Stop the Presses! Disney Has Had Input Into Development Of Anaheim Transit System!

Is this what passes for news nowadays?

Today, the Voice of OC reports that Disneyland has had input into the development of the Anaheim Rapid Connection system. Wow, what a shock. Public agencies (the smart ones, at least) always consult with and seek input from the public — which includes businesses — when developing transportation projects.  Yet, the Voice of OC and squeaky wheels like Cynthia Ward attempt to create the perception that doing so is suspect — at least when it comes to Disney.

Suppose the City of Anaheim and OCTA developed a transit system for the Anaheim Resort without any input from Disney, the largest single business in the resort? Suppose they broke ground and began construction without ever meeting with Disney and asking “Hey, you guys have 58 years of experience and loads of data on traffic patterns and resort visitor attitudes and habits. What do you think about having ARC stop at Disney Way.” Would anyone consider that intelligent planning?

[Maybe Cynthia Ward, whose published attitude is that the city can and should build some bare-bones system and Resort visitors should just suck it up and ride.]

Transportation projects are improved by seeking the input of impacted business and residents. Although the Anaheim Resort area is more than just Disneyland, it exists because of Disneyland. Millions of people come there every year, spending enormous sums of money and creating and sustaining thousands of jobs, because of Disneyland.

The usual Anaheim suspects have been demanding that Disney pay for the system. I expect that sort of talk from leftists like Jose Moreno, who have never met a corporation whose wealth they didn’t want to re-distribute. Indeed, Moreno and his cohorts want the city to impose a head tax on entry into Disneyland, Angel Stadium, the Honda Center (and likely growing list of attractions) fund their program for increased city spending.

Disney-phobia’s Warping Effect On Reason and Logic
But it is strange to hear self-identified conservatives echoing a leftist policy theme. Conservatives routinely — and rightly — blame much of the high-cost of housing on exactions and fees imposed on builders to “mitigate” the impact of more live bodies moving into an area. Want to build homes on your property? Then you’ll have to donate land for parks, pay to build streets, etc.; after all that infrastructure benefits the developer’s customers.

South Coast Plaza is a powerful traffic magnet, pulling huge numbers of motorists into its parking lots. By the logic advanced by Cynthia Ward, Jose Moreno and others, South Coast Plaza should be forced to directly fund a portion of the expansion of the 405 freeway. Indeed, this logic would demand the imposition of special exactions on all businesses located along the 405 corridor. After all, they “profit” from this massive improvement project.

“But that would be wrong since the 405 expansion is paid for by Measure M2, the half-cent sales tax which those businesses and their customers pay,” some might respond. Disney and all other resort businesses also pay the M2 tax — as well as sales and property taxes, a portion of which flow into Anaheim city coffers. Not to mention a special tax a number of Resort Area businesses have imposed upon themselves to fund ARC’s operation.

The City of Irvine will, at some point, complete the Great Park. Should the city have to pay extra to fund freeway improvements to offset increased traffic caused by all those people driving in to enjoy the wonders of the Great Park?

if we follow the logic of this thinking, henceforth all transportation projects should be accompanied by a special tax to be imposed on all businesses within a certain radius of the project, since those businesses are “profiting from the improvements.

So, the Alro Way Stop Makes the Most Sense…But Its Bad Because Disney Suggested It?
The VOC article casts in sinister tones Disney’s advice that a station on Alro Way rather than Disney Way makes more sense. Given that the single biggest ARC user group will be visitors to Disneyland, it doesn’t take a rocket scientists to figure out that the stop closest to the main gate is the best choice.  The City of Anaheim doesn’t — as the VOC article implicitly claims — to “commission a specific ridership comparison for the two different routes” in figure out that more people will rider a system that drops them off directly across the street from Disney’s main gate.

Let’s suppose an alternate future in which the ARC system is completed with a stop at Disney Way rather than Alro Way. It’s not hard to imagine articles in the Voice of OC or other media lambasting such poor planning and lambasting the city for not placing the stop across from Disney main gate, disregarding common sense and the advice of Disney.

it’s unfortunate that this article is it so blatantly tries to engender in the reader the sneaking suspicion that something is wrong, that the process for developing ARC has been illegitimate and unusual, that information is being suppressed and the development of ARC is being manipulated against the public interest.

In point of fact, it is a routine characteristic of good transportation planning to seek the input of impacted businesses. Eminent domain takings do take place;  critics might recall the Founding Fathers (who were hardly stingy in their devotion to liberty and limited government) provide for eminent domain in the Constitution.

Reasonable people can disagree about whether ARC should be a streetcar or enhanced bus service system; about whether the streetcar systems higher projected ridership warrants paying the increase cost. However, informed public discussion is not served by articles in the media and the blogosphere that are (in my opinion) characterized by prejudice against a single company and a paranoid belief that the whole endeavor is being orchestrated by a shadowy, self-interested cabal.

No comments

  1. Great take-down, Matt. I can almost hear Cynthia Ward telling Adam Elmahrek:”Look Adam! The smoking gun! Documentation that Disney told the city that it makes more sense to put a stop closer to rather than farther away from the main entrance to Disneyland!”

  2. Shirley McCracken

    Walt Disney wanted to build a monorail to L.A.Union Station. If politicians had his vision we wouldn’t be talking about “at grade” rail taking up traffic lanes.

  3. Seems Pretty Simple

    The Resort District is an economic engine for all of Anaheim. It brings in the financial activity that subsidizes city service and keeps the cost of living down for residents. Without it, taxes go up and/or services go down. The streetcar system is the integral link connecting all of the diverse interests that the city has worked so hard to create. Linking them encourages synergy. More people will want to use more of Anaheim’s attractions. More use means more revenue. Services can then increase and taxes don’t budge. It seems pretty simple but for whatever reason, Cynthia Ward and VOC hate it.

  4. Sick of Politics

    I personally think we should go the monorail route.

  5. Stand For Anaheim

    Cynthia is clearly doing Tait’s dirty work and makes money off of blogging. Get a life and start reporting on things that matter in Anaheim. It must be miserable to be that unhappy all the time.

  6. So let me get this straight…..you think that the more Disney makes the more we make? That if Disney hauls in more TOT or sales tax or increases their property tax base with greater improvements, that somehow we get that increase transferred to the General Fund? Is that what I hear you saying?
    That is what I hear “Seems pretty simple” saying…is it not?

    While I am here I may as well correct the words that you put in my mouth. My objection to the project route is not that Disney participated, you are correct that I would be screaming to high Heaven if the City did not coordinate with Disney, and take advantage of the incredible research they are known for. My objection is to Disney skipping over the use of their own property, in favor of taking (by eminent domain if need be) the businesses of others, in order to benefit themselves. If the reason was really about getting as close to the main gate as possible (a false argument when the Mickey and Friends tram drops guests off in Downtown Disney where you cannot even SEE the entry plaza) would that not have been noticed from the beginning? The documents I have show the use of Disney property for the Resort Station (ARTIC WEST) for months and months into the planning, until Disney hosted a design charrette at the Grand Californian, and when the consultants came back, reporting the route had been changed and made significantly more expensive with additional stations added, more property to be taken, and expensive utilities to be reworked, the consultants wrote in their reports, which were accepted by Natalie Meeks without revision and paid for without problems or comments, that the reason for the change which was DIRECTED BY DISNEY is that DISNEY DID NOT WANT TO GIVE UP THE PARKING SPACES on their own land. Pardon me if I don’t think that Disney’s parking spaces are the public benefit required to dictate the taking of other peoples’ businesses. I guess I am just anti-Disney like that….

    But I would like to hear back from Seems Pretty Simple regarding what they believe is our level of participation in Disney’s increased revenues. Please educate me..

  7. Cynthia, Disney isn’t taking anyone’s property by eminent domain. It doesn’t even have that power.

    Also, since it doesn’t make any sense to go with a plan that reduces the number of parking spaces in the resort area, who cares if it was Disney making that very sensible recommendation?

    Disney and anyone else can make all the recommendations they want, but the decision in the end is with the City Council. Your “Disney controls Anaheim” schtick is getting old.

  8. Seems Pretty Simple

    No Cynthia, read my post. I never mention Disney.

    Let’s keep it simple: You don’t like the current route. Big deal. Just say that. You don’t need to conspire with VOC to invent a story that something terrible must be going on. Please reread this post as there is no point in rehashing here the analysis above.

  9. I am not emotionally attached enough to “hate” it, but as a taxpayer I do resent it. This constant schtick of giving away the farm for the resort day in and day out is old. At some point what is going out no longer balances what comes in, (which is not the infinite possibility most people think it is, given that the taxes on the Disney properties were frozen back in ’95-’96) and it is our neighborhoods that suffer for it. At what point do we let businesses pay for their own improvements while we focus on providing services to the long neglected neighborhoods?

    You are right about one thing, it is our elected officials that made the decision to move forward with the most ridiculous boondoggle in our city’s history. That, my friends, is why I am sharing information with other residents, because I think we all deserve to know how our money is being spent by those who are seeking re-election. You happen to think it is a wise decision, and I happen to think it is a bad idea, we are each entitled to our opinions. We are also entitled to share them, which I have done, and if you don’t agree, present a factual case for the project, show us how the numbers work, because I do not see it. I only answered here because Matt put words in my mouth that I had not said, and I wanted to set the record straight. You have a delightful evening.

    • Sick of Politics

      So what would you propose as far as the route is concerned? I’ve said before on here that I personally prefer the monorail route but that’s been quashed.

  10. Disney should have developed a street car in the area of Anaheim outside of the park years ago, maybe when the big aerospace downturn occurred Anaheim might not have had white flight as much. Anaheim could have gone on a moderate level in the 1990’s, genfried before the white flight hit the neighborhood instead the resort system asked for the lowest skilled workers and guest what the gang problem and conflict with the cops was the result.

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