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Housing and Homelessness

Controversial Angel Stadium Sale Leads To Deal For Affordable Housing In Anaheim

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Angels Stadium in Anaheim
(Ben Campney
/
LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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California Attorney General Rob Bonta has announced a settlement with Anaheim over the controversial sale of Angel Stadium that would compel the city to spend more than $120 million to build affordable housing.

Bonta told a press conference Monday that Anaheim violated the Surplus Land Act, which requires land owners to negotiate with developers who want to build affordable housing before a sale.

Instead, Anaheim sold Angel Stadium and the surrounding land for a fraction of its worth directly to a management company belonging to Arte Moreno, the Angels’ owner.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development said the sale was illegal last December.

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Bonta said if the Anaheim City Council and a court approve the settlement, Anaheim has to dedicate over $123 million dollars to affordable housing. The council is expected to take up the issue at its Tuesday meeting, according to a statement from the city.

Under the deal, approximately $96 million would be put into a local housing trust fund to build affordable housing in the next five years. An additional $27 million would be earmarked to build up to 466 rental units in the buildings for very low or low income tenants.

“The funds being invested back into the community here come directly from the sale of Angel Stadium,” Bonta said.

“It gets sorely needed affordable housing investment now, not after years of litigation.”

Housing Advocates Are Not Pleased

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said he welcomed the agreement, adding he believed that no other city in Orange County had done more around affordable housing.

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“They estimate that this agreement would bring 1,000 new affordable homes to our city within the next five years,” he said.

But the city needs thousands of units of affordable housing and it was criticized last fall for being the largest city in Orange County to not have an affordable housing plan. Housing advocates in the region say there is too much market rate housing being built when the state mandates that the city build over 17,000 units of affordable housing over the next several years.

The People’s Homeless Task Force Orange County filed a lawsuit in 2020 that claimed the stadium sale broke the law. Michael Robbins, the organization's president, said the money Anaheim will likely shell out from the judgment will only build a few hundred units of housing in a city that needs thousands.

“This is a worst case scenario,” he said.

A 2020 UC Berkeley study found that it cost roughly $425,000 per unit to build 100 units of affordable housing in 2016.

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“They sold the land for $150 million behind closed doors with no open discussions about it, and the land is worth $1 billion,” Robbins said in an interview after the plan was announced.

“It’s a slap on the wrist. I’m not sure why the AG isn’t prosecuting these guys,” he said.

The deal to sell the stadium actually totaled $320 million; $150 million in cash and $170 million in the form of a city park and 466 units of affordable apartments.

What questions do you have about criminal justice in Southern California? 
Emily Elena Dugdale covers smaller police departments around Southern California, school safety officers, jails and prisons, and juvenile justice issues. She also covers the LAPD and the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.