A Tale of Two Anaheims

Disney may have won the day against the construction of affordable housing in its "tourism zone" but the coalition forged in the struggle against The Mouse is alive and well and pushing for a community benefits agreement in Anaheim's Platinum Triangle development.

To follow suit in Anaheim, OCCORD must get to the table with the city and the Colorado-based Archstone, the developer given exclusive rights by the city to develop the parcel. The Angels also need to be there, Altman says.

The Angels lease their stadium along with the adjacent land that includes the area set for Archstone’s development. That current lease agreement excludes residential development, and OCCORD will have to persuade the Angels to change that. Altman says it’s too early to comment about the status of OCCORD’s outreach to any of the parties the organization might be negotiating with, including the Angels.

Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead confirmed that the Angels’ lease rules out residential development but said it was too early to comment on the development process and whether they would meet with community groups or change the lease to allow housing.

Sources close to the two camps say the Angels responded favorably to an invitation to meet, but no date had been set as of mid-April.

OCCORD has met with Archstone, but has yet to see what that could yield, Altman says. An Archstone spokesperson would not comment on events in Anaheim, but said his company is committed to working with community leaders wherever they have a development.

Meanwhile, OCCORD has gradually stepped up pressure on the city, the developer, and the Angels. In October 2007, even as the Disney fight dragged on, OCCORD set up a display outside City Hall called “A Tale of Two Anaheims” with photos of graffiti-tagged fences alongside pictures of Anaheim’s million-dollar-plus homes, accompanied by charts illustrating income gaps and housing costs.

In January 2008, activists from unions, religious, and community organizations ignored the cold rain blown sideways by chilly winds to march in support of more equitable development.

And in March, OCCORD delivered 2000 postcards to City Council urging negotiations and plans to deliver at least as many to Archstone and the Angels.

It’s hard to predict how the Angels will react. Arte Moreno, the Angels’ owner, has a hands-on, pragmatic reputation that makes activists hopeful he may want to talk. Moreno became wealthy as an outdoor advertising executive and became the first Latino major-league owner when in 2003 he purchased the Angels franchise from — who else? — Walt Disney Company.

The fight is only beginning. But Altman sees good-faith negotiations as a win for all parties. “We think it makes sense — the development partners have nothing to lose and everything to gain from having a dialogue.”

Bobbi Murray is a communications professional who began her career as a grassroots organizer and has worked as a radio producer, fundraiser, media liaison and journalist. Her reporting has taken on a broad sweep of issues--politics, police reform, economic justice, immigration, globalization and labor in such publications as LA WEEKLY, the LOS ANGELES TIMES, LA CITY BEAT and LOS ANGELES magazine, as well as THE NATION.


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