Homes and tourists not a good fit

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Homes and tourists not a good fit

Post by Hanna » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:48 am

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Orange Grove: Homes and tourists not a good fit

Anaheim should not tamper with the resort area for sake of one developer
The architect is a former New York City planning commissioner and was the lead planner for the Anahiem resort area.

Vision is a terrible thing to waste; especially when it works. Unfortunately, Anaheim might be losing sight of its successful long-term vision for the area surrounding Disneyland.

A scheme by developer SunCal to add residential units within the Anaheim Resort area has urban planners like me, who helped create the original vision, wondering: What could the city be thinking? Why would Anaheim put the self-interests of a single developer above the best interests of all its citizens? Why would any city modify a general plan for a single project absent any drawings or details of what that project is to be or how it will fit into its environment?

A little more than a decade ago, Anaheim had the foresight to create a model for urban planning and revitalization. Over a period of years, city leaders brought together federal and state authorities, along with large and small businesses to define a long-term plan. Anaheim secured improvements to transportation, landscaping, lighting and signage for an area that provided assurance to all property owners – now and in the future – that the deterioration associated with haphazard planning would never be allowed again.

A world-class destination resort resulted from these earlier decisions; a powerful economic engine for those who live, work and play in Anaheim. (The Anaheim Resort area generates half of the city's annual revenue, which funds vital city services: police, fire, schools, etc.) As a result, the city of Anaheim is in the enviable position of having two things that most cities covet: a consistent revenue stream and a sound plan to grow it. Sensible future growth, however, will happen only if Anaheim realizes its vital role as a steward of the original vision.

Anaheim's Planning Commission Chairwoman Gail Eastman summed this up perfectly at a recent hearing on this topic when she said, "The hardest thing to do is create a vision. The second hardest thing to do is stick with it."

Piecemeal residential development within this tourist-serving area was clearly deemed an incompatible use within the Anaheim Resort area. There is a reason for the term "incompatible use" in responsible urban planning. Certain uses in certain places don't belong together. No matter how good an idea or how well designed, some things will not peacefully co-exist. Anaheim understood this when they approved their vision for this important tourism area in 1994. Their sound reasoning is still valid today.

Even more dangerous now is SunCal's disregard for the Anaheim Resort area and the precedent their scheme will set for every other property in the district. Once the common interests are sacrificed for one developer's self-interests they can not be undone. If the city indulges the self-interests of this developer, they will send a message to all developers that that the original plan for the Anaheim Resort area is null and void. No more smart planning. No more cohesive vision. No more foresight.

As it considers its next move, Anaheim must remember that a secure revenue stream is worth protecting, that good planning cannot be done parcel by parcel, project by project. Smart planning has always been about long-term vision and the vigilance to stick with what works.

Yes, affordable housing is an important issue. But what is being considered now is not about affordable housing. It is about the sound urban planning that created the resort area. This area comprises only 2.2 square miles – less than 5 percent of the city. That means there is other land available for affordable housing options in places more suitable to call "home." It is therefore time to apply that same funding vision and vigilance to the issue of affordable housing as went into making the resort area work.

In summary, Anaheim's plan remains a model in smart planning for long-term growth. The city and its residents have benefited from that success.

This is not the time to risk such a valuable achievement. ... 577471.php

(wonder what he thought about mixing airport and homes..)

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