me. We sponsored a job fair. And a health fair. They are always looking out for what is best for Anaheim.”
“Thank you for always looking to bring jobs and investment to this city and being a great advocate our businesses and our residents,” continued Sidhu. “I look forward to continuing our partnership.”
Re-Imagining Transit Options for Anaheim
Sidhu also said it was time for fresh-thinking about mobility options for moving efficiently moving around and between the growing Anaheim Resort and the Platinum Triangle.
“As we continue to see new investment and new development in both the Resort and the Platinum Triangle, it is time to take a fresh look at all options to foster connectivity and mobility between these two economic powerhouses,” said Sidhu, announcing the formation of a Transit Options Task Force to study innovative options for moving pepople between these two growing, intertwined areas of Anaheim.
“Transportation and mobility connections continue to evolve,” said Sidhu. “It is time we update our thinking and our knowledge on all the options.”
Mayor Sidhu also called out the astonishing accomplishment of opening a temporary emergency homeless shelter on State College in just 14 days, allowing the city to move 325 homeless individuals out of the cold and into shelter, while clearing encampments from Maxwell, La Palma and Twila Reid parks and returning those recreational spaces to the public.
Yesterday, the last residents of the State College shelter had been transferred to the newly-opened Salvation Army and La Mesa interim homeless shelters .
The reaction from attendees at the State of the City event was universally positive, with praise directed toward Sidhu’s huge commitment to neighborhood investment and the confident, can-do attitude that infused the speech.
“I commend you for your commitment of putting 250 million dollars back into Anaheim neighborhoods over the next ten years, beginning with an initial investment of 20 million dollars next year,” District 6 councilman Trevor O’Neil told the mayor at the city council meeting later that evening.
“I’m honored to be a part of it,” said O’Neil.
“What a wonderful speech it was today – what an elevating speech – what a very positive speech,” commented Mayor Pro Tem Lucille Kring. “So much different than the last seven years at the State of the City.”
“Thank you for your vision and commitment to the revitalization of West Anaheim,” said District 2 Councilman Jordan Brandman. “Bringing the benefits of our city’s prosperity to all of Anaheim – especially West Anaheim – is of utmost importance to residents. I look forward to seeing your promise come to fruition. And investment in our West Anaheim neighborhoods, and a Trader Joe’s.”
“Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I stand ready to support you in this effort, and I ask my colleagues on this dais to also do that and entreat our city manager and our department heads to do the same,” continue Brandman.