What Fresh Hell is This Angel’s Stadium Lot Agenda Item (If Any)? Also PULL ITEM 3 to Ask Disney Questions!


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What might once have elicited terror — an Angels sycophant negotiating “on behalf of the City” with the Angels — now can be greeted with calm. (We hope.)  Or could it be even better than that?

Talk about your “triggering events”!  Paul Emery negotiating with the Angels about their lease appears on the closed session agenda for tomorrow’s Anaheim City Council meeting:

  1. CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATORS

            (Section 54956.8 of the California Government Code)

            Property: 2000 East Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA (Angels Stadium of Anaheim), associated/adjacent parking lots and other property collectively identified as APNs 232-011-02, 06, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 47, 48, 50 and portions of Parcels 1 and 2 of Parcel Map No. 2006-262, recorded in the Office of the County Recorder in Book 357, Pages 25 through 34 of Parcel  Maps, Orange County, California (as depicted on diagram available at the office of the City Clerk)

Real Property Negotiator: Paul Emery, City Manager

Negotiating Parties: Angels Baseball, LP, City of Anaheim

Under Negotiation: Price and Terms of Payment Regarding Lease

It’s only been three-and-a-half years since a map much like that one ushered in the craziness of the “Lease Negotiation Crisis” — wherein a subcommittee led by Kris Murray turned the negotiations with the Angels over renewal of the lease of Angels Stadium into a much more involved project involving a long-long-term lease of the Stadium Grounds (the parking lots and such surrounding the stadium) for a price as low as a placeholder $1 per year.  (The City Council, under the old majority, didn’t even know how much the land was worth at the time.)

If Dr. Jose Moreno had lost to Jordan Brandman last fall, leaving the old majority in control, this agenda item would have led to a five-alarm fire drill.  As interest waxes regarding the 2018 Council elections — and the Mayor’s race — let’s never forget how narrowly Anaheim dodged a bullet.

As it is, it leads one to wonder whether one of the smarter ideas on the topic — offered by Mayor Tait, of course, in that dreary two years — might be under consideration in these closed sessions (the first one was at the previous Council meeting): approval of work on some sort of joint venture in which the City and the Angels jointly build a parking structure, sharing proportionally in the revenues and satisfying the obligations to Arte Moreno under the lease, freeing up other space for development and perhaps even easing the burden on the neighboring apartments.  (A city can dream, right?)

(By the way, there’s a funny story out about Charles Black, who was a major figure at the time of the earlier negotiations — but I think that Cynthia gets to be the one to tell it.)

There are Short Term Rental policies up for discussion, but our OJB Brain Trust has not analyzed them.  (Perhaps some member of the Robbins family would like to weigh in?)  The real question here is: how much money is Jordan Brandman’s impetuous move to have the city officially recognize the murky and dicey STRs going to end up costing the city and its residents before all is said and done?  It’s been a no-win situation since the city decided to “solve” the problem to get some quick revenue without adequately studying what should have been done.

The agenda item that caught my attention, though is one in the consent calendar:

Item #3, Determine, on the basis of the evidence submitted by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc., that the property owner has complied in good faith with the terms and conditions of Development Agreement No. 96-01 for the 2016 review period for the Disneyland Resort project.

The 1996 agreement, faithful (and extremely thorough) readers of this blog may recall, is the one that set up the construction of the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure, for which Anaheim residents continue to pay on the ginormous bond.   The City was supposed to get some things other than jobs and bits of charity for funding the gargantuan parking behemoth: according to Cynthia Ward’s research, it was to get a portion of the parking fees and a shuttle service to the Convention Center.  There hasn’t seemed to be evidence of either — nor, based on an admittedly cursory review, do these areas of consideration seem to appear anywhere on Disney’s report.  It’s like they’re not even in the document.

City Council members should ask the pertinent questions and get to the bottom of this.  Now that we have a Council majority that isn’t of the “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” persuasion, they should make sure that they (and we) understand just what the City was supposed to be getting out of the 1996 — and find out whether Anaheim is getting all of it!  And if performance on any contractual obligations was ever excused, we should know when, why, and by whom.

Look, chances are that all of this will have a perfectly reasonable and benign explanation.  But we ought to know what that explanation is.  At this point, if those contractual considerations exist for the City’s guaranteeing repayment of the bond, we should be able to identify them and track them down.  Before this item is passed — and of course the item can be continued if more research is required to get answers — the Council should understand everything well enough that it can answer all of Cynthia’s questions about the agreement as well as everyone else’s.

This is not a hostile stance towards Disney; that is what you do with contracts.  And settling any doubts about what the agreement was designed to do for the city and whether it has happened is exactly what this annual review process is for.  The Council should not short-circuit it.  We all hope (I hope) that all is in order.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)