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    Anaheim residents, business leaders weigh in on Disneyland theme park expansion at workshop
    • October 11, 2023

    Anaheim residents and business leaders piled into City Hall Monday night to give the city’s Planning Commission early feedback on the Disneyland Resort’s expansion proposal.

    While ostensibly the Monday commission meeting was a workshop focused on the DisneylandForward plan’s 17,000-page environmental impact report, many residents used the opportunity to voice their support or concerns with the project.

    The seven-member Planning Commission heard presentations from city staff and Disney representatives about the proposal to update a 1990s plan to give the company more flexibility to add attractions, hotels and restaurants in areas of the resort property currently outside where the theme parks already are. The proposal would not add to the Disneyland resort’s current footprint or the caps on what it is allowed to build.

    Disney’s Global Development Vice President Rachel Alde said the company is committed to working with residents and “we are simply asking to utilize the entitlements that we already have for the theme park and hotel and spread it across the lands that we already own and control.”

    The focus of the proposal is along the western side of the resort and the southeast side on the Toy Story parking lot where there are single-family and multi-family homes nearby.

    Beverly Griggs, who lives close to the park, said she moved to Anaheim to be closer to Disneyland, and that she has been pleased with the answers the company has given her about the development proposal. Griggs did express concerns about pests possibly intruding on her house if the theme park moves more of the guest amenities closer.

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    “When you are gonna move churros, cotton candy and popcorn a hundred feet away from my house, I want to make sure that the procedures are in place to make (sure) those little guys don’t come across,” Griggs said. “When Disneyland closed down for the pandemic, we had rats and roaches. And as soon as Disneyland reopened, they went back.”

    The Planning Commission will vote whether to certify the environmental impact report at a later meeting. The proposal is expected to reach the City Council later this year.

    Joe Haupt, a consultant for the company, called DisneylandForward a 40-year project and said it would bring thousands of jobs and new tax revenues for the city. Haupt said the company has made extensive outreach efforts in the community for the past few years.

    “Many of the design concepts and design features you’ll see in the project today came out of those interactions with our neighbors,” Haupt said.

    Objections to the DisneylandForward project from residents included concerns about more traffic in the resort area and that Anaheim hasn’t built enough housing to accommodate a surplus of workers.

    Many hoteliers and building trade groups showed up in support of the DisneylandForward proposal on Monday, praising the expansion plans as good for Anaheim and asking for the Planning Commission to eventually certify the environmental impact report.

    Fred Brown, the general manager for the Desert Palms Hotel, said Disney has been an instrumental partner for hotel development in the city and construction will have an impact, but that is temporary.

    The Desert Palms Hotels is near the southern end of the California Adventure theme park, and Brown said he occasionally hears people screaming on a roller coaster, but “other than that I’ve never heard any complaints from my guests for noise.”

    Frances Noteboom, who’s lived by the resort for more than two decades, said she can count on her hand the number of disturbances the theme park caused her and that she’s been assured that the mitigations for noise will meet her expectations.

    “Initially we were upset such a huge project could be built so close to our residential neighborhood, but as time went on, we came to accept that the Disney corporation can, with permits, extend on their land as they see fit,” Noteboom said. “The good thing is we’ve engaged with the principals of the project and they have listened to concerns and acted on our suggestions.”

    Residents may submit comments on the environmental impact report through Oct. 30.

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    ​ Orange County Register