The Orange County Register has published an editorial calling out the Anaheim City Council for favoring one hotel developer. They are going to be voting again this week on the matter of forking over millions of dollars in hotel taxes to the developer of two proposed hotels at the GardenWalk center. You can read the City of Anaheim’s take on this here. Here is the Register’s editorial:
A good growth-incentive plan should apply the same process and approach for all developers interested in investing in the city.
Giving special favor to some businesses over others is an unfortunate practice that some city governments opt to pursue in the name of economic growth and development. Such political favoritism creates unnecessary community conflict, undermines economic activity and creates an uneven playing field that discourages investment by individuals or businesses not somehow connected to local politicians or represented by lobbyists who maneuver through the political process.
On Tuesday, the city of Anaheim has an opportunity to eliminate the perception of political favoritism in city development by tabling a scheduled City Council vote that gives special tax incentives to one particular hotel developer. Instead, the council should create a citywide incentive plan for all new development.
This is chance for the city to quell criticism and lead the county, the state and, perhaps, the nation in what good development policy ought to look like coming out of such a traumatic recession.
It’s commendable that the Council wants growth and economic development for the city, but there are right – and wrong – ways to go about realizing such growth. Favoritism is not the way forward.
A good growth-incentive plan for the city should have one major pillar: It should apply the same process and approach for all developers interested in investing in the city. Thus, instead of approving tax incentives for one project, the council should enact a blanket policy that would apply to all new developments. Such a policy sends a message that politically connected players need not apply for sweetheart deals – Anaheim is open to business for all.
Nick Berardino, Orange County Employee Association general manager, suggested another way of building trust in the community for development projects would be for the new policy to include modest mitigation funds from developers seeking advantageous tax incentives from the city. This fund could be invested in parks or school improvements for underserved areas in Anaheim. It would be a gesture of good faith.
It is unfair to single out one hotelier for a special deal. The council ought to take this opportunity to work up a fair alternative that helps all of Anaheim residents and anyone willing to invest in the city. Anaheim’s council has the choice Tuesday to constructively lead or further foment animosity in the city. We hope it chooses to lead.