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August 16, 2007

Comments

These are some nasty Mice

The only difference between you and me is that I am not paid to prostitute myself to Suncal for a few dollars every month.

I read the comment threads on these Disney/SunCal posts, and one thing is pretty clear. The pro-Disney people are a genuinely mean, nasty lot.

Jubal has always been up front about his relationship with SunCal, and about the fact that he makes a living as a consultant.

Jim, your uncalled for comments (and colony rabble's weird references to the square footage of Jubal's house) reflect pretty poorly on your side.

And Jubal's right that you're the person who keeps bringing up this Del Rio/Riverbend thing. If you don't want to talk about it, talk about something else.

Westsider

I'm an hourly Disneyland Cast Member, a nice guy and an Attractions Host who loads you into your boat on Pirates of the Caribbean or says the spooky spiel in the stretching room of the Haunted Mansion, and I'll weigh in with some thoughts here.

The "out of town developer" line Jubal has repeatedly mentioned here in regards to SOAR being funded out of Lake Buena Vista, Florida is a bit of a red herring. The bank account Disneyland uses for everything in Anaheim is located out of the massive Walt Disney World administrative complex in.... wait for it.... Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Every Cast Member at Disneyland gets their weekly paycheck from an account with a Lake Buena Vista address. That's all there is to it.

To try and paint Disneyland USA as an "out of town developer" in Anaheim because the bank account is processed through Lake Buena Vista is silly. And that's not a tactic anyone in Orange County would buy into, so I would humbly suggest CPDA drop that tactic as they try to sway voters to their side.

Disneyland is an integral part of the OC community, and will never be considered as an "out of towner".

the brain

This thread was quite an enjoyable read. Once again I'm so impressed by the quality of bloggers and quality of information presented. The independent thinking on subjects like this is why this blog is popular. Of course the paid commentary does lose credibility for either side of the issue, but I commend the open manner in which this conflict is disclosed.

It's pretty clear from the petition process success that SunCal has no community support. Other than Matt and the 3 councilmembers, residents seem to maintain strong support for their long-time friend and resident, Disney.

I don't live in Anaheim, but Disney has been the best supporter of community issues and causes year after year. They have supported local food bank and emergency housing organizations for decades. Without their continued support Orange County would not be able to help itself help so many.

The fact that Disney would step up to the plate and fight to protect the resort district is admirable. Disney is not unlike voters that stay on the sidelines until elected officials do something so stupid you cannot remain quiet. And yes, in todays political climate "getting involved" means re$ource$.

Thank you David Michael for your time in researching the campaign reports. Keep up the good work!

Jim Leonard

There are some nasty mice:
Nasty! You have not seen nasty. That will be later when I address the donations made by Suncal, et al to three of our council members.

Nasty was those blockers that Suncal hired to prevent the citizens of Anaheim from obtaining the signatures for the referendum to overturn the council vote. This is first time in 30 years that this has happened. I will concede that the blockers were the ones that Disney first hired to obtain signatures for the initiative, so when the referendum started, those problem signature gathers were dumped for another firm that had higher hiring standards.

If you would also go back to an earlier post, you will see that I have always acknowledged that Jubal is upfront with his relationship with Suncal.

Not only is the community strongly against Suncal putting in housing at this location, but I have yet to speak to a cast member or ex cast member that supports housing there.

Also, putting an end to River Bend, I have said nothing but good things about the project. It was only used to show that out of 603 homes there, none are designated affordable. The density there is 12 units per acre and if you drive over there you will see how close the homes are. You can call the building dept. in Orange to confirm this. The Suncal Project will have at least 76 units per acre which is a density six times greater than River Bend. I wonder how high up they have to go to develop this, but of course no site plan was ever submit to justify the zoning change, so no one really knows what Suncal is proposing.

Jubal is the one that seems to make an issue of River Bend because he worked on the project. I don't see him denying ot admitting that he or his company was paid for his work. I'm hoping that he wasn't and did it for his neighborhood. I'm only using River Bend as a comparison for what they are supposedly planning in Anaheim, which of course is anybodys guess.

Glad to see that Westsider put the "out of town" to rest for SOAR & the Anaheim Resort.

The company that sent it to me is going to replace the rotten ones. We can do the same thing with the city council if they continue to reprent Suncal rather than the voters of Anaheim.

redperegrine

Jim, thanks for reminding me about the actual density of the SunCal project. I had gotten so amazed reading the childishly irrelevant back and forth spin that I had forgotten the best reason for pulling the plug on the SunCal zone change - the density it promises to some future developer.

I wonder (aloud) if the EIR (a Program Level EIR? - must be since there's no actual project yet) adequately addressed unmitigatable impacts, and how much of a charade the usual "findings of overriding consideration" were.

colony rabble

I did not mean to get personal over Matt’s square footage, that was just my way of pointing out that I can pull together my own research without Disney feeding me facts. I do not see how that was nasty. Nasty is Lucille Kring stating that “80% of the information in the SOAR material is flat inaccurate”, and then refusing to actually detail what was inaccurate. Nasty is Bob Hernandez jumping in my face during a non-profit event, and insisting that “the days of single family homes in Anaheim are over”, including my own historic neighborhood, which some of the Council has “promised” to redevelop for affordable housing. Since our area is completely built out, how do you think they are going to do that? By demolishing bungalows? Nasty is the SunCal folks convincing the working poor who do genuinely need a compassionate answer to their housing issues, that they will actually be helped by this project. Nobody has bothered to tell them that not only will they not be able to afford the condos SunCal wants the entitlements for, but the units will result in a NET LOSS for affordable housing in Anaheim. No, this is not going to help them, and the loss of taxes on that parcel mean that we will all lose services in the end. Nasty is the density approved equates to the “projects” of back east that we are now tearing down as the failed social experiments that they were. But I have not seen SOAR do anything nasty.

colony rabble

redperegrine, there was NO EIR. How they can do that under CEQA is beyond me, but then our Council sees themselves as above the rules anymore.

redperegrine

If that's true then the council had to make the necessary findings for a Negative Declaration, some of which may have addressed mitigation measures - or may not have if the council had made findings to the effect that there were no significant impacts at all. Either Neg Dec scenario would be pretty hard to swallow - without the requisite lubricant.

Jubal

The only difference between you and me is that I am not paid to prostitute myself to SunCal for a few dollars every month.

Ouch!

Jim:

I'm going to give you a first and last warning, so pay attention:

I allow an open forum on these comments. I don't prevent Mouseheads like you from coming here and speaking your piece.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are somehow, miraculously ignorant of the rules of conduct in the comments section, which I find myself repeating every few days:

1) No profanity or obscenity

2) No personal attacks or gossip.

You have already managed to break Rule 2 with the above comment, which just makes you look like a vicious punk.

Now you've been warned. Do it again and you'll be banned.

And if you're going to call earning a living s a public affairs consultant "prostituting yourself," you might want to ask the consulting team at Disney/SOAR how they feel about that because your description applies to them, as well.

In other words, if you want to participate in the comment here, act like a grown up.

Jim Leonard

My, My, Touchy are we. No profanity was used and the attacks by your supporters are no more vicious than mine.

I have no problem with what you do and you make it very clear whom you represent and you are indeed fair, but I just wanted to yank your chain to see how you would respond. Maybe if you clamp down on some of the comments by other, we will also.

If you want to discuss land use planning, as that is my specialty, I will be happy to argue the merits of the Suncal Project on that level alone.

Westsider

Now that I got the Lake Buena Vista bank account red herring off my chest, I have another bit of feedback for the CPDA folks. Their Protect Anaheim website linked to at the top of this page has a glaring nomenclature error. The CPDA website continually refers to the "Disney Corporation". There is no such thing as a "Disney Corporation".

There is, however, such a thing as The Walt Disney Company. That's the company that owns Disneyland and is behind the SOAR campaign. Disney has never been a "corporation". Prior to calling themselves The Walt Disney Company, the organization was referred to as Walt Disney Productions from the time Walt built Disneyland up until the mid 1980's. At no time has it ever been called "Disney Corporation", and the word corporation has never been used in the title.

It would benefit the CPDA cause if they got the details right on their website and associated materials. We have a saying at Disneyland as we get the park ready for the day every morning... "The magic is in the details". As it stands now, the CPDA website has missed the details and is lacking the magic.

If Jubal or someone here could pass that on to the webmaster for the CPDA site, it might be of benefit to them.

David Zenger

Jim, you said:

"If you want to discuss land use planning, as that is my specialty, I will be happy to argue the merits of the Suncal Project on that level alone."

Why don't you do that and leave the effluence of spleen to the people who are hired to dish it out? I, for one, would welcome a "land use planning" debate. Since you claim this is yor specialty, let's talk about it - and skip the rotten fruit metaphors.

The first issue seems to be about CEQA compliance - State law, in fact. If no EIR was prepared and circulated, the obvious question is why not? How could the City get by on a mere Negative Declaration on the most dense project ever proposed in Anaheim?

colony rabble

I understand THAT is why Disney is suing the City. It is not a petty slap back from a giant corporation upset because they cannot run the City. Our City Council appears in violation of CEQA, and the largest employer in the City, potentially impacted by the loss of TOT related to the zoning change, is in the right to demand an EIR. I have yet to hear a reason for why Council thought it was OK to do this without an EIR, as it was long before I became interested, but I would love to hear what their reasoning was. Anyone recall that far back?

Jubal

My, My, Touchy are we. No profanity was used and the attacks by your supporters are no more vicious than mine.

I have no problem with what you do and you make it very clear whom you represent and you are indeed fair, but I just wanted to yank your chain to see how you would respond. Maybe if you clamp down on some of the comments by other, we will also.

Jim:

Pay attention. I'll use small words.

I did not say you used bad words. I just told you what the rules were in case you did not know what they were.

I don't care what you think of what other people say elsewhere. The comments section has rules. Abide by them.

Yank your chains elsewhere, and don't abuse my hospitality.

Jubal

To try and paint Disneyland USA as an "out of town developer" in Anaheim because the bank account is processed through Lake Buena Vista is silly. And that's not a tactic anyone in Orange County would buy into, so I would humbly suggest CPDA drop that tactic as they try to sway voters to their side.

Westsider:

Disney/SOAR characterizes SunCal as an "out-of-town" developer because their corporate headquarters are in Irvine.

By that standard, Disney is an out-of-town company because it's headquarters is in Burbank -- which wasn't in Anaheim, last time I checked.

Disney is a international company with facilities and operations all over the globe. It has a large facility -- Disneyland -- in Anaheim. That doesn't make it an Anaheim company, any more than Disneyworld makes it an Orlando company.

Jubal

I did not mean to get personal over Matt’s square footage, that was just my way of pointing out that I can pull together my own research without Disney feeding me facts. I do not see how that was nasty.

Are you guys for real? Cynthia, you claimed over and over again that you don't receive research from SOAR. I inform you I have proof-in-hand that that isn't true. Then you come back with some creepy comment about how you checked out the square footage of my house along with a snide remark about how I must be doing well to afford my house.

Again, Cynthia, that's just creepy. Fort someone who complains about "attacking the messenger" you and some of your cohorts certainly do a lot of it.

Jim Leonard

Dave, Sorry about the fruit analogy, but you are correct and have hit the nail on the head with your question. How indeed, did the city manage manage to skirt that requirement.

Your question is one of many that I myself have regarding the actions of not only our city council but of our planning staff. From what I have heard by attending the council meetings and watching online, the land was originally zoned for 2,000 hotel rooms. Because, the council or planning staff declared that this zoning was the equivalent of 1500 homes at that location, which we both know is like comparing an apple to an orange (Sorry about the fruit analogy).

I suspect that the city may have used article 3, 15043 b of CEQA as their excuse to waive the EIR on that location and to as you say, made a negative declaration on the development. My father-in-law and brother-in-law are developers in N. Californa and N. Nevada and they thought that it was highly unusual that any city would approve a zoning change not only without an EIR, but without any site plan or project that would justify such a zoning change. What we have here is something that really needs to be investigated at a higher level and hopefully the Disney lawsuit will bring out how three of our council members have possibly violated state law. This can be a grey area as cities under CEQA do have some latitude in this matter, the question is have they exceed this authority and I suspect that you belive as I do that the city has in fact exceed their authority to make such a negative declaration for this project of 76 to 77 units per acre and equating that with 2000 hotel rooms which will not generate the need for additional housing, police, and other infrastructure requirements that will have to be paid for by the taxpayers of Anaheim.

I have to question the wisdom of our planning department in even supporting this development. Overall, I am not impressed with that department. I'm not sure if you are familiar with Broadway where it crosses the Metrolink tracks just East of downtown. They are putting in some houses which have rooms that are about 20 feet from the tracks. Granted they have put in a tall block wall, but if a train jumps the tracks at that location, those homes are toast and when that train goes by, those homes will be rockin and rollin not to mention the noise generated by the metrolink trains. The first train goes by that location at 4:45 in the morning. Sure hope those people are early risers! There be a total of 20 trains going by those homes during the day (10 each way) and I'm not sure if Amtrack also uses those tracks. Those homes should never have built at that location, but someone influenced someone to get those homes approved.

As you may have noticed, I tried not to mention Suncal or Disney as this really not about them, but is strictly about putting housing where it does not belong and I suspect that an EIR would go against the developer.
I don't think any of us that are homeowners (Matt, included) would be happy if the city approved a multi-story hotel backing up to our property. In reality, the reverse of this is what is happening here. Two multi-story hotels already back up to the location and our council in its wisdom wants to put homes at that location?

Personal note
As my background is more in land use and planning, I don't profess to be a zoning expert. When I went to UCR, there was no urban planning major, so the closest field was in the earth sciences. I even spent two months in Columbia doing research for a paper on INCORA which was their Agrarian Land Reform Institute. While in Grad school I worked for a company in Los Angeles that did the feasibility study for a place called Cancun and the M. I learned how to do feasility studies while I was there and worked for several LA Builders doing feasibility studies. One of those was for the condos bordering the Palm Springs Municipal Golf Course and I did studies from San Francisco to Palm Springs. I also taught a couple of years at LA City College. Most of my classmates did go into urban planning or other city agencies such as rapid transit, but I chose not to as there is too much politics working for a city.

I think everyone that blogs should read
S. I. Hayakawa's "Language in Thought and Action" Granted the guy was a Republican Senator from California, but foremost he was an English Professor. I would pay special attention to the section on
"Labels" and "Glittering Generalities" I don't know if this book is still required reading, but it should be.

Dave,Please bring up some more questions regarding this deveopment. Better yet, how about going to the council meeting yourself and asking why they waived the EIR.



David Zenger

Jim, although I have a pretty low opinion of municipal planning departments in general, I think we have to concede the difficulty they face when a council majority presents a policy decision to go in a certain direction. The supposed professionalism of these people depends upon some kind of objective standard of expertise that comes to naught when confronted with a council majority.

That being said, it's still a little baffling to me that anybody on a professional planning staff thought they could get away with a Negative Declaration on this thing since it would obviously impact land use, government services, and transportation and circulation, just to name three CEQA categories.

BTW, I moved to Anaheim a few years ago and have stayed out of municipal issues. I have enough to contend with down at the County Hall of Admin.

PS Thanks for the reminder of Hiyakawa. I'll try to get a copy.

Jim Leonard

Matt,
In a small word: OK

I think that you are doing a good job, but are just working the wrong side of the issue. I have no problem with Suncal or yourself. I did not mean to "label" you in any negative context other than the fact that you are paid to do what you do and nothing is wrong with that and your website is a good source of local issues that more of us should pay attention to. Our actions speak for themselves so I don't mind being labeled as Pro-Disney and I don't think that is bad anymore than you being labeled as Pro-Suncal.

Our country has only three unique areas such as the Anaheim Resort. The resort being the first, The Mall of America being the second, and WDW the third. These three zones are each unique in their own way and comparing them would be a stretch. These are all international resort destinations that must be protected. The Anaheim Resort is probably the most fragile of the three zones as improper zoning can have adverse effects on the future of the resort zone and we must protect the zone for future expansion. This is not a problem at WDW as you made a point of.

When my letter was published in the OC register you made a point of saying that there would not be 77 units per acre at the Haster-Katella Location. Do you still stand by that? If you do, give me the percentage of land that Suncal would use for infrastucture at that location and I will go over the math with everyone as you seemed to question the number but did not give your own figure. I am of course talking about net units per acre, not gross units per acre. According to the city, the total size of the project is 26.3 acres.

colony rabble

Matt,

I pulled up the info linked to the web address someone else posted, in an effort to show I am perfectly capable of finding information without Disney. If I wanted to be creepy I would have posted the address itself, but it is never my intent to be malicious, or to disrupt someone’s home life. You used a home address to create a web site for someone I disagree with, and I found the address. Nothing creepy about it, just recognize that someone other than Disney can do a web search.

Of course I get the same email blasts that all SOAR supporters do, as you have seen by intercepting our e-mail (you are good at your job) Just because I was later included in the e-mail loop does not mean that I did not have the Hoover’s info first. I do research for a living, and I share anything I find with a group I support. Some they use, some they don’t use. I am sure that you find info, pass it on, and later get it back, sanitized into usable talking points. The difference is that you are paid for it, and I am losing billable hours to fight for the tax base and zoning integrity of my hometown. That does not make either of us evil. Let’s play nice with the other children. Oddly enough, people who know us both tell me that you and I would likely get along if not for the SunCal fight.

In the end, it is a moot point. The info found on Hoover’s and public records still points to SunCal being a business I do not want to deal with in Anaheim. Let’s stop shifting the discussion away from the relevant facts like density and appropriate development standards. SunCal’s position on this issue is incompatible with the Resort District Specific Plan that was developed over a decade ago, and has been wildly successful at revitalizing an area from a blighted dump to the “economic engine” of Anaheim. (I hate that phrase). For every two cops patrolling my streets, tourists gladly pay for one, and I am not willing to hand that over to Frank Elfend. The Council majority is no longer operating from a position of logic or reason, trying to negotiate the best interests of the community. Those three are now operating out of anger, and exacting their petty revenge against Disney, and the citizens who stand in defiance of Council’s misguided, and possibly illegal, decision to dramatically alter the zoning of a successful area, without documentation of the impacts likely to result from that decision. We need to stick to those issues, and stop sniping at each other. And I hope my editor-husband never reads these blogs, or I will never hear the end of it for my poor grammar, as I tend to ramble when I get worked up. I’ll pick up a copy of the book Jim referenced.

For the record, Matt, I do appreciate that you let us discuss all sides of the issues here. Thank you for letting us play in your sand box.

The development mentioned earlier at Broadway and the train tracks is a Mercy Housing project, it is 100% affordable, and I sat on the focus group for that. I am not anti-affordable housing, it just needs to be appropriately sited with schools and services that can support residents. It is a good project, and the people there are no more at risk from the train jumping the tracks than the residents on the other side of the tracks in the single-family homes. In fact, there are carports between the units and the tracks. I would not want to live next to the tracks, but then on Vintage Lane we have historic homes worth $1 million at the same proximity, so each to his own. As far as the Planning Staff, they do as Council directs them. I understand City Hall is a VERY tense place to work right now, employees do their jobs as ordered, and their personal opinions are not allowed to factor into what they do or how they do it. Unfortunately, if Council keeps putting their staff into this predicament, I suspect we will start seeing the turnover of some talented staff, and that will be a shame to Anaheim. We have good people on staff, and many are not happy with the way they are forced to do their jobs anymore. I would prefer to see the contentious Council members leave and let staff do the jobs they are trained to do, without the political motivation toying with zoning and land use studies. Anaheim is heading for trouble if we continue to let politics and campaign donations drive our land use.

Jubal

did not mean to "label" you in any negative context other than the fact that you are paid to do what you do and nothing is wrong with that...

Jim: You did mean to label me negatively. I'm hard pressed to think of a positive context for "prostituting."

I get the impression you and other Disney folks think that I only support SunCal's position because I'm a SunCal consultant. I'd been aware of the issue for at least a year prior to joining the SunCal consulting team on this project, and had always felt SunCal's position to be perfectly reasonable and in line with the philosophy of flexible zoning that had heretofore reigned in Anaheim since 2002. My opinions on this issue would be the same if I were not a SunCal consultant. I learned long ago that I am not very effective advocating of defending things I don't believe in, and so I avoid doing so.

Jubal

Anaheim is heading for trouble if we continue to let politics and campaign donations drive our land use.

A strange sentiment coming from someone supporting Disney/SOAR's $1.6 million (and counting) political campaign drive to control land use decisions in the Resort District.

Jim Leonard

Cynthia & David:
Sorry to use those homes off Broadway as a planning example where homes should not be built. I am glad that they are affordable, but we do need to do more for all the people who want to live in Anaheim. As you said, I would also not prefer to live next to those tracks, but people buy homes next to airports too.

Living here is not necessarily an entitlement, but a lot of people live here because they want to live close to where they work. Housing is just not an Anaheim problem, it is more like a National Disgrace.

Yes, I can imagine what the planning staff has to put up with having to justify not having an EIR which I'm sure was influenced by some of our council members. It's a shame that cities don't have the checks and balances that are found at the federal level even though even those can be influenced though appointment. Basically the SOAR referendum is part of the check and balance procedure. It exists so the people of Anaheim can either agree or disagree with the council vote and I have yet to meet anyone who admits to supporting the project.

I hope you all pick up a copy of S.I. Hayakawa's book. It was a real eye opener for me in understanding in how language is used to shape opinions and how to avoid labeling people or groups. We all do it, but we need to realize that we are doing it.

I'm sure Matt knows that a lot of the information out there is available to anyone with the ability and time to find it.
I love to search the donation disclosures. You really can see why certain council members vote the way they do. By the way, have you all gotten a copy of the LA times story from December 22, 1991. It was a very long article on Frank Elfund and his business partner Carmine Morinello. The title of that article was: Lobbyist Cultivate Ties to Anaheim Politicians Government: The two bring hefty sums to current council members campaigns. I can't post a copy as you have to go to the LA Times Web Site and purchase it and a condition is that it is for your own personal use.

I know that a lot of us will be at City Hall to encourage the council to schedule the referendum. If they don't, they might be violating the state election code? Also, if the Council votes to give Suncal a Freebie and put an initative on the ballot with going through the expense that we did to collect signatures. There will be nothing tranparent that they could hide behind to show whom they really reprsent.

I'm thinking of starting a pool as to how many times Bob Hernandez uses the word Transparency at the next council meeting. Gotta love the guy. He is so predictable.
Oh and all proceeds will be donated to SOAR.

Jim Leonard

Jubal,
You need to get a good unabridged dictionary. It was probably a poor choice of words. Anyway, thank you for clearing up your postion on the issue. I have more respect for someone who actually believes what they are doing is right than someone who is paid to believe it.

My prediction is that this mess is only going to get nastier but hopefully both sides can present their arguments and let the voters decide without the finger pointing and name calling.

Jubal

It was probably a poor choice of words.

That's like a husband telling his wife she's fat and ugly, and then saying it was a poor choice of words.

Whatever.

Just keep it clean, abide by the simple comments sections rules and everything will be jake.

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