ANAHEIM — It wasn’t very pretty Tuesday night for the three members of the Anaheim City Council who voted to give away $158 million in future bed tax revenues to the developers of two hotels in the troubled Garden Walk district. A couple hundred residents showed up to express their displeasure over the decision, which critics say was rammed through without sufficient notice to allow for thoughtful consideration and public debate.
In addition to concerns over the impact on funding for future city services needed to support the development, the residents were upset that Council members Harry Sidhu, Gail Eastman, and Kris Murray doled out these public funds to the very same developers who contributed to their campaigns.
The deal was approved two weeks ago at the January 24th city council meeting. The council meeting last night was the first opportunity for critics to address the council on the decision. The deal was listed as a “discussion item” on the January 24th meeting agenda and many residents did not know a final decision was going to be made then. Mayor Tom Tait, called a Special Meeting for January 31st, to reconsider the matter, but the three members who voted for it chose not to attend. Tait and Councilwoman Lorri Galloway met with about 70 residents to listen to their concerns even though the meeting was cancelled for lack of a quorum.
The Orange County Register reports:
Vocal critics paraded into the Council Chambers on Tuesday carrying signs with slogans such as “No $158 million giveaway” and “Build communities, not hotels.”
Those critics included community leaders and many Latino residents who objected to a “giveaway” of millions of dollars while, they said, services are being cut to their communities.
Community activist Amin David said he hoped the council members who approved the project regretted it: “It is incomprehensible for us to understand why this happened … You have 158 million reasons to squirm.”
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