Talking to neighbors and other Anaheimers gives me an idea of how informed and misinformed people are about the negotiations between the Angels and Anaheim. I think this is in large part due to how Mayor Tait and his allies have worked to drive a message that it is a bad deal for Anaheim taxpayers, a message that has made its way into local media coverage (the Voice of OC is probably the worst). That’s a strange message since there is no deal yet.
I have found that through fact-based conversation with others that they tend to come around to the view that the principles of the negotiation MOU are fair and should result in a good deal for the city.
One factoid being put forward by reactionary critics is that the city is “giving away” land that is worth “billions.”
if this land if so valuable, then why has it sat there unused and undeveloped, under the eyes of City Hall, for nearly twenty years (Mayor Tom Tait was on the City Council for ten of those years). At hand are, I believe, 120 acres. The bulk of this land is encumbered by parking agreements with Angels, office buildings, Amtrak, and the City National Grove. Let’s factor out the existing stadium, which leaves probably 100 acres and value it at approximately $1.5 million an acre.
Granted, that is ballpark (pardon the pun) since a more exact valuation is difficult given the encumbrances (which are ignored by critics who talk as if development could begin tomorrow). Even so, that puts the value at around $150 million. If the city ultimately transfers developments rights to Arte Moreno in a lease agreement, that releases the city from its annual $600,000 stadium maintenance obligation. If Mr Moreno agrees to put $150 million into the stadium, the city comes out ahead just in that respect.
Even better is having a billionaire investing his money in developing a property that the city has failed to develop; placing his money rather than taxpayer dollars at risk. I think it is a good deal for the city that the Angel’s owner seeks to right to develop city property (generating jobs and economic opportunity for others in addition to wealth for himself) rather than trying to get taxpayers to foot the bill for stadium improvements; which is S.O.P. in the rest of the country.
Let’s not lose sight that the MOU framework is just that: a framework. It is also a positive, beneficial framework for the people of Anaheim. i think reasonable people, when given the actual facts of the situation, are able to see this and withhold judgment until an actual agreement is brought before the City Council for consideration and public comment.
I also think it is a shame that our Mayor is working so diligently at cross-purposes to the city’s negotiating team. How presenting the Angles with the picture of a divided and fractious City Hall strengthen the city’s bargaining position and help the negotiating team secure the best deal possible for Anaheim taxpayers, which is what the Mayor claims he wants?