In response to the Eastern Gateway plans for the Disneyland Resort and concerns that good neighbor hotels and nearby businesses, Disneyland may now be re-examining some aspects of this plan according to the OC Register:
Local entrepreneurs again voiced concerns over the effect a proposed parking garage and bridge to the Disneyland Resort would have on their businesses, this time in front of the Planning Commission on Monday evening, while Disney officials struck a collaborative tone – stressing their willingness to find solutions to their counterparts’ worries.
Further underscoring the work still to be done to appease hotel and restaurant owners over access to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure is that the city announced it is pushing back a scheduled Jan. 23 meeting to approve a permit for the bridge. A new date has not been set.
“We’re going to keep collaborating, keep working hard in the coming weeks and months,” said Joe Haupt, the president of Spectrum Development Group, a consultant for Disney.
Business owners, though, tried to pressure Disney to follow up on promises of collaboration by stating their case to the commission, the first time they have addressed a formal body of public officials. Council chambers were filled and about a dozen people spoke.
“Our problem is that it literally routes pedestrians away from our businesses,” said Mariam El Haj, who is part of a family ownership group that operates the IHOP on Harbor Boulevard. “We ask that the greatest creative minds come up with a more creative solution.”
Disney’s Eastern Gateway Project is part of a $1 billion investment deal the entertainment company made with Anaheim last year, partially to avoid a gate tax, that would see a 6,901-spot parking garage and new security area go up behind independently owned hotels and restaurants on Harbor Boulevard. A 15-foot high, 65-foot wide bridge would span Harbor Boulevard to take Disney guests into the esplanade to buy tickets and enter the park.
The original plan would require hotel and restaurant patrons to walk one block southward and cut through a walkway to get to the security area. From there, they could enter the park.
Disney officials have since suggested allowing access to the security area from the backs of hotels and improving signs directing people to restaurants and shops.
Several pointed questions – such as about the practicability of building a bridge versus a tunnel or about the width of the bridge – suggested skepticism of the plan by some on the commission.
The proposal irked some of the more than 25 business owners along Harbor Boulevard. They argued at a community workshop last week and again Monday that the bridge is an inconvenience to their guests – who can now cross Harbor to the esplanade – and will decrease foot traffic along Harbor, the majority source of their patrons.
Placing the security behind their businesses also struck a nerve with some owners, who said Disney is bolstering the safety of their main entrance while making increasing the vulnerability of customers and employees of the local businesses.
“Our family is also interested in safety and security for our guests and employees,” said Greg Eisenman, general manager of Tropicana and Camelot Inn hotels. He added that putting a security screening area behind the local businesses put the puts the risk “in our backyards.”
Dan Hughes, the former Fullerton police chief and Disney‘s vice president of security and emergency services, said that moving the security area back and creating a buffer between screening and the park allows officials to better “observe behaviors” and identify those who may pose a threat to the resort.