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The Anaheim City Council Tuesday night cast a final vote to rezone seven acres of parkland to industrial so the property can be sold to a developer, a move critics say could leave thousands of residents without adequate open space.
The land is between Anaheim Blvd and S. Lewis St., which is also close to the Platinum Triangle development, a high-density mixed-use zone where some 27,000 residents are expected to live when it is built out. City officials purchased the land approximately a decade ago for $2.9 million, and they expect to get three times that amount by selling it.
City council members in May approved issuing a request for proposals to purchase the site.
City officials say the land, which is undeveloped, is not suitable for a park because of its proximity to the 5 Freeway, citing environmental agencies’ advice against building parks near freeways. They also said it’s awkwardly shaped and provides residents with limited access.
They decided to sell the property even though Anaheim and much of north Orange County is “park poor,” with little or no open space for its residents.
Officials say they will look for other property that is more ideal for a park. But that commitment wasn’t enough to secure a unanimous vote from council members. The vote to approve the rezone was 3-2, with Mayor Tom Tait and Councilman James Vanderbilt voting no. Council members Jordan Brandman, Kris Murray and Lucille Kring voted for the rezone.
“It’s a big, big mistake with consequences for a generation. And for that reason I’m voting no,” Tait said. “It’s owned by the people. Once it’s gone, its’ gone forever.”
Tait pointed out there are several parks in the city near freeways, including Miraloma Park, which just opened, and that, while the site might not be ideal, Anaheim is urban and fully built out.
Community Services Director Terry Lowe said the air quality advisement applied to parks with sports fields, not parks without them like Miraloma.
Councilwoman Kris Murray said she was comfortable rezoning the land with a commitment from Lowe that the city would strive to make finding a replacement site “a reality” and not some “pie in the sky” proposal.
Lowe said he and city officials would do their “absolute very best” to find a park site near the Platinum Triangle. However, he said the city isn’t currently in negotiations with any potential sellers.