The internet nearly broke in half last week as Disney made a landmark announcement: Disney addicts will soon be able to live at Disney all day, every day. Fans are thrilled, bullies are making fun of those fans, and now, some of the residents who live near the location of Disney’s first “Storyliving by Disney” residential community want the Mouse and all his friends to just pack up and go away, long before they’ve ever broken ground.
These master-planned communities are intended to inspire residents to foster new friendships, pursue their interests and write the next exciting chapter in their lives,” reads a press release from The Walt Disney Company, “all while enjoying the attention to detail, unique amenities, and special touches that are Disney hallmarks.”
The very first “Storyliving by Disney” community will be built in Rancho Mirage, California, located in the Greater Palm Springs Area and will feature different types of homes, such as condos and single-family homes. The 618-acre community, called Cotino, also has zoning approval that allows for the development of a hotel and shopping, dining, and entertainment venues.
The community will host a 24-acre oasis with clear, turquoise waters powered by Crystal Lagoons technology, a part of which will include a beach park accessible by members and the public as well. A promenade will grant members beautiful views of the Santa Ana Mountains on the horizon.
Disney’s obviously thrilled about the location of its first living community, as the area has ties to Walt Disney himself.
“Welcome to a dynamic, creative oasis set within the stunning landscape of Palm Springs — the ultimate destination for curious dreamers and doers seeking exploration, innovation, and inspiration.”
Disney promises the new community will serve as a source of inspiration for its residents, lending itself to the community resembling a “brilliant living painting” that “empowers all who live here.”
But some residents in the area don’t feel that Cotino will empower them at all, saying that such a development is irresponsible and would change the very fabric of the community already in existence nearby.
A post by the Desert Sun features some of the reactions to Disney’s new Cotino community from those in the Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage area, and they aren’t in favor of the development–not one bit.
“So let me get this straight,” begins Sam Lipetz of Rancho Mirage. “Rancho Mirage city officials said they first learned of Disney’s involvement on Tuesday afternoon [the day before Disney’s big announcement]. Mayor Ted Weill immediately declares it ‘a fabulous fit’ and ‘terrific.’ After his careful analysis of this 400-room hotel, 1,700 homes and 24-acre lagoon project, he said he expects there may be some pushback from residents.”
To be sure, Mayor Weill does expect that pushback.
“I think that’s indigenous with any new development,” Weill said. “You’re going to get the normal pushback related to concerns about traffic, noise, crime, water usage and other elements.”
Mr. Lipetz says he thinks Mayor Weill is being taken for a [Disney] ride by the Walt Disney Company. He also says that this kind of development, if allowed to proceed, will “change the fabric of an entire community,” and will be an irresponsible approach when it comes to water, “the most scarce resource of the 21st century.” Lipetz is perplexed by the city’s lack of short-term vacation rentals, but its excitement over something like Disney’s Cotino.
Another resident presents the community’s oasis, which will technically be located in the California desert, as another example of “greed over reason.”
“So my power bill is going up thanks to the tiered pricing plan, and there seems to be a chance that within 10 years I might not even be able to run the air conditioner during the summer due to power shortages,” says Dave Middleton of Palm Desert. “And the water district is hounding me to conserve water because we’re in a drought, and I’m paying more for the little water I can have. So in what universe does it make sense to build a Xanadu for the very rich with a 24-acre lagoon in Rancho Mirage? Greed triumphs over reason again.”
“The Walt Disney Co. is developing a ‘Storyliving’ community in Rancho Mirage featuring access to amenities like a waterfront clubhouse and club-only beach area using Crystal Lagoons technology in the construction of a large water feature,” explains Palm Desert resident Lucinda Sue Crosby. “A drought that has ravaged California for much of the past couple of decades is the driest 22-year period in at least 1,200 years, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change. The years-long study was based on tree-ring science and sedimentation calculation. What’s wrong with this picture?”
It remains to be seen how many residents are opposed to the idea of a Disney community in their backyards, but two things are certain: Disney already owns the land on which Cotino is to be built, and initial plans for the community have been approved by the city. We will have to wait and see if the situation turns into a fighting of city hall, in which case the outcome will no doubt be influenced by many factors. For now, the master planned community continue, though there’s no word yet on a date for a ground-breaking ceremony.