Anaheim City Attorney: “Living Wage” Initiative Doesn’t Apply To Disney

Among the items on tonight’s Anaheim City Council aganda is a report from City Attorney Robert Fabela in which he states his opinion that Measure L – the so-called “Anaheim Living Wage Initiative” – does not apply to Disney.

One result of Disney terminating its tax rebate agreements with the city was it would no longer be subject to Measure L, which only applied to Resort hospitality businesses (and their affiliates, etc.) that had some kind of tax rebate or sharing agreement with Anaheim.

At that point, the union coalition sponsoring Measure L suddenly announced that when writing the initiative, it had in mind the 1996 agreement between the city and Disney that created the Resort District. Under that agreement, the city issues bonds (guaranteed by Disney) to fund the public improvements that resulted in the Resort District we know today, while Disney agreed to build California Adventure. Among the public improvements was the Mickey and Friends parking structure, which will transfer to Disney’s ownership when the bonds and interest are paid off.

The union’s attorney, Richard McCracken, claims that’s a subsidy and covered by the initiative. Call it what you want – it fall outside of what the initiative he wrote defines as a city subsidy.

Fabela threw called water on Measure L proponents’ claims:

“In summary, although there are many moving parts to the Bond Transaction, it does not appear to incorporate a direct City subsidy; that is, an agreement in which Disney is entitled to a “rebate of transient occupancy tax, sales tax, entertainment tax, property tax or other taxes, presently or in the future, matured or unmatured.” Therefore, it is the City Attorney’s opinion that Measure L would not apply to Disney by virtue of the Bond Transaction.”

Prior to Disney’s cancellation of the tax rebate agreements, the union coalition had kept this dubious claim to itself. UNITE-HERE and its allies have been talking about this initiative and the businesses to which it applies for literally months, and have never made this claim. Indeed, if they believed it, they would have written it into the initiative and weaved it into their talking points. Fabela’s opinion just throws into more stark relief the politically expedient nature of Measure L backers’ claims.

Anaheim Chamber of Commerce President Todd Ament praised the City Attorney’s opinion:

“With the Anaheim City Attorney clearly stating that Disney is exempt from Measure L, voters in Anaheim have a fresh opportunity to re-evaluate this proposal. It’s clear that Measure L will give very few Anaheim residents a raise. But that doesn’t mean its impact is small. Measure L still hurts Anaheim. By forcing the cancellation of at least two planned four-diamond hotels, Measure L will cost Anaheim over 3,000 jobs and hundreds of millions in future tax revenue. Measure L helps a few but hurts a lot.”

Fabela’s opinion will undercut the Yes on Measure L campaign to the extent voters are educated about it.  Despite the fact it doesn’t apply to Disney, it’s obvious from their campaign mailers that the unions are still trying to sell it to voters as if it does:



  1. Does Mayoral Candidate Cynthia Ward support Measure L?

    • She’s been kind of all over the map. She spoke positively and negatively about it before adopting the strange stance that she must observe strict neutrality because as mayor, she’ll have to preside over presumed litigation.

  2. Do any of the candidates support J K or L?

  3. Disney does not play around. They will think around something and it will end to their advantage. TYS. You will never force them into any other position than what they want. Their Brand will never be allowed to be made to look bad from a relatively small union. The union believing they could force Disney into anything shows how narcissistic they are. Oh they heavily promote Jose Moreno and are at his events and walking for him. Birds of a feather. How absurd and out of touch Moreno looks for promoting this.

    I will say it again, Jose Moreno is a pompous narcissist. He is damaging Anaheim by alienating our largest employer. He encouraged it until Disney considered it a hostile work environment (well played Disney). Sorry Jose Disney put Anaheim on the map and our city grew because of them.

    Do we want a District 3 councilman who acts this way. He appears to either be not as educated as he promotes himself to be or he thinks we are stupid and will buy his load of…

    Listen this is another example/reason not to vote for Jose Moreno.

    Well played Disney.

  4. I pray Disney turns all their might into helping us get Jose Moreno out of his council seat. Disney Anaheim needs you.

  5. David Michael Klawe

    So what did I learn at tonight’s council meeting.

    That all the businesses with 25 or more employees at Anaheim Garden Walk are subject to the ALWI if Measure L passes.

    That the Yes on L campaign has raised over $930,000 from Unions and other progressive causes.

    That no matter what happens, there will be lawsuits.

    Scary stuff and more reasons to vote No on L.

    In two weeks, a new agenda item will discuss the Garden Walk issue in more detail.

  6. It was embarrassing to the City of Anaheim to watch how Tait runs the Council meeting. Such lack of respect for the residents who took the time to speak at the meeting. We need to vote for the right candidates in order to assure our city moves in the right direction and continues to thrive. We need Moreno out! No on Paty Gaby who Tait recruited to run in District 6. Tait encourages a hostile environment and anyone he supports is toxic.
    I encouraged everyone to vote for these candidates.
    Harry Sidhu for Mayor
    Trevor O’Neil for District 6
    Mitch Caldwell for District 3

    • David Michael Klawe

      Resident, you forgot Jordan Brandman in District 2.

      Councilmember Vanderbilt made another dumb comment about Throttling Down Resort support. James, you do know the city owns the Convention Center!

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