Best Misuse of Public Funds Orange County 2013 - Garden Grove's Redevelopment Insanity
All eyes have rightfully fixed on Anaheim this past year, between the City Council's subsidizing ways, its trigger-happy police department and the issue of district elections. But in the shadow of the Mouse ears, Garden Grove has been on a redevelopment rampage over the years, giving away free land and displacing residents while putting up more hotel projects than rich Uncle Pennybags. The city is desperate to be known for more than being the hometown of actor Steve Martin, and it knows its Harbor Boulevard corridor is close enough to steal some swag from the Disneyland Resort in a race to the bottom. Enter the branding nightmare known as "The International West." In April, the Garden Grove City Council unanimously voted on funding schemes for two major hotel projects to add to the half-baked-named tourist district. One three-hotel developer will be the beneficiary of a 50 to 60 percent sales-and-bed-tax-revenue giveaway totaling $17.6 million over a 20-year period. In the same meeting, the city also pledged to kick down $42 million of $51 million total in bonds upfront to another developer for the much-touted Great Wolf Lodge indoor-outdoor water-park resort and a parking structure for it. There's a fuss about it all, but it's still so quiet that a mayor in one city can pretend to be against subsidies in principle while profiting off them privately in Garden Grove!