Not That Happy Anymore

Things are heating up in Anaheim, Calif., where a dispute between the city council, a housing developer, and the Walt Disney Company has turned “the happiest place on earth” into a three-ring circus. Anaheim is home not only to Disneyland but also to more than 4,000 of the resort’s low-wage employees. Most earn between $6 and $11 an hour and are unable to afford the area’s steep rents. Many live in overcrowded apartments, in area motels, or in places with less-expensive housing. The city’s affordable-housing stock is limited, and its housing-assistance waiting list is years-long. In August 2006, three of Anaheim’s five city council members voted to reverse a 1994 zoning law that bans residential housing in the Disney resort area to allow the SunCal Company to build 1,500 apartments, including 225 affordable units. Disney officials balked at the proposal and challenged the council’s decision. City councilmember Lori Galloway says Disney is a part of the affordable-housing problem and argues that having housing close to the resort would ease traffic congestion, end long commute times for the 25 percent of workers who live as far away as Los Angeles County, and alleviate the strain on the city’s infrastructure. “We’re still begging Disney to help us with the problems they’re causing,” Galloway said. In response, Disney filed a lawsuit in February to protect the tourist area from “inappropriate development.”

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Shelterforce is the only independent, non-academic publication covering the worlds of community development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization.


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