Coddling Anaheim Developers

Kris Murray and her fellow giveaway pals would have you believe that TOT incentivized hotel development is the norm in Anaheim.

The truth is that only one hotel has been built with TOT incentives in the history of the Resort District. That hotel just happens to be the Doubletree Hotel (which received a  $13 million tax giveaway) owned by Bill O'Connell.  Why does that name sound familiar?

Doubletree Anaheim

Bill O'Connell is the same developer who in January 2012, with the help of former Mayor turned lobbyist Curt Pringle and his puppet council, was able to amend the terms of a previously existing subsidy agreement and increase his tax giveaway to $158 million to build 2 luxury hotels at the failed GardenWalk mall. 

Bill O'Connell

That's 25% of the total construction costs according to City Manager Bob Wigenroth. In addition the City will receive NO TOT revenue from the hotels for 15 years or until  the cap of $158 million is reached, whichever comes first. In addition there is no agreement to hire local labor or pay prevailing wages. 

Artist rendering of GardenWalk Hotel project.

Why would the council majority agree to such a bad deal? The answer is complex:

1. I believe Bill O'Connell is upside down on the land he purchased in 2006 and faces severe personal economic hardships if the hotels aren't built (research ongoing). OC Treasurer-Tax Collector  documents show Bill O'Connell is spending the following on property tax alone on 3 dirt parcels:

2008/2009 - $158,000

2010/2011 - $259,000

2011/2012 - $266,000

Bill O'Connell is also a personal friend of Giveaway 3 members Kris Murray, Gail Eastman, and Harry Sidhu. Why not help a friend out right? Or was it pressure from "Master of the Universe" former Mayor Curt Pringle, who installed Kris Murray and Gail Eastman on the city council, to vote accordingly. After all, Curt Pringle did essentially orchestrate the monies that were funneled to Kris Murray and Gail Eastman thru his associations with Disney, OCBC, OCTAX, and The Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.

Curt Pringle, Kris Murray, and Todd Priest.

2. Disney was slated to brand and operate the hotels in the original agreement. Though word is that they have since backed out of the deal, a clause still remains in the amended agreement that was signed in January 2012. Disney also, through it's SOAR PAC, funneled upwards of $128,000 into campaigns to elect Giveaway 3 members Kris Murray and Gail Eastman.  Who says money doesn't buy power?

Mickey performing at an OCBC event.

3. The hotels are part of a larger plan to link ARTIC to the resort and convention center.

Whatever their motivations are, this is a bad deal for Anaheim. When Mr. O'Connell comes to council for another extension by the end of this year (which I promise he will), the answer should be NO. I imagine he would then default on any financing for the land and be forced to sell at a loss. That loss will be another developers gain who can hopefully come in and build something with private financing, ensuring 100% TOT revenue to our great City of Anaheim.