John Machiaverna has lived and volunteered in Anaheim since he was a child -- and now he says, it’s time for him to run for mayor.
“I’ve lived in the flatlands my whole life. There’s nobody that knows the neighborhoods like I do,” said Machiaverna, who now lives in the city’s fourth district, a south-central portion of the city home to Disneyland and the Anaheim Resort.
Machiaverna, 59, moved to Anaheim when he was four and attended local schools. In addition to owning a jewelry shop in Anaheim, he is the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim. He served on the city’s Community Services Board for ten years and on the Public Utilities Board for eight years.
He is one of four candidates who want to be Anaheim’s next mayor. Other candidates include former councilman Harry Sidhu, attorney Ashleigh Aitken, and former district four council candidate and emergency medical services professional Robert Williams.
Machiaverna is a registered Republican, but describes himself as a centrist.
Machiaverna says homelessness would be his top campaign issue.
He knows the issue in part through the Boys and Girls Club, which each morning picks up homeless children living in motels and shelters, and takes them to school.
“The need is really great,” Machiaverna said. “Sometimes the parents have mental issues, addiction issues, some just have bad luck and aren’t able to find a job to get them into a traditional housing situation.”
He said the Boys and Girls Club often acts as a family resource center, with services like food distribution, a wellness clinic and counseling for needy families.
“We’ve become a heavily tourist-driven economy, which unfortunately does not account for higher paying jobs,” Machiaverna said. “It’s all service industry jobs, which has really hurt our neighborhoods, our abilities for our families to earn an income, to live in one of the most expensive places in the country.”
Machiaverna says he supports Councilwoman Kris Murray’s recent initiative – dubbed “Operation Home SAFE,” which calls on the city to increase services to the homeless before eventually clearing out a large encampment at the Santa Ana River bed.
He is against repealing the city’s anti-camping ordinance, which allows police to cite people for prolonged camping in public spaces, and, he said, preserves the original use of the parks for the public.
“You cannot have the bathrooms open 24 hours a day,” Machiaverna added, responding to a request by some activists to leave city park bathrooms open overnight so that homeless people can have access to them.
Machiaverna said the public bathroom at Manzanita Park, which is shared with the Boys and Girls Club, has at times attracted illicit drug users. Boys and Girls Club staff now monitor the bathrooms to make sure they are empty before children are allowed to use it, he said.
Homeless people should have access to some facilities, but those facilities need to be monitored, he said.
“You cannot just put bathrooms out there unless there’s somebody that’s going to make sure they are cleaned a couple times a day,” he said.
Machiaverna proposes targeting community problems by allocating money generated by the Anaheim Resort District from the general fund to each council district for neighborhood improvements. He said part of the problem is federal community development block grant money, which is allocated by the city to various groups and nonprofits, has “really evaporated over the last decade.”
The Resort is an economic district consisting of Disneyland, the Anaheim Convention Center and surrounding hotels and entertainment venues.
“I envision that we need to take a percentage of the profits from the [Anaheim] Resort to backfill the money lost from CDBG money,” Machiaverna said.
Machiaverna said he understands the frustrations of those who argue that the Anaheim Resort district has benefited disproportionately from city subsidies and support to the detriment of development in neighborhoods. But he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to that belief.
“We would be Stanton without the Resort District – you wouldn’t have the convention center, you may not have the Angels or the Honda Center,” he said. “So we have a lot of gratitude.”
“Have they been shown unfair favoritism? I’m not sure,” Machiaverna said.
In the last election, several current council members ran against city subsidies for developers of luxury hotels.
Machiaverna didn’t give a straight answer on whether the luxury hotel subsidies were a good or bad idea, but said after the dissolution of redevelopment agencies by the state, “government has to do public private partnerships, but it has to be beneficial for both sides.”
“I think they could have been structured differently. My platform is to look forward,” he said. “You cannot keep complaining and worrying about the decisions that were made behind you.”
He also wants to see more development in West Anaheim.
“The west end has been crying for some kind of revenue stream. You have to have revenue other than the Resort,” Machiaverna said.
Machiaverna also named “instability in city hall” as one of his top campaign issues, noting that the city currently has both an interim city manager and interim city attorney.
While the city is conducting a search for a permanent city attorney, the city council has not made any decisions since accepting the resignation of the last city manager, Paul Emery, and appointing City Clerk Linda Andal to the interim position.
“We’ve gone through quite a few of them in the last six or seven, eight years,” Machiaverna said. “The policy makers of the city, it’s their job to make sure the people who work for you are the right people….[and] to make sure those people feel secure and safe in their jobs.”
“Right now the people working at city hall are not happy. We’ve lost a lot of good employees and I know some others are looking,” he added.
Contact Thy Vo at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.