The Orange County Register reports this morning that the vote that resulted in the $158 million tax giveaway by the Anaheim City Council violated California’s open meeting law the Brown Act. On January 24, 2012 the City Council placed on its meeting agenda discussion of an existing economic-assistance agreement between the developer of two Garden Walk luxury hotels and the city. According to the judge, that agenda description did not adequately describe the action that was being taken, the approval of the significant giveaway of future bed tax revenues to the developer.
Because of the inadequate description, there was little public comment in opposition to the decision, which was approved by at split 3-2 vote. The council decision sparked significant community debate, including an attempted initiative to prevent the council from making future similar decisions without the vote of the people, as well as the lawsuit decided this week.
The judge’s decision throws the matter back to the city council to either appeal, or simply re-vote on the matter with proper public notice. The decision will be made by the new council which replaces members Sidhu and Galloway who voted for and against the giveaway respectively. They were replaced by Jordan Brandman who has expressed agreement with the previous decision and Lucille Kring who has expressed disagreement.
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