The Anaheim Streetcar Project Is Officially Dead

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait on Tuesday evening finally got to do what he’s been wanted to do for years: kill the Anaheim Streetcar once and for all.

The Anaheim City Council passed a resolution opposing not only any plans to revive a controversial $300 million streetcar project between the city’s transit hub and the city’s resort district, but plans for any kind of streetcar down Harbor Boulevard.

Although the Orange County Transportation Authority stopped funding the project in June, the agency is currently conducting a study of transit options for Harbor Boulevard, which doesn’t rule out the option of a streetcar.

But the 6-1 council vote, with Councilwoman Kris Murray as the lone dissenter, sends a message to the Transportation Authority that another streetcar proposal will likely be dead on arrival.

“Anaheim does not want a streetcar going up and down Katella or Harbor. Those lanes are some of the most valuable real estate the city owns,” Tait said.

Tait has been the leading voice of opposition against the proposed 3.2 mile light rail project since its inception. But it took the November election, from which he emerged as the leader of a new council majority, for him to finally get his wish.

The previous council majority, led by Murray, sought to keep the project alive through an environmental review study, even after it was turned down for federal funding and the Transportation Authority made its decision.

Murray and other supporters of the project argue the streetcar would be a vital connection between the city’s new transit hub, known as ARTIC, and key destinations like Disneyland and the Anaheim Resort district.

They also point to OCTA’s progress on the OC Streetcar, a separate light rail project which would start in Santa Ana and terminate on Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove, and envision a potential linking of the two systems to create a regional transportation option.

Tait meanwhile has criticized the project – one of the most expensive streetcar projects in the country at $100 million per mile — as a boondoggle that would benefit Disneyland and resort businesses at the expense of taxpayers.

He cites low ridership to ARTIC and the existing network of buses run by the Transportation Authority and the Anaheim Transportation Network as among the reasons why the project is unnecessary.

Tait’s vision is for the Transportation Authority to pour money into improving service on the existing bus system that serves many of the county’s working poor.

The resolution drafted by Councilwoman Denise Barnes memorializes many of those points, and recommends the Transportation Authority pursue a “flexible transit solution that increases frequency of bus routes and provides this solution for a lower fare.”

Although Murray and Councilwoman Lucille Kring opposed a vote in December to agendize the resolution, neither spoke up at the meeting Tuesday evening.

Councilman Stephen Faessel said he would not back down on his belief that the city eventually needs to find a better way to move people around the Anaheim Resort.

“We have to come up with a very efficient, comprehensive method to move more than 20,000 visitors in the Resort District,” said Faessel. “I believe that answer is still out there…and it very well may be enhanced bus services.”

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

  • Stephen Masek

    They next need to demolish ARTIC and stop the economic bleeding caused by it.

    • Cynthia Ward

      Actually, ARTIC is the perfect homeless shelter for this winter. It is RIGHT next to the riverbed where people are in danger of being washed downstream by the rains. It is climate controlled, offers restrooms (no showers, but portable shower trailers can be brought in) and best of all, NOBODY is going to complain, because nobody uses the place. Even the restaurant the signed leases aren’t opening. The ART busses report less than a dozen patrons per hour coming from ARTIC to the Resort, justifying not only the wisdom of dumping the ARC streetcar, but also justifying using the otherwise unused ARTIC as an emergency shelter. No residential property right there to complain…and the City already owns it.

  • RyanCantor

    Finally. Sanity and math prevail.

  • Paul Lucas

    Good.

  • David Resendez

    ARCTIC was a complete boondoggle and it’s empty. No matter with the trade unions say, this was a bad deal. I hope Mayor Pulido kills the SA street car sham -the train to nowhere.

  • Cynthia Ward

    After watching this boondoggle since 2009, there are few happier in Anaheim today than my own blackened heart. The project was a “solution” looking for a problem, as there ARE no riders at ARTIC waiting for a ride into the Resort, and the ATN currently serving that route confirms it. That was the reason for the Measure M Go Local funding that drove this nightmare. The biggest traffic clog is on Harbor Blvd where the ART busses run patrons from the Toy Story parking lot to the Disney parks, and THAT will come to a close when the new East Parking Structure kicks in, pulling cars in directly off 5 freeway. Without cars clogging the surface streets shifting between parking lots in search of the one Disney has open that hour of that day, our traffic should drop significantly. But the Go Local funds were a ruse to get taxpayers to fund INFRASTRUCTURE for the project, like the pedestrian bridge disney is now funding, one they KNEW they have been obligated to since the 1990s Specific Plans put it in there, and one they tried to push onto the private property of the Scalzo-Durand family until Voice of OC was able to alert the hoteliers to the plans for their property. So this is a satisfying day.

    With all due respect to Mr. Faessel, it is NOT the responsibility of the taxpayers to find a solution to mitigate the impacts of private and profitable businesses, who are obligated to design and fund their own mitigation measures. as agreed to in the Specific Plan docs and EIR 313. Disney has some of the most brilliant transportation minds on earth working for them, let Disney cook up an inventive solution for getting their own patrons (and their credit cards) from point of entry to Anaheim to their own cash registers. THAT IS NOT A FUNCTION OF PUBLIC FUNDS, whether it is Anaheim taxpayers with General Fund (or a JPA bond to claim a “lease payment” to a bond fund) or County sales tax going to Measure M or Federal gas taxes. WHY would he think that is on our shoulders? Sorry, try again.