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U.S. May Be Asked to Pay for Parking Garage

April 23, 1993|JEFFREY A. PERLMAN | TIMES URBAN AFFAIRS WRITER

SANTA ANA — In an effort to aid the proposed $3-billion Disneyland Westcot resort, Orange County transportation officials will probably vote Monday to seek federal money to build one of Disney's parking garages.

And in a major policy breakthrough, a plan tentatively agreed to by Disney, Anaheim and the state Department of Transportation calls for rail and bus stops as well as a park-and-ride facility at the seven-story building.

Until now, Anaheim and Disney officials had not worked out any arrangement for public transit use of the two planned parking garages.

In addition, the new agreement calls for all revenue from the 12,000 parking spaces to go to public transit projects. And public ownership of the building will allow the project to sidestep a state law that prohibits use of some public money for the benefit of a private developer.

This is the second change in proposed Disney parking structures within a week. Earlier, Disney revealed that it had redesigned plans for the other parking garage at West Street, west of Disneyland, after complaints by neighbors that the structure was too big and intrusive.

The latest change involves the parking structure planned between Harbor Boulevard and Clementine Street, east of Disneyland.

Disney has said repeatedly that the Westcot project is marginal financially, and may not be built without an infusion of public money for transportation improvements.

As part of the latest proposal, Caltrans and Anaheim will share the $50-million cost of car-pool ramps from the Santa Ana Freeway at West Street and at Freedman Way. The car-pool ramps won't connect directly to the parking garages, but will empty onto city streets immediately next to them.

Some of the ramp money--about 50%--will come from savings Caltrans has realized because work on the freeway widening project is under budget.

The redesigned east parking structure would in part substitute for a grander vision--a $400-million regional transportation center next to the Santa Ana and Orange freeways that Anaheim officials touted to Congress unsuccessfully during the past two years.

"To the extent that we can generate a facility in the area that achieves the goals of (Orange County Transportation Authority) and Caltrans, which is to get people out of single-occupant vehicles and into buses and trains and car pools, this is a win-win situation," said Kerry Hunnewell, vice president of Disney Development.

Hunnewell was in Washington on Thursday meeting with OCTA officials in preparation for meetings with key congressmen on the latest proposal.

Details of the new plan, which faces major hurdles in Congress, were included in a written memorandum that the OCTA board is expected to approve Monday morning.

"I know of no opposition among board members to the memorandum," said OCTA Vice Chairman Dana W. Reed, a Costa Mesa lawyer. "I don't deny that this is needed to make the Disney project go. But we're in a serious economic slump and here's a chance for a major infusion of money that will generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue and tens of thousands of permanent jobs. We simply can't afford not to do this."

OCTA Chief Executive Officer Stan Oftelie said he hopes to get most of the parking structure funds from an existing grant application now before the Federal Transit Administration. That application seeks up to $318 million for directly connecting car-pool lanes from the Costa Mesa Freeway to the San Diego Freeway.

To help justify the direct-connection project, OCTA had to identify it as part of a countywide system of similar car-pool or so-called commuter lanes and support facilities such as park-and-ride lots.

In a case of serendipity, county transportation officials in 1987 approved a countywide network of car-pool lanes and future park-and-ride lots--one of which was to occupy the same land as Disney's east parking structure.

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