The issue in the case of “A Brawl in Mickey’s Backyard” is that the employees at Disney feel that they are not treated well by the famous theme park owners going so far as to say that “they want to make money [referring to Disney], but they don’t care about the employees”. The uproar and the sentiment was expressed more vigorously in the opening scene of the case, when dozens of protestors gathered in August of 2007 to stage a kit to express their open displeasure at Disney’s lack of support for their employees. The protest was instigated when a local developer called SunCal arranged to buy 26 acre site in the resort district across the street from the theme park. SunCal plans were to build 1,500 condominiums with 15% of the units set aside for below the market rate rental apartments. Since housing in Anaheim, California [the home to the Disney theme park] was expensive, many of Disney’s 20,000 employees couldn’t afford to live there. The average price of a house in the vicinity was more than $600,000 and a rental of a one bedroom apartment was $1400 a month. Keeping in mind custodians at the park earned an average of $1916 a month so that would leave them with only about $500 of their salary barely enough to sustain them for the rest of the month! Also, keep in mind that restaurant attendants earn around $1166 a month, so a rental is out of the question, which brings us to the fact that only about 18% of the resort employees are able to afford living in the area. The 16400 employees are left to commute long distances by car or bus to get to work. Furthermore, when SunCal wanted to proceed with its plans it had to get permission from the City Council, because its plans for the development were in the resort area. It wasn’t clear if SunCal was going to succeed so it roused a lot of advocates from the employees at Disney as well as affordable housing advocates as well as by other individuals and groups who supported the prospect of reducing long commutes, thus reducing air pollution. However, Disney was in the way. It greatly opposed the plan for several reasons. One of which was that the resort district across the street was just that: a resort district. In the early 1900’s , the city of Anaheim designated 2 square miles across the street from the theme park as a special resort district. The resort area, which was 5% of the city’s area only, produced more than half of its tax revenue by 2007. Therefore the area and any development new or old within it were restricted to serve only tourist needs. This meant tourism related development such as hotels and restaurants, Disney argued, and not affordable housing. Disney argued that it wasn’t against the issue of providing the employees with affordable housing, but it is against it being in the area that is allocated for tourism. Having SunCal go ahead with its plan will affect the area and its theme park subsequently because it will take land away from being allocated to tourists needs [will be explained more fully in Q3]. “It’s not an either/or” Disney argued “Anaheim has to address the issue of affordable housing but it also had to protect the resort area!” The two sides quickly formed their own advocates. SunCal advocates formed the Coalition to Defend and Protect Anaheim declaring that “these new homes would enable many families to live near their places of work and thereby reduce commuter congestion on freeways”. Disney’s advocates on the other hand formed Save our Anaheim Resort District to protect the resort area from non-tourism projects. The City Council was split on the issue, to say the least. The five person council has to decide if it will give permissions for SunCal to proceed to build its development plan in a site located strictly for tourism projects, only because this will solve the affordable housing dilemma, or stick with Disney’s claim that the site was made from the start for tourism projects and disregarding the fact now will only hurt the area and...
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