An op-ed by Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray, exclusively for AnaheimBlog:
Anaheim Investment Races Westward
By Kris Murray, Council Member, City of Anaheim
When we focus on economic development in Anaheim, we have a proud tradition of becoming like a pit crew at a race track. Our goal is to build and maintain an economic engine for success, and our residents and neighborhoods win when quality jobs, city revenue and the services it funds, and dynamic retail and commercial centers cross the finish line. This formula has proven successful for decades since city leaders first invested in Angel Stadium, Anaheim Convention Center, Honda Center, Anaheim Resort and most recently, the downtown Packing House district.
At the last city council meeting on March 22nd, I proposed a new Economic Development Zone for West Anaheim. My plan calls for an incentive program aimed at attracting new retail and restaurants, as well as commercial developments, to generate quality jobs in West Anaheim. Specifically, I called for the hiring of an economic development consultant to study successful, local incentive programs that would complement the history, geography and demographics of West Anaheim, with the goal of delivering and adopting a program tailored for West Anaheim by July 12, 2016.
As one of the oldest areas of the city and home to more than a third of the city’s population, West Anaheim is challenged by an abundance of aging, underutilized commercial centers and residential motels. The presence of motels and vacant properties contributes to the area’s high crime rate. West Anaheim has struggled for years to attract quality retail and commercial investors, especially in the wake of the elimination of redevelopment. Residents from West Anaheim regularly attend city council meetings, voicing their concerns over the community’s quality of life and pleading for new shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
Essentially, the spotlight has not been on West Anaheim, and it is time for the city to commit its resources to incentivize quality economic development, similar to our city’s success with the Packing House district. West Anaheim residents deserve action.
In addition to this proposed economic development program, the city is taking other substantive steps to improve the quality of life for West Anaheim residents. The city is currently developing a Beach Boulevard Specific Plan to guide future public and private investment in support of the identified community goals. This process involves significant community involvement from residents and business leaders who formed a Community Advisory Committee. With the successful implementation of the city’s Quality Rental Housing program, a program that I championed, more than 20,000 rental units in West Anaheim have been upgraded and improved over the past year. In addition to applying stringent quality rental housing standards to improve living conditions, the city is looking at ways to replace or repurpose many of the substandard motels in West Anaheim and to aggressively enforce health and safety codes for those that will remain in business.
There are significant challenges facing West Anaheim, and they won’t be solved overnight. That being said, I’m confident that by working together with residents, businesses and community leaders and creating an environment for private investment to return to West Anaheim, we can build an engine of success from which all residents in West Anaheim will benefit.