It turns out that the ARTIC transit hub might cost Anaheim residents a fortune – right from the start. Apparently Anaheim City officials have not yet secured a corporate sponsor willing to put its name on a transit station opening Dec. 6, leading to a potential operating budget shortfall for the next seven months, according to the OC Register.
What this means is that it will cost more than $3.6 million to maintain and operate ARTIC through the end of June, but only half of that funding is secured.
The waste that is ARTIC and Measure M
The really ridiculous part of this mess is that Anaheim never needed ARTIC. The train station at Angel Stadium was perfectly functional and user-friendly.
The Orange County Transportation Authority paid for the bulk of ARTIC’s $185 million construction cost through funds collected under Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax approved by voters to pay for transit projects across the region, according to the OC Register.
Make no mistake about it – we are stuck with ARTIC because of former Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle – who is now a lobbyist. Pringle and his henchmen were the ones who promoted Measure M in the first place – and they designed the measure so tax money would be wasted on ridiculous projects like ARTIC.
Pringle by the way controls the Anaheim City Council via his proxies – Council Members Gail Eastman, Kris Murray and Lucille Kring, not to mention Jordan Brandman. Fortunately Eastman was booted in the November General Election – but Pringle still controls the rest of the City Council.
Pringle also controls the OC Taxpayers Association, through is proxies. They were prominent backers of Eastman and Murray in the November General Election this year. Fortunately their attacks on Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and successful City Council candidate James Vanderbilt failed.
So what about ARTIC? Well the original Pringle plan was to make it part of the California High Speed Rail, but that dream is over. Unfortunately now we are stuck with ARTIC.
“There is a shortfall in the beginning, and then with the development and other things coming online with tenants, the leases go up and then you can start to pay back those funds,” said Natalie Meeks, head of Anaheim’s Public Works Department.
About those leases…who is going to eat all that overpriced food?
The only guaranteed annual revenue for ARTIC now, is coming from base rent from four concessionaires that have signed leases to open restaurants and shops inside the transit hub, totaling $510,708. City officials are trying to lease two more spaces, which would increase anticipated rent to $800,000 a year.
Three separate concepts will be incorporated into a 4,000-square-foot space known as the Alchemist HQ, operated by restaurateur Leonard Chan, known for his California Sabu Sabu and other eateries quickly springing up across Orange County, according to the OC Register.
Alchemist HQ, set to open as soon as May, will provide cocktails and hard-to-find beers at the Hive Bar. Gourmet burgers, chicken wings and meat pies will be available at his R.A.D. Nano Brewery by Black Sheep Brewing. Healthier fare, including meat and poke bowls, will be served at SILO.
Across the hall, Cajun-style steam-kettle cooked seafood and chicken dishes will be served as soon as May at Ritter’s, which has locations in Santa Ana and Huntington Beach. The 4,000-square-foot restaurant will also feature The Oyster Bar, with 10 to 15 varieties of fresh-shucked oysters.
Both restaurant operators signed 10-year leases and will pay about $187,000 annually in base rent, plus a portion of profits depending on how much the businesses earn.
ARTIC has also signed a coffee shop called the Lost Bean, according to their website. “The Lost Bean is an environmentally conscious coffee and tea shop that offers a variety of organic, homemade food and beverages.” That means of course that they will be selling six dollar cups of coffee.
And they signed the Mission Market, “a progressive convenience store founded in 2013 in Fullerton, CA. Now opening as an Express store in Anaheim.” Mission Market Express will focus on products most relevant to transit users, including a great selection of grab ‘n go foods such as salads, sandwiches, and sushi, according to their website. Ridiculously they plan to accept payment in Bitcoins – which makes you wonder what the heck they will be charging for that pre-packaged sushi?
Now remember – this is a bus and train station. City projections suggest that 10,000 trips a day will start or end at the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, or ARTIC, when it opens this year. But the actual number appears to be closer to 5,000. And that counts travelers both as they come and go, a typical measure for the transportation industry, one that double-counts anyone making a round trip, according to the OC Register.
Have you ridden a Metrolink train before? You cannot miss a connection – or you will have to wait awhile for the next one. Same goes for the buses that will be arriving at ARTIC. So who exactly is supposed to be eating all that expensive gourmet food?
A bad sign…
City planners are also hoping that they can fetch $800,000 of advertising revenue each year by erecting an 84-foot-tall digital billboard along the 57 freeway and two other electronic signs. Anaheim’s Planning Commission rejected the deal earlier this month, citing a citywide ban on all billboards enacted in 2006. The City Council could overturn that decision as soon as Tuesday, when it also could decide whether to approve a 20-year contract with Clear Channel Outdoor to build and maintain the signs around ARTIC and sell the ad space.
The bad news is that major studies show that digital billboards cause more accidents on adjacent freeways – due to the distraction they pose to drivers.
You can see for yourself the tax boondoggle that is ARTIC at their Grand Opening Celebration, which is scheduled from 9:30 am to 3 pm on Saturday, December 13, 2014. What a great chance for you to see where your money will be wasted – for many, many years.