Anaheim City Council Approves Ordinance Despite Residents’ Pleas

Anaheim residents expressed their discontent at last week’s City Council meeting.

Last Tuesday, Anaheim public television aired a program that was over 6 hours long and as dramatic in the Days of Our Lives sense as in the professional wrestling sense. It was like one of those dystopian movies that starts off intriguing, gets really frustrating, and eventually ends up getting so dark that it puts you in a funk for the next few days. No, it wasn’t Requiem for a Dream. Nor was it 1984 (though it did bear some resemblance). If you haven’t guessed it yet, the spectacle in question was none other than an Anaheim City Council meeting: where the day-to-day lives of citizens are subject to the political beliefs, personal vendettas, and private interests of seven city officials. This meeting in particular proved that members of the community who appear en masse to voice their concerns may quite literally be ignored.

In attendance were members of a senior mobile home park who’ve been faced with an unexpected rent increase and residents of a neighborhood who are fighting against a high-density, high-income housing development that would further congest their already overcrowded streets. Public speakers from both of these groups passionately called for direct communication from council members. Members of the latter community held signs that read “Please Come Meet Us” and “Residents First” in response to Councilwoman Lucille Kring questioning the legitimacy of signatures on the petition they presented at last week’s public hearing about the development.

At that same public hearing, representatives from this neighborhood were ordered by Mayor Harry Sidhu to cut their 10 minute presentation down to 2 minutes while the developer was given a virtually unlimited amount of time to push their case. As a result, the council voted to approve the development and this week’s meeting was the final opportunity for the community to dispute that decision.

One speaker from the public voiced his discontent with that hearing. “This council majority seems to think that any developer has a God-given right to whatever modifications he might want for whatever fool[ish] project he dreams up,” he said. “This council majority seems to think of the regulations and zonings that exist to protect the quality of life of your voters and residents as just some inconvenience that can be shoved aside when some friend of yours sees a chance for profit.” Throughout the night, these feelings of despondency were ever-present. Some speakers admitted that they hadn’t even prepared a speech because they expected their allotted time to be cut short once again.

However, community members remained resilient and proposed that the council postpone their final decision until they’ve had a chance to visit the neighborhood and speak to some of the residents themselves. “The ordinance is up again to be voted [on] a second time today. We’re not here to dispute. All we ask is that you listen to us,” explained Angelica Mejia, who lives in the neighborhood. “We’re not opposing housing in our neighborhood, we just want affordable housing. The developer said that he’s not here for affordable housing. We need housing in Anaheim, but we need affordable housing. Please meet with us,” she implored.

Many other heartfelt requests to postpone the vote followed, including some from council members Jose Moreno and Denise Barnes. “If we’re gonna vote for something that isn’t in our community, the least we can do is go out, take ten minutes, [and] knock on doors,” said Barnes to her colleagues. “That’s the least we can do. So can we please postpone this? Have a heart. Show your commitment, on the council, that we are for our residents.”

But alas, no such empathy was to be found as the ordinance was passed with a 4-2 vote. Although the rest of the council was clearly ready to move along to the next issue on the agenda, Moreno took a moment to express his disappointment. “I’m sorry colleagues, I’m just appalled. Residents simply asked for a pause button,” he said. “This was an opportunity to say, ‘We can at least give you the benefit of the doubt,’ instead of just allowing folks to believe that your vote somehow isn’t taking [the residents] into account.”

This was met with the same stoicism that the council majority maintained throughout the entirety of the meeting. Councilman Trevor O’Neil, who seems like he probably spent most of his time at college playing beer pong in an upside-down visor and a puka shell necklace before haphazardly declaring himself an expert on Laissez-Faire economics,  simply responded that “This particular project has gone through the process. There have been many steps along the way. We just happen to be at the last one.”

Be that as it may, as Angelica Mejia pointed out, “The developer had 15 months to speak to you guys and plan this. We had very little notice.” Furthermore, the “process” that Barnes is referring to did not take into account the lives of the citizens who will be affected by this ordinance. The citizens of Anaheim have asked for government-imposed rent control. They’ve asked to have a say in the rezoning of their own neighborhoods. They’ve argued that a lack of affordable housing and unexpected raises in rent are two of the main contributors to Orange County’s ongoing homeless crisis.

“You’re putting our senior citizens in the street! You’re putting hardworking people in the street!” exclaimed Anaheim resident, Kenneth Batiste.  “People, we need to get this straight: we need rent control. We need to put it on the ballot. If we keep going like this, our homeless [population] will double, triple, and quadruple. We need to do better.” 

9 Replies to “Anaheim City Council Approves Ordinance Despite Residents’ Pleas”

  1. This is all Tom Taits fault. He refused to endorse a candidate for mayor in the last election, thus allowing the unamerican mayor from India being elected. The council did the same thing as Tait nothing.

  2. No one cares about anything or anyone except the almighty buck!! Anaheim Mayor and Councilman spoke to us at Rancho La Paz Mobile Home Park and said they would help us. I hope this development doesn’t change things or we seniors will be homeless.

  3. This is not right and unfair but people should remember that God is the one that gives a person the power over other groups of people based on his best interest In God we trust so dont think you will get very far or get away with any of thease unreasonable actions or decisions if your choices are in the best interests of people then quit assuming everyone is ignorant and wont listen take the time to explain and be humble.

  4. Has it ever been different in Orange county? Don’t get between a politician mother bear and her money Cubs cause they will attack. Can these politicians be traquilized and released in another area where they can do less damage?

  5. I’m anti rent control, because it usually prohibits progress and improvements in the community. But these council people are annoying piles of poop. They are willing to spend tax payer dollars to house drug addicts for free, but unwilling to delay the rezoning for working or retired citizens. Gawd being middle class is pointless

  6. Well, Good News for the Mobile Home owners…

    >>Rancho La Paz owner rescinds rent increases, works with residents to find path forward<>Is the city planning to regulate rents at the park?

    Housing affordability is a regular point of discussion in Anaheim.

    Intervening in people’s property and agreements between landlords and tenants is a big step for any government to take.

    Where we can, we opt to bring people together to see if they can find a workable resolution short of government intervention, which can end up impacting many property owners and bring unintended consequences.<<

    Interesting to note that the Anaheim portion of the park is in District 3.

    So the Council Majority feels the proper way to approach this is to sit down and see if something can be worked out without government interference, while the Councilmember whose district the mobile park resides, Dr. Jose Moreno, feels the need to use government control to just not allow the rent increase.

    At the meeting, the owner disclosed that the main reason for the rent increase was the major hike in property taxes, to the tune of around $700,000 a year, which calculates to about $150 per month for each of the 400 spaces. If the rent moratorium took place, the owner, who purchased a property from an owner who basically took the approach of not running the property as a business, but as something the family had and opted to have the property not to make a profit, for unknown reasons. will lose money.

    When the previous owner decided to get rid off the property, the Proposition 13 rules kicked in. The Prop 13 rules that helped keep the rents low due to the fact that the tax increases were kept at 2% a year.

    And if Split Roll property taxes are approved in 2020, and businesses have to pay market rates in 2021, how will other Mobile Home Parks be affected. Or the small business that pays rent. The owner of that building will have to increase rents to cover the additional government costs.

    I am very pleased that the Mayor, along with Councilmembers O'Neil and Faessel helped facilitate a meeting where things got discussed from both sides, and that a workable solution can be found without mandates or other government interference.

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