New bill could force open bidding in future sale of Angel Stadium

Proposed measure, limited to OC, comes as corruption probe continues

Angel Stadium and State Sen.Tom Umberg (Getty)
Angel Stadium and State Sen.Tom Umberg (Getty)

It could soon be open season for affordable housing developers at Angel Stadium.

State Sen.Tom Umberg has responded to the Angel Stadium corruption scandal with a bill that would require any agency to rebid a property it was trying to sell if the state housing department found it had violated the law, the Orange County Register reported.

The upshot: if the City of Anaheim looks again to sell Angel Stadium, the bill would likely force open bidding from affordable housing developers.

Umberg’s bill emerged from the now-aborted sale of Angel Stadium for $320 million to a company led by Angels owner Arte Moreno, and an ongoing federal investigation into city corruption. It would apply only to Orange County, and sunset in 2030.

The state Housing and Community Development Department had handed Anaheim a notice of violation of the Surplus Land Act for failing to negotiate with affordable housing developers before the sale.

Anaheim maintained the law didn’t apply to the stadium deal. The state’s only recourse to break the stalemate would have been to take the city to court.

Umberg, an early critic of the Angel Stadium sale, consulted with Assemblyman Phil Ting, who has written bills to tighten up the Surplus Land Act.

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“He and I concluded that it’s best to close whatever ambiguity may exist, so that there’s real teeth so that HCD can effectively enforce any violation,” Umberg told the newspaper.
The state’s surplus land law requires public agencies that want to sell surplus property to first offer it for the potential development of affordable housing.

If they get any viable housing proposals, they must have good-faith discussions with those bidders. If they can’t reach a deal, they can dispose of the land as they see fit.

The city has argued the stadium deal was covered by another provision of state law, which allows officials to skip the bidding process when selling public property for “economic opportunity.”

Anaheim and the state resolved their dispute with a legal settlement requiring the city to put $96 million from the stadium deal into a fund to build affordable housing. The issue then became moot last month when the sale unraveled after former Mayor Harry Sidhu, who helped negotiate it, was revealed to be under federal investigation for corruption.

[Orange County Register] – Dana Bartholomew

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