Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu smiles as wrecking crews demolish the dilapidated Americana Motel on Beach Boulevard.

Beach Boulevard’s journey has been long and varied: from the epitome of booming post-war Orange County, dotted with Googie architecture motor lodges, before entering a long-slide into seediness and decay.

If rhetoric alone could deliver economic development and urban renewal, Beach Boulevard would have been cleaned up long ago. West Anaheim residents have heard years of promises by city officials to clean up Highway 39. However, in recent years, rhetoric has begun turning into reality, and civic leadership has sparked actual progress in re-making the iconic thoroughfare: for example, the approval and ongoing construction of the 39 Commons project, the demolition of the decrepit Americana Hotel.

Buena Park and Stanton have already made significant strides in revitalizing the stretches of Beach Boulevard within their jurisdictions. Anaheim is moving aggressively to similarly revitalize the 1.5 mile stretch under its control.

West Anaheim residents have long implored and lobbied City Hall to improve blight in the area and attract higher-end commercial uses and retail/entertainment amenities.

Tomorrow, the Anaheim City Council will have a public workshop on the “Rebuild Beach” initiative, looking back at the history and deterioration of Beach Boulevard, which went from being the tourism-driven  “Road to Summer” in the post-war era to a haven for transiency, drugs, vice and crime.

Staff will present “Rebuild Beach” revitalization strategy that will likely include:

  • Heightened law enforcement presence
  • Robust, proactive code enforcement mounted in collaboration with residents and businesses owners
  • Beautification efforts such as utility undergrounding and new anti-graffiti technology.
  • Abatement of nuisance businesses and blight reduction
  • Innovative and forward-looking planning to lure a more attractive mix of retail, entertainment, business and residential developments
  • The strategic acquisition of properties to increase housing options and revitalize the corridor.

The now demolished-Americana Hotel in better days.

Councilman Jose Diaz, who represents the westernmost part of Anaheim, lives in a neighborhood very close to Beach Boulevard and is a strong proponent of aggressive measures to redevelop the historic corridor. Diaz recently told the OC Register the city is going “to the hotels owners to fix the property and look for a different type of clientele or for them to sell and the city will buy it, then we sell it to a developer to build housing or any type of commerce that is in demand now.”

Anaheim has also emulated a strategy employed by Buena Park and taken over control of Beach Boulevard from Caltrans (in exchange for $4.8 million), giving the city the ability to pursue revitalization strategies with greater speed and flexibility. Beach Boulevard is technically a highway, and the city needs to permission from Caltrans to make improvements and changes to the boulevard. Going forward, Anaheim will only need to secure such permits from itself.

The Anaheim City Council workshop begins tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. and can be viewed live on video.