Opinion

As Mickey flirts with Garden Grove …

DOES DISNEY really have any ideas about bringing development to Garden Grove? (Flickr/William Showbridge).

Forgive me while I daydream for a bit ….

Disney, finally dissatisfied with Anaheim’s newfound resistance to being a company town, decides to aim the expansion of its expanding resort plans down Harbor Boulevard into Garden Grove, and further.

Considering the more cooperative spirit to be found in Garden Grove, and the interesting possibilities inherent in the OC Streetcar, the descendents of Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney embark on a new destination.

It uses its influence with the County of Orange and the Orange County Transit Authority to extend the OCStreetcar line – now planned to connect central Santa Ana to Garden Grove at Harbor Boulevard – all the way up Harbor to Chapman Avenue in the Big Strawberry, just a few hundred yards south of the Anaheim city limits.

In the meantime, it acquires the large Target store site at Chapman and Harbor for two more hotels – the same two currently planned for Anaheim, but not yet built.

The streetcar now connects from Santa Ana sufficiently far north to make much of Harbor Boulevard considerably more valuable. Some cheesy properties now utilized for used car sales and other marginal uses and such are snapped up by the Mouse and are transformed into a glittering urban pathway for entertainment and lodging.

But the big prize is even, well, bigger. Garden Grove owns (within Santa Ana city limits) the 100-acre Willowick Golf Course site on Fifth Avenue, which just happens now to have a station stop of the streetcar. Those two cities are now joined by Disney in an effort to find a higher, better use for allllll that open land right in the middle of Orange County.

Anaheim, stung by this turn of events, decides to drop its previous objections to a streetcar, and in a few years there’s a modern transit system that swooshes residents, tourists and shoppers from the OC’s new Oz (my name for the old golf course site) all the way to D-land, the Convention Center, Angel Stadium and more.

Prosperity reigns and The Big Strawberry is right smack dab in the middle of it.

OK, give me a second for my breathing to return to normal and me to reality …

By now, many of you have heard about the friction between Disney and Anaheim, and the suggestion that maybe the House The Mouse Built might be interested in taking its new business to Garden Grove.

It’s tough to know whether that’s a real possibility or just smoke to use as leverage in getting what it wants from our sister north of Katella. There are several bones of contention here, most principally the streetcar issue and the proposal to impose an $18 minimum wage for hotel (and certain other) workers.

For me, there’s an interesting moral conundrum at work. It’s the hotel workers who are pushing for the wage hike, and I have been a long-time union guy nearly all of my working life. I have been known to sing “Look for the Union Label” in the shower.

On the other hand, considering how Anaheim has sort of looked down on GG for half-a-century, and how Disney (which also owns ABC and ESPN, etc.) has – what’s the technical term? – Almost All The Money In the World – and that some of that might flow our way, well, you know . . .

It reminds me of the remark by radio personality Fibber McGee, who once said, “Politically I have my own ideas, but financially I’m non-partisan.”

Do I really want to beat the drum for labeling Garden Grove as the city with cut-rate wages? Do I really think this daydream might come true? Do we believe too much or too little?

Hard to say, but almost nothing has gotten me day-dreaming like this, this much, since the Mickey Mouse Club was in black and white.

Jim Tortolano’s Retorts appears every other week, usually on Wednesday. Full disclosure: Jim worked at D-land 1973-74 and was represented by the hotel workers union.

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