The Anaheim, Calif., city council unanimously voted May 7 to approve zoning changes and an update to the city’s development agreement with Walt Disney Co., allowing the company to move ahead with its DisneylandForward project. Disney agreed to invest at least $1.9 billion in the next 10 years, and has said it may spend as much as $2.5 billion on the theme park expansion project.

The zoning amendments provide Disney with greater flexibility in permitted uses at its Disneyland Resort properties, mainly by merging the 97-acre hotel district and 292-acre theme park district, and by expanding those uses to another 24.7-acre district currently just used for parking. The updates take effect in 30 days.

Disney has shared few details about what it plans to build as part of DisneylandForward, other than that it will provide an “integrated experience” likely merging attractions, hotels, dining and retail with a shared theme. The company says it expects the project will support 8,960 construction jobs. 

“Now, with your historic vote, we’ll get to work on these integrated and immersive experiences that only Disney can create,” said Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, during the city council meeting. 

The company has said it plans to build a parking structure and multi-modal transit center that would be the largest infrastructure and parking components of the project. Those pieces would be built under a project labor agreement. 

disneyland_map_ENRweb.jpgMap courtesy City of Anaheim

The update renews the development agreement between Disney and Anaheim renews for another 40 years. As part of the update, the city agreed to abandon three public right-of-way segments, including 1,150 ft of Magic Way and the remaining portion of Clementine Street, which are owned by Disney, and 125 ft of Hotel Way, which Disney has leased from owner Southern California Edison.

In return, Disney agreed to provide the city with $30 million for affordable housing, $8 million for city parks, $40 million for street and transportation improvements and $10 million for sewer improvements, along with reimbursement for increased staff and service costs for plan checking, permitting and inspections.

Multiple Anaheim residents spoke against the deal ahead of the council’s vote, particularly against the right-of-way abandonments and officials’ decision to deny a request to hold a re-hearing related to other DisneyForward approvals the council passed last month. There was also a contingent of supporters at the meeting who applauded Potrock’s comments and the council’s 7-0 vote to approve the amendments.

City staff recommended the council approve the amendments, writing in a report that the project “would provide more flexibility to develop a wider range of attractions, hotel accommodations, restaurants and shopping opportunities, which would support the long-term growth.”

The updated development agreement does not expand the area for Disney to develop or the number of hotel rooms it can build, but Disney has still not fully used what officials previously permitted. The company was previously permitted to develop a combined 6.5 million sq ft for Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, but it has so far developed just 3.1 million sq ft between the two, according to city records. And of the permitted 5,600 hotel rooms Disney can build, it has so far built just 2,342.