By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
Beauty queens, veteran politicians and hotels led the news parade for Garden Grove in 2012.
Leah Cecil, a former Miss Garden Grove, won the Miss California crown and will compete in the Miss America pageant in January. Closer to home, Missy Mendoza, 19, and Karina Valdez, 17, won the honors of Miss Garden Grove and Outstanding Teen for 2012-3.
Bruce Broadwater, who served 10 years as mayor before giving way to Bill Dalton as the city’s top elected official, won election to that post in November as Dalton was “termed out.”
Also elected to the city council were incumbent Steve Jones and challenger Chris Phan. Appointed incumbent Kris Beard was defeated, but the council appointed him to fill the vacancy created by Broadwater’s election to the mayor’s spot.
Hotels were front-and-center because of decisions by the voters of Garden Grove and the state department of finance. Measure Y was approved by residents, authorizing an increase of the hotel visitor’s tax from 13 to 14.5 percent. That could mean an additional $2.1 million in revenue annually to the city.
The state finance department agreed to recognize as “existing obligations” two hotel projects despite the end of redevelopment. Green lights were given to the Great Wolf water-park hotel on Harbor Boulevard just north of Garden Grove Boulevard, as well as a new hotel just south of the current Sheraton on Harbor.
Also approved was the Brookhurst Triangle mixed use project.
Not approved was a huge, three-hotel project on the east side of Harbor, but the city is continuing to work to persuade state officials to change their minds.
Garden Grove was also in the news for three law enforcement incidents. A Garden Grove police officer was convicted of trying to fix a traffic ticket in exchange for alcohol, and a 42-year-old Garden Grove man was arrested after allegedly firing 54 gunshots into the air and ground at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.
A 48-year-old local woman was arrested after allegedly trying to steal a baby from Garden Grove hospital.
On a more positive note, Mariette Hartley served as celebrity grand marshal for the 54th annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival.
Garden Grove’s most famous building – the Crystal Cathedral – will be renamed Christ Cathedral as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange assumes control of the iconic sanctuary in 2013.
Robert H. Schuller and family members suffered a major legal and financial reversal when a judge awarded them less that $700,000 in a courtroom battle over the church’s assets. They had been asking for over $5 million.