Anaheim clears way for stadium sale with $123M for affordable housing

Legal settlement includes $96M fine for violating Surplus Land Act

From left: Harry Sidhu, mayor of Anaheim; Art Moreno, owner, Los Angeles Angels; Rob Bonta, state attorney general (Getty Images, City of Anaheim, iStock)
From left: Harry Sidhu, mayor of Anaheim; Art Moreno, owner, Los Angeles Angels; Rob Bonta, state attorney general (Getty Images, City of Anaheim, iStock)

The City of Anaheim will spend $123 million to build affordable housing as part of a settlement for breaking a state law in its controversial sale of Angel Stadium.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a legal settlement with the Orange County city, saying it violated the Surplus Land Act, which requires land owners to negotiate with developers who want to build affordable housing before a sale, LAist and other news agencies reported.

Instead, Anaheim sold Angel Stadium and the surrounding land to a management company belonging to Angel’s owner Arte Moreno. The California Department of Housing and Community Development in December declared the sale illegal, while Anaheim denies breaking any laws.

Under the deal, $96 million would go into a local housing trust fund to build about 1,000 units of affordable housing elsewhere in Anaheim in the next five years. Another $27 million would go to build up to 466 affordable rental units in buildings around Angel Stadium.

“The funds being invested back into the community here come directly from the sale of Angel Stadium,” Bonta said. “It gets sorely needed affordable housing investment now, not after years of litigation.”

The deal, if approved by a court, would settle charges by the state and allow Moreno and the city to exercise a three-year-old deal that would keep the Angels in Anaheim through 2050 and turn 150-acres around Angel Stadium into a village of homes, shops, restaurants, offices and hotels, while generating tax revenue for Anaheim.

Under the agreement, that amount would be put into the affordable housing trust.

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Anaheim must build nearly 17,500 affordable housing units within the next eight years to meet its state-mandated housing goals. Last fall, Anaheim was reported to be the largest city in Orange County without an affordable housing plan.

The People’s Homeless Task Force Orange County filed a civil lawsuit in 2020 that claimed the stadium sale broke the law. Michael Robbins, president of the organization, said the money Anaheim will likely shell out from the legal settlement will only build a few hundred units of housing in a city that needs thousands.

“This is a worst-case scenario,” Robbins said of the deal.

In March, a judge ruled on the civil lawsuit by deciding not to block the $320-million Angel Stadium sale, now expected to close by the end of the year.

[LAist] – Dana Bartholomew

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