Anaheim Is Back, Mayor Declares In First Post-Pandemic State Of The City
By: Alicia Robinson
Date: July 14, 2021
“Orange County’s biggest city – which is also home to the county’s biggest employer, Disney – has been through the wringer in the past 16 months: a pandemic shut down the economy, about 30,000 residents found themselves jobless, and 900 residents died of COVID-19.
But Anaheim took a leading role in fighting the coronavirus and its ripple effects, Mayor Harry Sidhu told a crowd of about 730 during his State of the City address at the City National Grove of Anaheim on Wednesday, July 15. The luncheon was the first in-person event at the concert hall in more than a year.
The city distributed $67 million in aid to help businesses, nonprofits, renters and workers impacted by the pandemic. Also, people obtained 125,000 COVID-19 tests and 500,000 vaccinations at city sites, in addition to more than 6,000 shots given at mobile neighborhood clinics.
And now, Sidhu said, the city is poised for a major economic comeback that will be driven by new development around Angel Stadium and the Honda Center and at the Disneyland Resort. Sidhu highlighted, with the help of video presentations from Angels Baseball and Honda Center and Disney management, the new hotels, shops and restaurants as well as public parks and thousands of homes that will be built in coming years.
The “billions of dollars of investment” going into those developments will generate revenue over the long term that can be used to improve neighborhoods, Sidhu said – and redevelopment is already underway in west Anaheim, with a new housing development being built at Beach Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue and upgrades planned along an additional half-mile of Beach.
“As we make Beach Boulevard better, the neighborhoods of west Anaheim will get better. And that is just the start,” Sidhu said. “We are looking to improve neighborhoods across our city, along Euclid Street, along State College Boulevard, near our parks and at our shopping centers.”
He also called out the work the city has done in the past several years to address homelessness, including building temporary and permanent shelters and creating a new team of social workers to respond to homeless issues that don’t pose a public safety threat.
But in spite of the “new golden age” Sidhu proclaimed for Anaheim, it could take the city several years to recover from the loss of tourism revenue during the pandemic.
The fiscal 2021-22 budget approved last month uses some of the nearly $140 million in recently issued debt to plug a more than $50 million deficit. And the development around Angel Stadium depends on the city closing a sale that is now being examined by the state Housing and Community Development Department to see if it meets Surplus Land Act requirements, something Sidhu only obliquely referred to in his speech.
“Our mission in the months and years ahead is to define the next chapter of our history,” Sidhu said in his closing remarks. “To ensure that every Anaheim resident knows that they are living in the best of times.”