A judge has issued a preliminary ruling against a local gadfly group’s Brown Act lawsuit seeking to void a deal in which Angel’s owner Arte Moreno would buy the stadium stile and keep the team in Anaheim until 2050. Judge David Hoffer unequivocally ruled against the People’s Homeless Task Force’s contention that the deal violated the Brown Act, stating that the city “substantially complied” with the state’s open government law when negotiating the agreement.
Judge Hoffer also dismissed as “not credible” declarations by current Councilman Jose F. Moreno and former City Manager Chris Zapata that the Anaheim City Council had decided to sell the stadium during closed session meetings in August and September.
“The discussions and decision surrounding the sale of the stadium site were anything but secret and were fully vetted with the public,” Judge Hoffer wrote.
Both parties have 10 days to comment on the judge’s ruling.
You can read the decision here.
The judge’s ruling dissolves a legal question mark hanging over the stadium deal, which – in addition to keeping the Angels in Anaheim until 2050 – makes the Arte Moreno-led SRB Management solely responsible for financing modernizing the existing stadium or building a new one.
The city had vigorously rejected the entirety of the lawsuit, and was understandably exultant that Judge Hoffer’s ruling “denies (the lawsuit) in its entirety.”
“This initial decision is the right decision,” Mayor Harry Sidhu said. “This validates that the stadium sale was an extensive public process with community input and debate. We look forward to a final decision and moving ahead with a plan for the future of baseball in Anaheim that will generate revenue for our residents and neighborhoods for years to come.”
In December 2019, the Anaheim City Council voted 5-2 to approve the agreement to sell the stadium for the appraised value of $320 million to SRB Management, a business partnership led by team owner Arte Moreno. SRB would pay $150 million in cash and the other $170 million in city-requested community benefits such as affordable housing units and public parks.
SRB intends to develop the site to build office space, thousands of residential units, and an entertainment and dining district.