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FOCUS : What All Those Signs May Indicate to Visitors

February 09, 1989|Clipboard researched by Kathie Bozanich and Susan Davis Greene / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

Neon signs, blinking signs, square signs, round signs, signs with letters missing and every other type of sign imaginable inundate the area surrounding California's largest amusement park--Disneyland. Adding to the visual pandemonium are utility poles and wires that extend along Harbor Boulevard as far as the eye can see.

Newcomers deciding to take a drive or a stroll along Harbor Boulevard between Katella Avenue and the Santa Ana Freeway might very well wonder whether they took a wrong turn and ended up in Las Vegas.

Some of the older inns and motels, toiling amid all the joviality and merrymaking in Walt Disney's dynasty, are starting to show signs of wear. The consensus among merchants and residents in neighborhoods bordering the Magic Kingdom is that the area has taken a turn for the worse.

An ad hoc group called the Anaheim Committee for Traffic Solutions--consisting of city officials, motel and hotel owners and local business folks--is ready to do something to rescue the area. Is am important consideration for Anaheim: The Harbor Boulevard strip sees 12 million visitors a year.

The group has been meeting monthly at the Jolly Roger Inn near Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard to determine what to do with the aging, overbuilt community. Among the possibilities under discussion are:

* Formulating a uniform sign code; using monument or ground-level signs.

* Concealing utility wires underground. (In mid-January, the City Council decided to commission a $146,000 study to determine whether to place underground the utility lines in the Disneyland-Anaheim Convention Center area.)

* Improving traffic flow and congestion (perhaps through a monorail or people mover).

* Improving landscaping.

The 20-year-old Anaheim Convention Center, just across the street from Disneyland, is undergoing a $50-million expansion and renovation. When work is completed in the spring of 1990, the center will include a 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall and a 530-space parking structure underneath.

In 1987, 35.3 million people visited Anaheim and Orange County and spent $5.1 billion on dining, shopping and entertaining, according to the Area Visitors and Convention Bureau. (Visitor totals for 1988 have not yet been compiled.)

But the hotels, motels and other businesses along the Harbor Boulevard-Katella Avenue axis depend heavily on new attractions to draw more visitors into the area. The hope is that Disneyland's new ride, Splash Mountain, scheduled to be ready for the influx of summer tourists, will help reverse 1988's 2% occupancy decline for the 17,000 motel and hotel rooms surrounding the park.

Population Total: (1988 est.) 5,034 1980-88 change: +4.4% Median Age: 27.9

Racial/ethnic mix: White (non-Latino): 48% Latino: 45% Black: 1% Other: 6%

By sex and age: MALES Median age: 27.2 years FEMALES Median age: 28.8 years

Income Per capita: $11,075 Median household: $30,104 Average household: $33,432

Income Distribution: Less than $25,000: 43% $50,000-74,999: 16% $25,000-49,999: 32% More than $75,000: 9%

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