Troublesome motel in Anaheim to be converted into affordable housing

The exterior of the Tampico Motel
Under Anaheim’s motel conversion program passed in 2019, the 32-room Tampico Motel will become an affordable housing site after Anaheim pledged to purchase the half-acre property for $5.3 million.
(Kevin Chang / Times Community News)

Just three miles from Angel Stadium, the chance to bring more affordable housing to Anaheim arrived with less political acrimony than recent plans for the stadium site.

During the same Anaheim City Council meeting where disagreements aired over the approval of a $96-million settlement with the state over the Surplus Land Act, the stadium sale and affordable housing, council members more plainly decided the fate of a run-down motel last week.

For decades, Tampico Motel has stood along State College Boulevard as an east Anaheim eyesore.


But under the city’s motel conversion program passed in 2019, the 32-room motel will soon become an affordable housing site after Anaheim pledged to purchase the half-acre property for $5.3 million.

State Sen. Tom Umberg helped earmark $5.5 million in state funds for the city to use this fiscal year in such a manner.

The Anaheim Housing Authority originally sought to acquire the 26-room Kona Inn on Brookhurst Street last year using the funding secured but couldn’t come to an agreed-upon selling price with the owner.

City staff identified Tampico Motel as an alternate site; it will be Anaheim’s third motel conversion project since the start of the program, which is similar to the state’s Project Homekey effort.

“The Tampico Motel presents an opportunity to acquire a site at a reasonable price, and it is larger than the site that we were initially slated to buy,” Grace Ruiz-Stepter, executive director of the Anaheim Housing Authority, told council members during the April 26 meeting. “We do know from our colleagues in law enforcement that the property is the subject of some concerns regarding potential nuisance uses.”

A sign for Tampico Motel
Councilman Stephen Faessel said the Tampico Motel “has been the focus of police actions for decades.”
(Gabriel San Román / Times Community News)

Councilman Stephen Faessel, who represents the district where the motel is located, described the East Terrace neighborhood behind it as being “under siege.”

“You were too kind in the adjectives you used about that property,” Faessel told Ruiz-Stepter. “This is a huge, huge win for State College [Boulevard]. The Tampico has been the focus of police actions for decades.”

Before voting, Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu also welcomed the acquisition.

“This property is close to popular restaurants, shopping [and] services to the community,” he said. “It is also in a major intersection. State College Boulevard needs and deserves some attention.”


Once Anaheim completes the purchase of the motel, it will issue a request for developers to submit plans for converting and rehabilitating the site for affordable housing.

Anaheim will also help cover the relocation costs of long-term Tampico Motel residents.

Though too early in the process, Ruiz-Stepter believed a “prime use” for the property would be a conversion to senior housing similar to El Verano Apartments, which was built at the site of the former Sandman Motel and now serves formerly homeless and at-risk seniors.

“The affordable housing development community is very creative,” she added, “and they often exceed our expectations.”

At the end of a brief discussion, council members unanimously approved the motel purchase.