Former Anaheim mayor tells council that voting for Angels land sale would be “embarrassment,” council likely to vote for it anyway

The Anaheim city council is set to vote tonight on selling $500 million in stadium land to Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno for $150 million plus some promises to build stuff, and one former mayor is not mincing words when it comes to telling councilmembers that they should vote “no”:

In a Sunday letter to Mayor Harry Sidhu and the City Council, Assemblyman Tom Daly (who was mayor from 1992 to 2002) urged them to reconsider the $320 million deal and “avoid the embarrassment and lawsuits that are sure to follow this one-sided deal.”

I would love to tell you more about what Daly said, but the Orange County Register doesn’t link to the letter, and it’s not on Daly’s state assembly website and he doesn’t appear to have a Twitter, so we’ll just have to imagine the rest.

The OCR spoke to two other former Anaheim mayors as well. Curt Pringle, who succeeded Daly at City Hall in 2002, said that getting full market value for the land isn’t an issue because the city “didn’t buy [the stadium site in the 1960s] to be land speculators, they really bought it to be an economic engine,” which would actually seem to be an argument for seeing if any other bidders would present a plan with more economic impact — maybe one without an empty-most-of-the-year baseball stadium in the middle of it. Tom Tait, who succeeded Pringle in 2010 and immediately put a halt to plans to hand over the stadium land for next to nothing, notes that when the city was looking at selling one-third of the parcel for $53 million for an NFL stadium, Sidhu, then a city councilmember, “jumped out in the middle of the press conference and said that land’s worth at least $150 million.”

All of which is very entertaining #drama, but all that really matters is what the members of the council think, and as we saw last December, the majority were happy to sit on their hands while everyone shouted about the deal and then quietly vote to approve it. (Tonight’s meeting will be via Zoom, but local residents can submit comments by email until 2:30 pm Pacific time today.) Two incumbents, Denise Barnes and Steve Faessel, are up for reelection in November, but Barnes was actually one of the two no votes already, so even fear of facing angry constituents at the polls isn’t likely to do much to sway the council’s decision. Maybe it can be reversed later with lawsuits? Or, even better, with embarrassment? Man, would it be a great world if that worked.

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2 comments on “Former Anaheim mayor tells council that voting for Angels land sale would be “embarrassment,” council likely to vote for it anyway

  1. The new and enlightened council appears to understand what their role is: to deliver the greatest subsidy possible to the wealthiest residents (or non residents, in some cases) of their districts and to hell with everyone else.

    It’s not really that different than what federal and state governments are doing the world over, is it?

  2. Hi Neil, thanks for joining the Voice of OC workshop on this swindle. I managed to get a copy of Assemblyman Tom Daly’s letter, and it’s really good. It’s maddening though that he still (as a Democrat!) endorses all the politicians that are responsible for this swindle, most of whom are Republicans, and refuses to back the grassroots candidates who want to undo the deal and are mostly Democrats. Still I’m not used to hearing sense from Tom Daly, and THIS is sensible:

    Sept. 27, 2020

    To Anaheim Mayor and City Councilmembers:

    Because it is an outrageously one-sided deal, I am opposed to the pending agreement to sell the stadium property to a company apparently controlled by Angels owner Arte Moreno.

    It is my firm belief – shared by many expert professionals in real estate and city finance – that this deal gives away hundreds of millions of dollars of Anaheim taxpayer money.

    For residents outside of Anaheim, this deal looks like a sad joke of self-inflicted bumbling and false choices. It does them no financial harm. But for Anaheim residents – who own the valuable stadium property – this is a massive, historic giveaway costing at least $1,000 for every man, woman and child in the city.
    Here are just some of the problems with this deal:

    1. Property Undervalued. In recent years, provisions of the Angels lease were manipulated so as to undervalue the property. Menawhile, the city-sponsored appraisal of value was manipulated to lower the cost to the buyer.

    2. Shrinking Sales Price. Why are Anaheim taxpayers reimbursing $169 million to the buyer/developer (“credits”) for features such as a park and affordable housing, when these items are ALWAYS the responsibility of any developer (especially one who’s receiving approval for 5.175 housing units!)

    3. Mysterious Removal of City Manager. Under mysterious circumstances midway through the negotiations, the city manager was forced out of his job and paid a $475,000 buyout.

    4. “Saving Baseball.” Underpinning the negotiations has been a laughingly false narrative about “saving” major league baseball in Anaheim. Sensible folks know this is just leveraging and posturing.

    It’s not too late to reconsider the price and terms, and avoid the embarrassment and lawsuits that are sure to follow this one-sided deal. Anaheim residents deserve a better deal, and a fair deal.

    Tom Daly
    State Assemblymember
    69th District.

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