Anaheim has put forth the largest expansion of affordable housing in our city’s history with our plan for the future of Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Yet, from where we stand today, that may not be enough for California.
For months, Anaheim has talked with the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development about moving forward with a stadium site sale and development.
The issue? California’s updated Surplus Land Act covering unneeded government land and a well-intended goal of prioritizing affordable housing.
But with all good intentions there are unintended consequences.
The updated law and its handling by Housing and Community Development has created confusion from San Diego to Oakland.
Seeing more affordable housing is a goal Anaheim shares. We are proud of our track record and our inclusion of affordable homes in the stadium plan from the start.
Still, Housing and Community Development has deemed the plan to be in violation of the Surplus Land Act.
We reject that.
Anaheim has always been aware of and complied with the Surplus Land Act as well as other state laws allowing for the sale of public land.
We determined early on and maintain that the Surplus Land Act simply does not apply to Anaheim’s stadium plan.
It’s a stretch at best to see how 150 acres of city land bound by a long-term lease for professional baseball through 2038 is “surplus.”
This just isn’t the closed school site or other unneeded land for which the Surplus Land Act was really intended.
Instead, Anaheim is looking to sell the stadium site under a state law encouraging local economic development to benefit those we serve.
It’s the definition of economic opportunity under California law.
Today, the site is leased for baseball with a required 12,500 parking spots tying up underutilized land.
With a sale, SRB Management LLC, made up of Angels owner Arte Moreno and family, would develop parking structures and free land for homes, offices, hotels, stores and restaurants.
Land that generates little now for police, fire and community services could bring in as much as $38 million a year for Anaheim’s neighborhoods by 2050.
Affordable housing has always been part of the plan.
The stadium plan, approved in an extensive public process from late 2019 to late 2020, calls for a minimum of 466 affordable apartments and as many as 777.
That alone would be the largest single expansion of affordable housing Anaheim has ever seen.
But we are open to adding even more. The latest offer in consultation with the state called for 518 more affordable homes across Anaheim as part of the project.
That would bring the total number of affordable homes funded by the stadium site plan to 1,295, or the 25 percent level called out in the Surplus Land Act.
An on- and offsite mix would bring the most needed affordable homes sooner, within 10 years rather than over 25.
The offer would utilize development-ready sites without having to wait for parking structures to free stadium land or having to work around baseball operations.
Despite months of positive talks, Housing and Community Development’s current stance is discouraging.
Anaheim is undeterred. For too long, the future of baseball in Anaheim has been an unresolved issue subject to posturing and narrow self-interests.
We have heard loud and clear from our community they want the Angels to stay. Our plan does just that and brings affordable housing, parks and new revenue to serve our neighborhoods.
Yet there are some who do not want to see any deal. You’ll see their influence in misleading, distracting comments about our process, the team’s name or our discussions with the state.
Don’t believe all you hear.
This is a defining moment for Anaheim. We stand committed to our stadium plan and confident in the paths we have ahead of us.
Harry Sidhu is mayor of Anaheim. This article was originally published in the OC Register on December 10, 2021.