It’s a bad day for the gadflies at CATER: today the City on Anaheim prevailed in court over the CATER lawsuit against the Anaheim Convention Center expansion.
Thanks to Cynthia Ward and her house legal genius Greg Diamond, CATER did succeed in torpedoing the initial expansion financing package and costing Anaheim taxpayers at least $35 million in increased project costs and lost community benefits like additional fire stations. How is that for “economic responsibility”?
UPDATE: here’s the press release from the city:
ORANGE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT RULES IN ANAHEIM’S FAVOR
Approves City of Anaheim’s bond financing for the Anaheim Convention Center
ANAHEIM, Calif. (September 26, 2014) Today, the Orange County Superior Court gave a resounding victory to the City of Anaheim by validating the City’s approved financing of the much-needed expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center. The Court concluded that the Anaheim Public Financing Authority properly acted in approving issuance of up to $300 Million in bonds for this project, which benefits the City, the region and the community.
On May 12, 2014, local organization CATER (Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility) submitted its lawsuit in opposition to the City’s financing mechanism for the Convention Center expansion project. The lawsuit caused the cancellation of the bond sale, delayed the project, and caused the City to be liable for increased construction fees as well as legal expenses. The City now intends to proceed with the financing.
“I am thankful that the Court recognized the need to expeditiously review this matter and confirmed what the City and most people knew all along: That this case, brought by outside special interests and a handful of community members, was entirely frivolous and of great harm to the City’s economic prosperity. This meritless action by CATER and the Inland Oversight Committee unfortunately has cost the City tens of millions of dollars in increased construction and financing costs,” said City Attorney Michael R.W. Houston.
The bond approval is intended to support the Anaheim Convention Center expansion, refund debt at a lower interest rate and finance other community improvements.
Since opening in 1967, revenues generated by the Anaheim Convention Center and related activities have consistently supported overall City services, thereby improving the quality of life for Anaheim’s residents.
The proposed Anaheim Convention Center expansion project encompasses the addition of 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting space for hosting concurrent events, capturing new meeting groups and retaining the large annual events, plus the replacement of Car Park 1. The current Anaheim Convention Center has limited meeting space opportunities and limits the ability to accommodate concurrent events.
It is conservatively estimated that the City’s General Fund would be better off by $115 million over the next decade and $320 million over a 30-year period by expanding, as determined by an outside consultant (Crossroads Consulting Services).
Each year the City generates millions of dollars due to the large annual events booked at the Anaheim Convention Center. Attendance over the past five years averages nearly 1.1 million guests at Convention Center events alone. This translates to hotel room stays, dining, shopping and entertainment for those guests, many of whom use the opportunity to plan a family vacation or extend their stay to enjoy Anaheim and Orange County’s many amenities.
In 2010, the City Council, by Resolution, established the Anaheim Tourism Improvement District (ATID) for the promotion of local tourism and convention-related programs. Hoteliers in the Anaheim Resort agreed to self-assess 2% of hotel room rent within the ATID boundaries for projects in the Anaheim Resort. The creation of the ATID relieved the City’s General Fund of $6 million annually, beginning in 2010, and freed-up these dollars to pay for this Anaheim Convention Center expansion project. Assuming TOT revenues would grow at a conservative estimate of 3%, it is estimated that the value of the ATID would be approximately $450 million, and is greater than estimated lease payments on the bond issuance.
To ensure that the incremental new revenues would be available for General Fund programs, the City Council approved a financing plan that keeps the General Fund’s annual lease payment obligations for capital improvements where they are today.
For more on the Anaheim Convention Center expansion and to read the Staff Report, please click here, and forward to item 27.