Anaheim Councilmembers voted 4-2 late Friday evening to begin the Angel Stadium land sale process, despite calls from numerous residents and two councilmembers to get a concrete final price tag.
Millions could be shaved off the $325 million price tag for the 153-acre stadium land, which prompted Councilmembers Denise Barnes and Jose Moreno to vote no. Councilman Jordan Brandman was out sick.
Despite numerous questions from residents about the final price during at least four hours of public comment and Barnes and Moreno, city staff couldn’t say what the final sales price would be.
“We need more time to conduct due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers who own Angel stadium and the surrounding high value real estate. The deadline is up to us and we have the power to change it and take the pressure of all the parties. The big word is rush. Why is this a rush? The sale is huge,” Barnes said to her colleagues.
Councilwoman Lucille Kring said the sale proposal gets the city out from running the stadium “this is a good deal.”
“They want to do what’s right for the property, after all they’re going to be the owners,” Kring said. “Hotels, restaurants, bars. That’s where the money comes from. The money does not come from housing…the more housing you do, the more services are required. But that is up to them.”
The City Council is expected to hammer out community benefits and workforce agreements next spring, which will reduce the total price tag of the land because it will count as price credits for SRB Management, the LLC buying the land.
The only known member of SRB is Angels owner Arte Moreno. City staff, through council questioning, said they don’t know who the other partners are and are confident Moreno controls the company, despite not having it in writing.
During over four hours of public comment on the land sale proposal, many residents expressed concern over the unknown final price tag on the stadium.
Anaheim real estate broker Paul Kott said the city’s assertion the land is being sold at market rate is bogus.
“It wasn’t an open sale. It wasn’t a competitive market. It was appraised for one buyer, one purpose. This in no way is fair market value. This fails the test,” Kott told the Council during public comment.
He also criticized the deal for having a price ceiling, $325 million, but not a floor.
“We could end up owing the Angels money. Did you know this?” Kott said.
Assemblyman Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), a former mayor, and state Sen. Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) sent a Thursday letter urging the City Council to delay voting on the sale proposal until the city can figure out the final price tag.
“We have heard from many citizens concerned that the proposed sale price – and rumored credits on the ultimate purchase price – may not be in the best interest of the taxpayers of Anaheim. Without knowing the final terms and conditions of the eventual sale, including the role the City will play in shaping the development of the land, how can the taxpayers of Anaheim know if the proposed sale achieves the maximum financial value for the City?” wrote Daly and Umberg.
“Understanding the maximum appraisal for the property was approximately $500 million, how can the city calculate the final return from the sale without the ultimate details of land development and community benefits?” the lawmakers wrote.
Mayor Harry Sidhu, reading from a prepared statement, responded to critics of the deal.
“For those who are saying the land is worth more than $325 million, today is the moment of truth. We cannot see a value of $500 million, as some have said, and have baseball. We can only see that kind of value with no stadium, no Angels and many more buildings on this land. It comes down to a simple question: Do we want to see baseball continue in Anaheim or not?”
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio.