The city that is home to Disneyland, the Angels and the Mighty Ducks is also the latest to approve a major downtown economic development project that stays clear of eminent domain. “A-Town,” Lennar Corp.’s revitalization plan unanimously approved in October by the Anaheim city council, is expected to energize the city’s downtown area with townhouses, lofts, a shopping center and up to 11 residential towers soaring as high as 35 stories. Experts estimate the project will generate up to $22 million a year in property taxes alone.
A-Town is slated to become the centerpiece of Platinum Triangle, an urban neighborhood that will mix coffee shops with day-care centers, bars with grocery stores, and retail establishments with mixed-income residences. The basic idea is to bring renewed energy to the district surrounding Angel Stadium—and to do so without condemning or threatening to condemn a single piece of land for the project.
Last year, Anaheim loosened its zoning restrictions as part of a comprehensive effort to initiate its revitalization goals. This helped to encourage private companies to bring development proposals to the table. In a matter of months, city officials received a number of plans and ultimately decided on Lennar’s by a unanimous vote.
All too often, municipalities conjure up a plan, seek out developers, and use eminent domain to accumulate land for a project. Victimizing countless hardworking Americans by taking their homes and small businesses against their will, the government-based approach carries with it tremendous social and economic costs, which often go unreported. Adding insult to injury, the development projects that rely on eminent domain often result in abysmal failures; the American landscape is dotted with eminent domain projects that didn’t live up to the high-blown expectations and promises of their backers.
Anaheim’s current city administration has pursued a market-based approach to redevelopment. The city council has frequently overturned restrictive planning commission policies, it has created a “Home Improvement Holiday” to waive permitting fees for home renovation, and it has stayed away from micromanaging private business decisions. And last year, the city passed policy directive 220, which forbids the use of eminent domain for private economic development.
The city’s approach to A-Town simultaneously protects private property rights and pursues large-scale economic redevelopment. The Castle Coalition urges other cities and municipalities throughout the nation to look to Anaheim’s A-Town when pursuing redevelopment efforts.
 “The fast track to A-Town; By using free-market approach, Anaheim takes quick step toward developing Platinum Triangle,” Orange County Register, Oct. 31, 2005, at Editorials; “Anaheim’s Revolution is Freedom-Friendly,” Orange County Register, May 30, 2004, at Editorials; Dave McKibben, “The Urban Afterthought,” Los Angeles Times: Orange County Edition, Oct. 31, 2005, at B1.
 “The fast track to A-Town; By using free-market approach, Anaheim takes quick step toward developing Platinum Triangle,” Orange County Register, Oct. 31, 2005, at Editorials.
 Lomi Kriel, “Businesses in Anaheim Get a Break; the city is waiving fees for new owners, hoping to boost its economy in the long-run by bringing in jobs and investment,” Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2005, at B3; Chris Norby, “Eminent Domain Uproar,” Orange County Register, July 18, 2005, at Commentary; “Anaheim’s Revolution is Freedom-Friendly,” Orange County Register, May 30, 2004, at Editorials.
 “Putting freedom into words; Anaheim City Council bans the use of eminent domain for improper purposes,” Orange County Register, Nov. 22, 2004.