Council Approves Agreement With State Greenlighting Deal To Keep Angels, Sell Stadium Site

The Anaheim City Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to approve an agreement with the state Attorney General that greenlight a modified $320 million deal that keeps the Angels in Anaheim until at least 2050 and sells Angel Stadium and the surrounding acreage to an Arte Moreno-led partnership.

Attorney General Rob Bonta and Mayor Harry Sidhu announced the agreement on Monday agreement was announced on Monday by Attorney General Rob Bonta and Mayor Harry Sidhu via a joint online press conference. While leaving the parameters of the deal intact, it modifies the affordable housing component of the deal – increasing the number of units and accelerating their construction. It resolves a dispute between the city and the AG’s office over the stadium sale agreement.

In December 2019, the Anaheim City Council approved an agreement under which the Angels agreed to remain in the city until at least 2050 while selling Angel Stadium and the 153-acre stadium property to SRB Management for $320 million. SRB Management is a business partnership led by Angels owner Arte Moreno.

Two years later, the state Housing and Community Development Department issued a notice of violation, alleging the sale violated the Surplus Land Act. However, the HCD complaint relied on provisions of the law that didn’t come into force until 2020.

The City of Anaheim contested the notice, contending the sale was permitted under state law in effect in December 2019. The city maintained the stadium site was not surplus city land, since it was controlled by the Angels until 2038 under the terms of the team’s lease with Anaheim.

SRB Management purchased the stadium site for a top-end appraised value of $320 million (as determined by a 2019 appraisal commissioned by the city) – getting Anaheim taxpayers out of the stadium ownership business.

SRB would pay with a combination of $150 in cash and $170 million in city-requested community benefits – namely, a $46 million public park and almost $124 million in affordable housing (466 units). These units would be included in the potentially thousands of housing units developed on the site; SRB would have up to 25 years to build them.

SRB management proposes redeveloping the 153-acre stadium site as a mix of housing, offices, hotels, retail and entertainment, and public parks. The development will create 75,000 construction and permanent jobs and ultimately generate more than a billion for the city’s general fund.

SRB Management will have sole financial responsibility for either modernizing the existing stadium or building a new one. There will be no taxpayer subsidies.

Modified Sales Agreement Increases Affordable Housing, Accelerates Its Construction

The stipulated agreement changed the affordable housing component of the sale agreement. Instead of almost $124 million in credit toward the purchase price, SRB will pay Anaheim another $96 in cash, which would be used in a city-controlled affordable housing trust to be low-income housing across the city, instead of being limited to the stadium site. The city must begin construction of those low-income housing developments within five years.

By creating an affordable housing trust with the additional $96 million in cash, the city will be able to leverage those dollars for matching state and federal monies to build approximately 1,000 low-income housing units, according to both the city and the state AG’s office.

SRB Management will still be responsible for developing nearly $28 million of low-income housing on the Angel Stadium site.

Both sides decided an agreement was preferable to long, expensive litigation. Attorney General Bonta characterized the agreement as “a huge win for the people of Anaheim and our state.”

“This proposed stipulated judgment achieves more affordable housing than can be gained under the Surplus Land Act,” said Bonta. “It gets sorely needed to affordable housing investments now – not after years of litigation  – and it ensures judicious use of taxpayer dollars efficiently enforcing the Surplus Land Act without spending years potentially millions of city and state resources litigating these issues.”

“This agreement will bring the largest investment in affordable housing in Anaheim history,” said Mayor Sidhu. “[It] means that working families will see housing they can afford sooner.”

Anaheim, State Agree To Disagree

Deal critics and partisan media such as the Voice of OC are claiming the $96 million is a “fine” and that the stadium sale was and is “illegal.”

In reality, the stipulated agreement leaves that issue unadjudicated. In other words, both the state and the city agree to disagree.

Furthermore, the agreement explicitly states that Anaheim does not admit to any violation of the Surplus Land Act, while the HCD and the AG agree to cease pursuing trying to enforce the notice of violation.

While the $96 million is equivalent to the size of the fine if the state had won its case in court, it is not being paid to the state. It is not a check coming out of the city’s general fund. In effect, the City of Anaheim is moving the $96 million from one pocket to another.

“Let me clear up some unfortunate misinformation,” said Mayor Harry Sidhu during the council meeting. “This is a mutual agreement by Anaheim and the State of California. There is no wrongdoing and no fault, and no conceding of any violation by Anaheim.”

“Our position on the Surplus Land Act has not changed. And our position is strong. The stadium lease for baseball through 2038 is not surplus land. Spending years and millions of dollars in court are not in the best interest of ANaheim or California.”

“There is no fine being paid by Anaheim. Just the opposite. We are receiving $96 million in new cash from buyer SRB.”

Council Votes 5-2 To Approve Agreement

On Tuesday, the council voted 5-2 to approve the stipulated judgment. Mayor Harry Sidhu, Mayor Pro Tem Trevor O’Neil and Councilmembers Steve Faessel, Jose Diaz and Gloria Ma’ae voted in favor of it.  Councilmembers Jose F. Moreno and Avelino Valencia voted against allowing the stadium sale agreement to proceed.

“This is a legacy endowment to the future of affordable housing in Anaheim,” said Mayor Pro Tem O’Neil, praising the agreement for bringing “new money to accelerate the production of affordable housing, at no cost to taxpayers.”

O’Neil took direct aim at critics like Councilman Jose F. Moreno and writers at the Voice of OC.

“It’s easy to mischaracterize what this agreement is but its hard to dispute the facts about it,” said O’Neil. “Simply repeating the same lie doesn’t make it the truth, as many would like.”

“We were not found to have violated the Surplus Land Act. We were not fined. To report otherwise speaks of a political agenda, but that seems to be the purpose of some of our so-called news outlets covering Anaheim.”

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