If the city of Anaheim strikes a deal with the Angels, one that could bind the two sides to a property development plan that could endure for decades, how long should the City Council and the city’s residents get to review the deal?
To councilman Jose Moreno, 30 days sounds fair. Moreno said he plans to ask his fellow council members to support such a guideline when they discuss the Angels’ lease negotiations during a council meeting Tuesday.
“I’m sure that, when the Angel negotiators and our city negotiators come to an agreement, they’re not going to force [Angels owner] Arte Moreno to say yes or no within two or three days,” said Moreno, who is not related to the owner.
The 30-day window would mitigate one of the factors that ultimately torpedoed a 2013 deal between the city and the Angels.
The framework of the deal, negotiated by city staff and advisers, was disclosed publicly on a Friday and scheduled for a City Council vote the following Tuesday. Tom Tait, then the city’s mayor, objected on two counts: He was horrified at the terms of the agreement, and he was outraged that the public and the City Council would be limited to four days to review a deal that could have tied up city land for as long as 66 years.
“No one is looking to go back to 2013,” city spokesman Mike Lyster said Monday. “We are committed to a public process, with plenty of chances for public input.”
Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said the team would abide by whatever review period the city wished.
“We are absolutely committed to being transparent, if and when there is an agreement,” Garvey said. “We’ll follow the city’s lead.”
The issue of how much time constitutes a fair period of public review has arisen in numerous debates over sports facilities. In Calgary last month, the city council voted to approve $275 million in public funding for a new arena for the NHL Flames. When city councilman Evan Woolley asked why the public could not have more than eight days to review a deal that was more than a year in the making, the city manager said the team and the city negotiators had agreed to a firm date for the vote.
“We engage Calgarians more broadly and deeply on public toilets than we have on a $275-million investment,” Woolley told the Calgary Herald.
Jose Moreno has expressed concern that Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu is the council’s lone representative on the city’s negotiating committee, given that Sidhu last year received $2,000 in campaign contributions from Angels President John Carpino and $1,600 from Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl, according to city records.
“No political contribution could ever keep me from my duty of fighting for the best deal possible for the residents of Anaheim,” Sidhu said in a statement. “Period.”
Once formal negotiations start — the target date is October — Moreno said he expected that regular updates would be provided to Arte Moreno, the owner of the team.
“We should be operating in the same fashion,” Jose Moreno said. “The owner of our stadium is the people of Anaheim.”
Sidhu said last week that he would ask the Angels to pay “market prices” for any of the Angel Stadium property they might choose to develop, although the council’s reinstatement of the Angels’ lease has restricted the city’s ability to get maximum value for that land. The City Council voted last fall to commission an appraisal for the property and make that appraisal public, although the city now says the appraisal will be released only after the conclusion of negotiations.
When the city last year negotiated a new lease with the NHL Ducks, the council discussed the negotiations behind closed doors four times, starting in January. The city released the framework of the deal on Oct. 19, including a provision that the team name remain the Anaheim Ducks.
The Angels have said Anaheim will not return to their team name, a condition to which Sidhu has not objected.
In the Ducks deal, the city released the actual documents — including the appraisal — on Nov. 16.
On Nov. 20, the council voted to approve the deal, 6-1. Moreno cast the lone dissenting vote — not because he disliked the deal, he said, but because he did not believe there had been a sufficient number of community forums to discuss it.