ANAHEIM — It looks like some Anaheim City Council members want to keep all their secret deals quiet. We’ve seen the revelations that the City of Anaheim has tried to purge all records that may cause them to be accountable through public records requests, and now we find out that the development agreement which gave away $158 million in future bed tax revenues specifically conceals the name of the primary investor benefiting from their gift of future public funds.
As debate continues over a controversial, $158-million tax subsidy granted last month to the developer of two proposed hotels in Anaheim, critics now are questioning why the city has allowed the developer to keep secret the identities of the project’s investors.
And among those critics are Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, the two council members who voted against the subsidy.
“When there’s a taxpayer subsidy, I think if it’s the public’s money, the public should know,” Tait said.
But because of a confidentiality agreement with the developer, the identity of the investor can’t be revealed until a later date, said the hotels’ developer, William O’Connell. “When everything’s signed, sealed and delivered, I assume I’ll be able to tell who the party is,” he said.
The subsidy plan allows a group headed by O’Connell and Ajesh Patel to build the hotels at the city’s GardenWalk mall and keep up to 80 percent of the hotels’ room-tax revenue for the first 15 years after opening.
With its proposed contribution, the city would in effect pay more than 25 percent of the project’s construction costs, and the investor in the project would realize a nearly 16 percent rate of return, according to a staff report. City staff recommended that council members reject the subsidy.
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