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Illegal Sale of Angel Stadium Contributes $94 Million Toward Affordable Housing in Anaheim

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The city of Anaheim illegally sold the Angel Stadium and now faces the repercussions of a $96 million fine, which will be used toward affordable housing. 

Anaheim City Council faced accusations of violating the Surplus Land Act from the sale of and around the Angels Stadium ballpark.

Angel Stadium was originally owned by the city of Anaheim but now belongs to Arte Moreno, the owner of the major league baseball team, the Los Angeles Angels. This sale concluded with a price tag of nearly $320 million. 

A breakdown of the sale, provided by ABC7 News, is listed as $150 million for city improvement projects, $50 million for a new city park stadium, nearly $30 million for affordable housing on stadium grounds, $1 million for maintenance around the stadium and $96 million toward affordable housing throughout Anaheim within five years. Building affordable housing was originally a job set for 25 years, according to the city of Anaheim City Council Staff Report.

With new ownership of Angel Stadium, plans to either renovate or build an entirely new stadium will be up to Moreno, in accordance with the promise to build new affordable housing around the surrounding area and throughout Anaheim. 

Following the sale of the stadium, Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu reassured his residents that this money was considered “new” money because it would not come from taxpayers directly.

Although the idea of new housing opportunities sounds pleasant to residents amid California’s housing crisis, the violation of California’s Surplus Land Act has raised concerns about Anaheim’s City Council members.

Moreno first participated in the sale of Angels Stadium with the plan to build 1,000 units of affordable housing but many can see this is just a cover-up for the violation he committed. 

The California Department of Housing and Community Development found Anaheim in violation of the Surplus Act, which states that public land must be put up for sale and first offered to affordable housing developers. To counter, the city argued that it had not violated the law, claiming the land should not be considered surplus due to the Angels actively playing on it and 15% of the land will now be used for affordable housing development, according to the Staff Report provided. 

“This agreement means working families will see housing they can afford sooner,” Sidhu told the Los Angeles Times. “We will not have to wait on development at the stadium, or workaround baseball seasons.”

On Tuesday, April 24, a special meeting was called by Sidhu regarding the settlement. Council members voted for approval in the use of $96 million toward the affordable housing fund rather than take the violation to court for the remaining price tag. Ultimately, councilmembers voted 5-2. 

Councilors Jose Moreno and Avelino Valencia voted against the settlement, questioning why Sidhu wanted such a rushed voting process and expressing concern that residents only had 24 hours to review the plan as well. 

“By agreeing to the stipulated judgment, the stadium land can finally be developed into a host of establishments that will bring jobs and more tax revenue into the city” Councilwoman Gloria Ma’ae said to Voice of OC. “We have a piece of land the size of Disneyland with nothing on it other than a stadium right now. We get to keep our Angels and we get to develop this property, so it’s a definite positive.” 

Julia Spencer is a City News Intern for the 2022 spring quarter. She can be reached at jkspence@uci.edu