TimesOC: Anaheim faces lawsuit, state violations for Angel Stadium deal
Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.
It’s Friday, Jan. 14. I’m Ben Brazil, bringing you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.
The fallout over the controversial Angel Stadium deal will continue to play out over the next month as a lawsuit filed by a citizens’ group moves forward.
The lawsuit, filed by the People’s Homeless Task Force, will go to trial on Feb. 14. Separately, California’s housing agency declared the Angel Stadium deal illegal in early December. The city will have to rectify that issue by Feb. 6, reporter Bill Shaikin wrote this week.
The city came to the controversial agreement last year to sell 150 acres and Angel Stadium to team owner Arte Moreno’s company SRB Management for $150 million in cash. The deal also includes about $170 million of “community benefits credits” for 466 affordable housing units and a seven-acre park.
The state agency said Anaheim violated the Surplus Land Act by not classifying the land as surplus, not making the land available to other developers and not letting the agency know about the availability of the land and negotiations with Moreno. State law requires cities to first offer public land to affordable housing developers before proceeding with another developer.
In the lawsuit, the group contends that the sale had five violations of the Brown Act, which requires government business to be transparent. The task force believes that “all the deal points [had] been negotiated in secret.” As Shaikin wrote, the most notable transgression was Anaheim’s failing to provide timely public notification that the land would be sold.
Shaikin wrote that the City Council has not addressed the issue at either of its last two meetings, but city staff met Tuesday with representatives of the state agency to discuss options for putting the property up for bid.
The city remains “confident in our entire process, including appropriate closed session briefings,” Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said in a statement on Thursday. “Some simply don’t want to see a stadium agreement go forward for their own reasons, and this claim and much around it reflects that. People are entitled to their views. But just because something doesn’t go your way does not make it unlawful.”
The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District board meetings have been filled with people railing against masks and vaccines. As my colleague Gabriel San Román pointed out this week, those public speakers have a lot in common with the board members. In July, a majority of the board voted in favor of pressuring state officials to make masks optional in schools. This week, the board was set to consider approval of a resolution asking the state to rescind its forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento announced this week his candidacy for a new Latino-majority district seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Sarmiento has served on the council for about 14 years, prioritizing the improvement of social inequities in the low-income communities of Santa Ana.
A Huntington Beach school district will demolish a former school building that has sat largely vacant since the 1980s. The Park View School area has also been a magnet for graffiti and loitering. Ocean View School Board president Gina Clayton-Tarvin called the site a “blight” on the city.
A legal ruling will allow Hoag Memorial Hospital to break from a rocky partnership with Providence St. Joseph Health, reclaim local control and expand its reproductive health services. As part of the agreement, Hoag will also provide specialty care to LGBTQ+ patients.
Laguna Beach will continue to hold virtual meetings at least until February as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout Orange County. The city’s boards, commissions and committees will continue to meet virtually as well. “As you know, the COVID numbers continue to increase,” Laguna Beach City Manager Shohreh Dupuis said. “The mask mandate now has been extended by the governor to Feb. 15. We do have on a weekly basis a significant number of our employees also continuing to test positive for COVID.”
LIFE AND LEISURE
Dressember has raised over $13 million for human trafficking survivors through resourcing prevention, advocacy, intervention and survivor empowerment programs simultaneously. The local nonprofit also holds a style challenge every December where participants can pledge to wear a dress every day in December to raise awareness. Thousands have taken part in the challenge.
Earlier this week, my colleague Sarah Mosqueda braved the Omicron surge to attend “My Fair Lady” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. In the beforetimes, this wouldn’t have been a risk to one’s health. Now, as detailed by Mosqueda, the theater is going through a number of protocols to protect attendees from COVID-19.
Newport Beach philanthropists donated $50 million toward a wildlife corridor in the Tehachapi Mountains. The Nature Conservancy’s newest preserve, the Frank and Joan Randall Preserve, will be named after the benefactors. As my colleague Lilly Nguyen wrote, conservationists believe the land will help preserve a wildlife corridor between Northern and Southern California for rare and endangered species to navigate through.
Orange County’s literary scene could get a boost with the launch of “Citric Acid,” a new online literary journal debuting this weekend. Headed by Andrew Tonkovich, a recently retired UC Irvine English lecturer and author, the journal will introduce the “best of Orange County.”
The Huntington Beach High girls’ soccer team was able to be the first team to defeat Corona del Mar this week. Corona del Mar was leading by a goal at the half, but Huntington Beach was able to shift gears. It paid off quickly, with the team equalizing within the first couple minutes of the second half. They then scored again to claim the victory.
Here’s a roundup of high school sports scores from Orange County’s coastal cities, including Edison boys’ basketball beating Laguna Beach. Corona del Mar also claimed a victory over Huntington Beach.
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