Anaheim resort rubble
Gabriel San Román
Across the street from Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center, piles of debris litter a lot once occupied by the Anabella Hotel. Just last month, Anaheim City Council members dug shovels into the soil of the future Westin Anaheim Resort site during a groundbreaking ceremony. Business leaders and trade-union bosses also gathered to celebrate the first Westin built in Southern California in a quarter-century, a $245 million, 613-room project that everyone involved insists will change the hospitality game in the city once it opens in 2021.
But the wreckage at the construction site is an omen of sorts. The Westin got a massive tax break courtesy of Anaheim’s Four Diamond Hotel Incentive Program, which gave away $550 million in developer welfare for it and two other proposed high-end hotels. Councilwoman Kris Murray hailed the now-defunct program during the groundbreaking ceremony to KABC-TV Channel 7 (owned by Walt Disney Co.), claiming its long-term benefits will bring in “hundreds of millions and, in [more than] 30 years, more than $1 billion to the city’s general-fund revenues.”
She was part of a council majority that in 2016 granted the Westin and others 70 percent in future bed-tax for its first 20 years. And when the subsidies end in 2041, the deal will resemble all the concrete and pipes strewn around the future Westin right now.
The councilwoman didn’t say anything to Channel 7 about the short-term benefits, perhaps for good reason. An economic analysis done by the city and obtained by the Weekly shows that Anaheim expects to lose $2.8 million in general fund revenues—money that pays for city services such as parks, libraries and police—on the project when the subsidy ends. Keyser Marston Associates, a consulting firm hired by Anaheim, painted a robust picture when it reported the city stood to gain $19.8 million in net incremental revenue from the deal during that same time period. But…