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Anaheim Tax Givaway Opponents Demand Reconsideration of $158 million ‘Gift’

ANAHEIM, CA — Opponents of the $158 million Bed Tax giveaway to Garden Walk hotel developers notified Anaheim officials that the January 24th city council action violated the Ralph M. Brown Act. The February 21st letter, from the Briggs Law Firm on behalf of Amin David, Martin Lopez, Jose Moreno, Lorena Moreno, and Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, demanded the city cure the violation withing 30 days.

A demand for cure letter is the first step required in order for the opponents to sue the city over the action. The letter cites two violations of the ct. First the failure to properly provide notice of the action to give away the funding is challenged. Opponents claim that “the agenda did not adequately inform the public that the City Council might give final approval to two separate agreements providing economic assistance to a hotel developer. Moreover, unlike the items listed in the “consent calendar” and “public hearings” portions of the agenda, this particular agenda item did not call for the City Council to “accept” or “approve” or take other definitive final action; the item called for “discussion to consider . . . and provide direction to staff. . . .” In this regard, even members of the City Council and the City Attorney did not understand, when the motion was originally made, that the matter would not be coming back to the City Council for approval in the future; it was revealed, just seconds before the final vote and long after the motion was originally made, that the matter required final City Council approval so that it could be concluded by the developer prior to January 31, 2012. The agenda description did not apprise the public that the City Council would be giving final approval to two contracts the City Council would never again have a chance to consider, the public would never have a chance to critique, and the text of which was not even available for review at the time of the vote. The inadequacy of the agenda’s description for Item 23 violated the Brown Act.”

The second violation cited in the letter is that “the two economic-assistance agreements that were executed as a result of the City Council’s decision on Item 23 assume that the City had the legal authority to enter into such agreements. To the extent that the City Council’s decision on Item 23 is construed as giving the City the authority to deviate from the policy requirements approved in 2008, the potential for the City Council to confer such authority was not specified in the agenda description for Item 23 (or for any other item on the agenda). The lack of such notice to the public violated the Brown Act.”

A second letter was sent to the city and developers notifying them of the intent of the opponents to file suit “to have the City’s action on the matter invalidated and set aside because, among other reasons, the action resulted in a gift of tens of millions of dollars in public funds, exceeded the City’s economic-assistance authority established in April 2008, did not receive prior environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act, and violated the Ralph M. Brown Act.”

The letter requests that the City and developers “enter into an agreement to toll all applicable statutes of limitation for 30 to 60 days in order to allow the parties to engage in meaningful settlement discussions.”

It looks like this matter isn’t over by a long shot.