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Schools Will Get $2 Million in Disney Resort Accord

September 15, 1993|MATT LAIT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — In exchange for dropping its lawsuit against the $3-billion Disneyland Resort, the Anaheim City School District will get more than $2 million up front and additional income later, according to an agreement approved Tuesday.

The district will receive a flat $1 million payment, plus a $1.2 million development fee from Disney at the start of the project's construction. And it will share the increased property tax revenue generated from two future redevelopment projects in the city.

"We are pleased that we have cleared another major hurdle in moving forward with this project," City Manager James D. Ruth said. "This shows a continuing commitment on the city's part to do everything possible to make the Disney resort a reality."

The City Council unanimously approved the agreement Tuesday after more than six weeks of intense negotiations. The district's board of trustees, which already had tentatively agreed to the settlement, formally accepted it late Tuesday night.

The elementary school district--the county's largest with 21 schools and 16,300 students--was the only district to file a lawsuit challenging the environmental findings of the proposed resort. The suit contended that the resort would create further overcrowding in schools and drain already limited district resources.

As proposed, the resort would consist of a new theme park next to Disneyland, 5,600 hotel rooms, a 5,000 seat amphitheater, a shopping district and two of the nation's largest parking garages.

Other school districts, including Garden Grove Unified, Centralia, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified and Anaheim Union High School, dropped their legal challenges in return for a commitment from Disney to provide various educational programs.

Officials from Anaheim City School District were not satisfied with just a promise of Disney programs. Superintendent Mel Lopez has said the impacts of the project were far greater and would only be offset by money for a new school.

Initially, district officials said they would drop the suit if Disney and the city spent $15 million to build a new school. That request was rejected.

After the lawsuit was filed July 22, city officials acknowledged that the district would suffer adverse impacts greater than the other districts and that it should receive special financial considerations.

Under the settlement agreement, the district will receive a $1 million payment that would come from bond measures paying for the infrastructure costs of the project. The revenue from the project eventually will pay for the bond measures, city officials said.

The agreement also details a complicated arrangement by which the district will receive a percentage of property tax revenue sparked by two city redevelopment projects: the Brookhurst Commercial Corridor Redevelopment Project and the Commercial Industrial Redevelopment Project. City officials said that could mean income in the millions of dollars over the years.

The settlement is contingent on the project going forward.

In return, the district agreed to drop its suit, and submit a letter supporting the project.

Disney released a statement after the settlement was reached saying that it was "pleased we have successfully resolved the school districts' concerns regarding the proposed Disneyland Resort expansion. Through constructive dialogue, a cooperative effort has been forged which will benefit the children, the districts and, ultimately the communities."

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