Anaheim Council Approves Plans for Long-Awaited Makeover of City’s West Side

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The Anaheim City Council this week approved a slate of actions for commercial and residential developments along Beach Boulevard that would give a boost to the city’s long-neglected west side.

For decades, while Disneyland and the resort district have received the vast majority of attention and money from policymakers and developers, west Anaheim residents have pushed for more recreation and development on their side of town, which now largely consists of single-family homes and small strip malls.

A rendering of the proposed Westgate development.

A rendering of the proposed Westgate development.

Council members Tuesday night unanimously approved the $16.1 million sale of a 25-acre former county landfill to the Los Angeles-based Zelman Development Company for development into a “Main Street-style” outdoor shopping center with dining, shops, decorative fountains and public art.

They also approved the purchase of a 3.6-acre property by the city’s Housing Authority as part of plans to push out motels along the Beach Boulevard corridor and encourage mixed use developments with some affordable housing.

“It’s our turn and we’re really happy – we’ve been fighting for a long, long time,” Jodie Mosley, a west Anaheim resident, said to city council members Tuesday. “This is the closest we have come to seeing anything actually come about.”

The intersection of Beach Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue, dubbed “Stinkin’ Lincoln” because of the odor that once wafted from the old landfill, once served tourists who couldn’t afford the higher-priced accommodations closer to Disneyland.

The 3.6 acre property is adjacent to another owned by the Housing Authority. The Zelman development will be built on the northeast corner of Beach and Lincoln.

The 3.6 acre property is adjacent to another owned by the Housing Authority. The Zelman development will be built on the northeast corner of Beach and Lincoln.

But in recent decades, the motels have become hotspots for illicit activity and draw a disproportionate amount of police and code enforcement calls, according to a city staff report. They also provide makeshift month-to-month housing for poor and homeless families who can’t pay a security deposit or pass a credit check required for most permanent housing.

Esther Wallace, a Magnolia School Board Trustee and chair of the West Anaheim Neighborhood Development Council, moved to west Anaheim in 1960, when the city had a population of 63,000. Since then, she said, blight has driven away business development.

“We don’t have a lot of problems, except with the stuff like the prostitution [and] the crime…which has really destroyed west Anaheim as far as getting businesses,” said Wallace.

City officials have had plans to rebuild commercial zones in West Anaheim since 1998, but they’ve made little progress.

Those efforts were further delayed beginning in 2012 when Governor Jerry Brown abolished redevelopment agencies, which had been the main funding source for efforts to reinvigorate blighted areas.

City officials are now close to completing a draft of a Beach Boulevard Specific Plan, a general blueprint for revitalization efforts along the corridor that would also offer incentives like fee waivers, flexible development standards and commercial rehabilitation loans to entice developers to invest in West Anaheim properties.

They hope to fund those incentives by asking other public agencies to voluntarily forgo the tax revenue they would receive from several former redevelopment agency properties.

Councilwoman Kris Murray said west Anaheim residents have wanted to “see the same kind of success for west Anaheim as we’ve seen with our public-private partnerships in other parts of the city.”

“[Beach] really is a gateway to our city on the west end,” Murray said.

Mayor Tom Tait echoed Murray’s remarks, saying: “This is a big day for all of Anaheim, particularly for West Anaheim.”

Makeover Plans for Two Properties

At Tuesday’s meeting, council members voted on plans for two major properties at the intersection of Beach and Lincoln Avenue.

Officials hope to convert the 3.6-acre property they purchased with $13 million in Housing Authority funds, which is currently home to the Americana Motel, a car wash and gas station, into a mixed-use development with affordable housing for middle-income working professionals.

Currently, half of the 18 motels along Beach are used primarily for month-to-month housing, while the 44-room Americana Motel is mostly used by sober living residents, according to city Spokesman Mike Lyster,

“We have about 875 motel rooms along Beach and through our studies we’ve found there’s only demand [from travelers] for about half of that,” Lyster said.

Asked whether the city would build more affordable housing along Beach Boulevard, to make up for new demand from displaced motel residents, Lyster said that because the properties are paid for by Housing Authority dollars, any development would be required to include affordable housing. Current zoning would allow for up to 200 units on the 3.6-acre property, he said.

Meanwhile, across the street, the Westgate Shopping Center proposed by Zelman will finally go forward after more than 15 years of delays from lawsuits and the lengthy, expensive process of cleaning up the site of environmental hazards.

The city has spent more than $25 million acquiring and rehabilitating the property since 2001. Zelman will pay $16 million for the property, about $640,000 per acre, according to a staff report.

City officials say the price of the property is somewhat discounted, given that the developer will need to build a costly foundation because of the unstable soil caused by the property’s previous use as a landfill.

Officials say construction on the $75 million project could begin in the next 18 months, creating up to 875 construction jobs and 900 permanent jobs after the center is slated to open in 2019.

At least one Anaheim resident was opposed to the Westgate Shopping Center at Tuesday’s public hearing.

“This property should not be sold to a developer, it should be used as a park for the people of Anaheim,” said William Fitzgerald.

Economic development director John Woodhead said the city is prohibited from using the 25-acre property as a park, because of restrictions on what can be built atop the former landfill.

Tait, meanwhile, praised Zelman’s plans for the Westgate Shopping Center.

“I think it creates energy and a sense of place…which I think is needed on Beach,” said Tait. “It creates energy and excitement rather than just seeing parking and a perimeter of big boxes.”

Contact Thy Vo at or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • Paul Lucas

    Great now that the charter gaffe says they have to reverse all the corporate give aways they can pay for this.

  • Bob Brock

    Wait, the city paid $25 million to buy and rehab the property and the developer paid the city $16 million for it? Where are all of the outraged commenters we see on every other Anaheim story? How is this not a taxpayer giveaway?

    • David Zenger

      It’s public-private partnership, Bob. “P3” is the new lingo. It’s the Smash N’ Grab Club® mantra.

      Resistance is futile.

      • Bob Brock

        So… Tait is evil too for voting for this?

        • David Zenger

          “Evil” isn’t really the right word is it?

          For all I know Tait cast his vote for the right reason: placing a government-owned property back on the tax rolls. I have no idea how Anaheim came to assume responsibility for remediation of the site or why they acquired it in the first place, but as to the disposition, that remediation cost is lost forever and can’t be recouped. That could well account for most of the apparent $9MM shortfall.

          Brandman, Murray and Kring have made their motivations patently obvious over the past few years – all their energies are dedicated to enriching the very same corporations, unions, and rich folks that elected them or who paid down their loans to themselves (Kring). They don’t get the benefit of my doubt.

          However, your point is taken: Anaheim being Anaheim, we all have a right to be skeptical and hold everybody on the City Council accountable. There are several statements by city “staff” in this article that seem to demand further explanation.

          • Shirley L. Grindle

            According to campaign records on file, Lucille Kring has NOT managed to get her loans paid down. In fact, as of June 30 this year she has 5 committees still open with a grand total of $83,522 In loans she has made to these committees. She has kept them open hoping to get her money back, but so far no luck.

          • David Zenger

            It hasn’t been for lack of trying!

            So Lucille still has lots of reasons to keep plying her trade on Beach Boulevard.

  • astar2b

    Kris Murray saves the day again…!

    • David Zenger


  • David Zenger

    Councilwoman Kris Murray said west Anaheim residents have wanted to “see the same kind of success for west Anaheim as we’ve seen with our public-private partnerships in other parts of the city.”

    Yeah, Kris, except that those “public-private partnerships” all involved immense giveaways, subsidies and regrettable tax kickbacks to wealthy corporations – crony capitalism a la the PringleCorp® business model. Hardly an exemplary standard – unless you’re getting political advancement out of it, I suppose.

  • dvdbrtsh

    Ms. Vo,

    I commend you for finding the one sentence belched out by William Fitzgerald during a public hearing or council meeting that was not incoherent, vile or a falsehood.

    However, I do wish you would have found a quote from a sane Anaheim resident to use as an example of an opposing viewpoint.