California public land now battleground in fight over affordable housing

State has cited local authorities for selling swaths of land to for-profit projects without offering to affordable developers

The Oakland Coliseum redevelopment plan (MLB)
The Oakland Coliseum redevelopment plan (MLB)

Public land across California is becoming a battleground between state and local authorities over affordable housing.

California won enforcement rights in 2019 for a 52-year-old law that allows it to track public land deals and levy fines if a local agency fails to prioritize affordable housing development on those sites.

Alameda County’s sale of its share of the Oakland Coliseum to the Oakland Athletics for redevelopment could be the next sale the state challenges with the Surplus Land Act, according to CalMatters.

A lawsuit against the sale spurred a state investigation into the deal. California could fine the county and its taxpayers as much as $25 million.

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Other sports arena redevelopment projects so far are the highest profile targets of the state.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development cited San Diego for failing to offer the Pechanga Arena project site to affordable developers. The city had a choice to accept a penalty of 30 percent of the sale or lease of the land or start the sale process over again and prioritize housing. The City Council decided to start over with the sale process.

In April, the state told Anaheim that it may have violated the Surplus Land Act when it agreed to sell about 153 acres around Angel Stadium to a company affiliated with team owner Arte Moreno without first offering it to affordable developers.

The city is challenging the state’s findings. If unsuccessful, the city could face a $96 million fine or have to restart the sale process.

[LADN] — Dennis Lynch