Anaheim completes appraisal of Angels stadium land value, won’t let public see it

Good news: The city of Anaheim has finally received its completed appraisal of the value of stadium parking lot land that Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno wants development rights to as part of a new lease deal, after weeks of saying it only had a “draft” version that couldn’t be released to the public. Significantly less good news: The Anaheim city council still won’t release the appraisal to the public, because reasons.

The City Council directed the city staff to make the appraisal “available to both the public and Council,” according to the meeting minutes. On Tuesday, the City Council received the results of the appraisal — then declined to share those results with the public.

After a handful of speakers urged the council to be transparent in its negotiations with the Angels, Councilman Jose Moreno proposed a public presentation of the appraisal next month. He needed three votes out of seven. He got two votes, one of them his own…

None of the council members who opposed Jose Moreno’s proposal explained why — including Stephen Faessel, who voted last November in favor of releasing the appraisal publicly.

This is disturbing, if not exactly shocking: The state of New York, after all, only released its appraisals of public land being provided for an Islanders arena three and a half hours before the final public vote on the plan (and still has only released the executive summaries, not the complete appraisals). And as the Los Angeles Times notes, Anaheim itself kept its appraisal of Ducks arena land under wraps until five days before voting on that team’s new lease deal.

The advantage for public officials of not wanting to release land value figures is obvious: You can negotiate anything you like without anyone in the press or the public trying to kibitz whether you’re getting a fair price or not. This is also why the public might want to consider screaming bloody murder when officials pull this sort of move, since democracy still involves public oversight of elected officials’ actions, at least last I checked.

All of which could still be fine, so long as the Anaheim city council uses its powers to negotiate in secret to strike a deal that gets the best value for the public, while sitting in a room with only Angels execs and no danger of anyone else knowing what they’re talking about until it’s too late to do anything. That’s not impossible — Anaheim didn’t do a terrible job with the Ducks deal under similar circumstances, after all — but still, it would be nice to have more than five days to make sure everything is on the up and up. Let’s just hope the don’t choose to release it, say, the day before Thanksgiving, with the vote the following Monday. (Oh, crap, I probably shouldn’t give them any ideas, should I?)


4 comments on “Anaheim completes appraisal of Angels stadium land value, won’t let public see it

    • You can, but there’s a loophole that governments can withhold appraisals that are the subject of ongoing negotiations.

      Also, I don’t know what the public records request machinery is like in California, but in New York there’s no way you’d get anything back before a likely council vote. I may try anyway, though.

  1. I see that that loophole is the case in California as well:

    “Real Estate Appraisals and Engineering Evaluations

    The PRA requires the disclosure of the contents of real estate appraisals, or engineering or feasibility estimates, and evaluations made for or by a local agency relative to the acquisition of property, or to prospective public supply and construction contracts, but only when all of the property has been acquired or when agreement on all terms of the contract have been obtained.367 By its plain terms, this exemption only applies while the acquisition or prospective contract is pending.”

    https://www.cacities.org/Resources/Open-Government/THE-PEOPLE%E2%80%99S-BUSINESS-A-Guide-to-the-California-Pu.aspx

    So it doesn’t look like there’s a way to get the appraisal before a vote unless the city council releases it.

    • Welcome to America, where people have the right to know what their elected officials are up to the minute it’s too late to actually do anything about it.