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Anaheim vs. Disney: Let's Get Ready to Rumble!

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Daily Show devotees will remember a recent episode in which special correspondent Rob Riggle was sent to Anaheim to report on a local dispute pitting a coalition of Anaheim business owners and residents against the almighty Disney over an affordable housing initiative in the Resort District (which the company firmly opposes). Allegations of possible gang-related violence, mugging, drug-dealing (and even fellatio) abounded in the hilarious report as Riggle questioned a befuddled Councilwoman Lorri Galloway and stumped conservative pundit Stephen Moore over the merits of the plan (you can peep it in its entirety here but, quick, before Viacom takes it down!).

At issue was a ballot initiative that the anti-Disney coalition wanted to include alongside two Disney-backed measures — an initiative and a referendum — that would preserve nonresidential zoning in the areas adjacent to their two theme parks, Disneyland and California Adventure. The coalition's initiative would give voters direct control of zoning over Disney's third planned entertainment resort.

The Disney-sponsored initiative would require property owners planning on developing new projects in the Resort District to first seek approval from the voters while the referendum would ask voters to reject an Anaheim City Council-backed move to change zoning measures to allow the construction of low-cost housing.

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"We are trying the path of least resistance first. If that doesn't work, we will get signatures," said Diane Singer, chairwoman of the coalition pushing the initiative. "We don't want Disney controlling Anaheim.... We're giving up voter rights to a big corporation, and I don't think that is right." Councilwoman Lorri Galloway has expressed her support for this third ballot initiative, arguing that "Disney's initiative basically says everything except Disney can be voted on by residents."

Before they can formally submit it to be included on the ballot, however, the coalition's members will need to resolve a few nagging issues: namely meeting state election code requirements (the initiative lacks the name and address of the group, for one matter). Supporters of the anti-Disney measure are confident that these problems will be taken care of shortly and that it will be included in the City Council's next ballot.

photo by pianoforte via flickr