Stadium Lot Appraisal: CATER Was Right, Tait Was Right, OJB Was Right


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Stadium Lot delineating 154-acre parcel

Everything within the yellow border (except Angels Stadium itself) was to be given away to Angels owner Arte Moreno for 66-99 years, for a lease of as little as $1/year. Until today, the City of Anaheim didn’t even know what the land was worth. Now, the report has come in. (Image from the report by Waronzof Associates, leaked early to the City’s blogger.)

The parting gift from former City Manager Marcie Edwards to the City of Anaheim was to arrange for a qualified and professional appraisal of the 154-acre lot surrounding Angels Stadium.  The development rights to this parcel have been slated to be given to Angels owner Arte Moreno, as part of a package with the new lease on the Stadium itself, for a nominal fee.  (The tentative “placeholder” figure was $1/year, but even a price many times that would not necessarily change the fundamentals.)  Moreno would then be able to assign (think of it as being like a sublease) this land to developers — he isn’t one himself — for at least 66 years and possibly more like 99 years.

The City, by its own omission, had no idea what the land was worth.  The estimate from Charles Black – the “external staffer” who apparently and without fanfare resigned in March after making $100,000 “representing” the City as its Chief Negotiator with the Angels and brokering the now-disgraced CS&L Report on the value of Angels Baseball to Anaheim — had suggested a figure of perhaps as low as $30 million.

Now we have a decent estimate (warning, that links to a PDF): it is worth from $220 million to over $300 million.  That’s a public asset — one that Anaheim’s General Fund will desperately need in the future.

The Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, or CATER, was formed shortly after this plan was slammed through with minimal public notice after the 2013 Labor Day weekend.  (I’m General Counsel for the group — a fact cited as critical and damning to many of those who voted to remove me from the leadership of the Democratic Party of Orange County this past Monday.  I don’t feel particularly damned by it today!)

CATER is (and thus I am) involved in litigation on this issue right now, so I can’t comment on it the way that I would prefer.  But I will say this: eight months ago today — just after Cynthia Ward called me and Brian Chuchua about the details of the agenda item, and while we were literally and desperately trying to round up anyone we could, homeless people include, to take part in a “citizens filibuster” of the next evening’s Anaheim City Countil meeting so that we could slow down the process enough to understand what was going on — this was a done deal.  We had no expectation that we could stop it, or do more than just slow it down enough to examine carefully.  The political insiders were laughing at the political insurgents, whose only ally at the time inside the city government was the city’s Mayor, Tom Tait.

Four weeks later, the four-person Anaheim City Council majority — led in this effort by the sole Democrat on the City Council, Jordan Brandman — tried to strip Mayor Tait of his power to put any item on the agenda without the permission of at least one person in the majority.  That was, his now-Mayoral-opponent Lucille Kring admitted, primarily a response to his attempt to roll back the approval of the lease agreements approved on Sept. 3.  Tait outfoxed the majority by, prior to the possibility of his power being stripped, scheduling the Angels negotiations as an agenda item for every third meeting until negotiations were completed.  That act allowed the City Council to later consider and approve this appraisal.

I can’t adequately express how close Anaheim taxpayers came to not knowing the value of what they were giving away prior to doing so — and how relatively few of us stood in the way.  And now it is clear that we were right to urge caution and transparency.  It’s a great day both for Anaheim, for transparency, and for government accountability.


About Greg Diamond

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney and General Counsel of CATER. His anti-corruption work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, leading them to work with the Democratic Party of Orange County Chair and other co-conspirators (who had long detested the internal oversight his presence provided) to remove him from the position of DPOC North Vice Chair of in violation of party rules and any semblance of due process. He also runs for office sometimes. Unless otherwise specifically stated, none of his writings prior to that lawless putsch ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Beautiful Bountiful Brea, but while he may brag about it he generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for candidates including Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and (except where noted) without compensation.