Anaheim City Council Hears Brief City Mgm't Update On Its Negotiations With Angels; An Anaheim Councilmember Says Anaheim Should Put Its Residents First, Shouldn't Let Angels Pressure City of Anaheim By Negotiating With City Of Long Beach
|(Mar. 20, 2019, 8:55 a.m.) -- With City of Long Beach management publicly acknowledging "ongoing conversations" with the Angels regarding a potential sports venue in downtown Long Beach, the Anaheim City Council approved receiving periodic updates from its city management when appropriate on negotiations with the Angels.
During March 19 Anaheim Council discussion of monthly updates sought by Councilman Jose Moreno, Councilman Moreno publicly cautioned his Anaheim Council colleagues not to let the Angels use negotiations with the City of Long Beach to pressure the City of Anaheim. Councilman Moreno said the City should put Anaheim residents first in dealing with the MLB ball club (that has played at Anaheim stadium since 1966 and Moreno said he hopes will continue to do so.) With its long-term contract to use Anaheim stadium set to expire in 2019, the team signed a one-year extension to do so through 2020 while conducting non-exclusive negotiations with the City of Anaheim and hiring a real estate consultant to explore potential development opportunities for the site.
Anaheim City Manager Chris Zapata told the Council that on March 18, the Angels met with Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu "to get an update on them on where they were and what they were thinking in terms of hiring their consultant [on potential future development of the site.] The meeting included Anaheim city staff, Anaheim Mayor Sidhu, his chief of staff, the Angels president, legal counsel and chief financial officer and business representative. Noting that the Angels have hired a consultant, Brooks Street [a Newport Beach real estate consulting firm] to conduct an appraisal of the site, Anaheim's city manager said: "One of the things that was made clear to us is that the team hired the consultant "to work with the project proposal in the City of Anaheim, which is significant in that it is in the City of Anaheim where he's working, not in other places. It's also important to note that through Mr. Moreno's ownership of this team, this is the first significant development approach and firm that he's hired to work on a proposal."
Anaheim city management indicated the City went through a similar process with the Anaheim Ducks (including an appraisal) that ultimately ended with an agreement with that team. "This is very early in the game but the home team is batting now and we are waiting to see what the proposal from the Angels may be and that should come "within two to three to four months," the city manager said. Anaheim city staff also indicated the Angels expect to have their appraisal in 90-120 days and the City is pushing the team to provide its appraisal sooner than later.
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In an accompanying Anaheim city staff memo accompanying the "receive and file" agenda item, the City's Executive Director of its Convention, Sports and Entertainment Department, Tom Morton, wrote:
Council Member Jose Moreno has requested that Staff agendize an update on negotiations with Angels Baseball on a monthly basis.
Following city management's brief update, Councilman Moreno said (addressing city staff and inviting comments from his Council colleagues):
I would ask you to please not panic. Let's not be fooled into believing that we're negotiating against another city. We may well be but let's not reduce our offer or our work to make sure that our residents are first, Mr. Mayor, that our residents are first." Councilman Moreno said he had favored exclusive negotiations (which Anaheim Mayor Sidhu didn't support) and didn't happen, and "Little did we know that during that process Long Beach probably reached out to the Angels, I don't know if they informed you of that Mr. Mayor because they were negotiating with Long Beach as they were telling you they wanted to stay here when you voted against exclusive negotiations. So I just want to reaffirm and hope other Councilmembers might join in the chorus of saying we will not fall prey to negotiation tactics of competing against other cities and therefore reducing the benefit of this asset to our neighbors and to our residents.
Councilman Jordan Brandman said he voted on January 15 "in favor of opening negotiations and my vote was in good faith, expecting the absolutely good faith of the people we were negotiating with. Long Beach was tough. We voted on January 15. The Long Beach City Council heard this in closed session on February 5. That was stunning to me. Now I still believe in good faith. I think it's fair and I also understand it is our intent to hopefully get this done by the end of summer..."
The Long Beach City Council held a closed session on Feb. 5 whose publicly released agenda didn't disclose or otherwise indicate discussion or negotiations with the Angels. Apart from three visibly unrelated items, the only other item on the Long Beach City Council's Feb. 5 closed session agenda was "Pursuant to Section 54956.8 of the California Government Code regarding a conference with the City's real property negotiator" on "price and terms of purchase" regarding "121-129 Elm Avenue" with negotiating parties identified as the City of Long Beach and Southern California Edison.
CA Government Code section 54956.8 (part of the Brown (open meetings) Act) provides in pertinent part:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a legislative body of a local agency may hold a closed session with its negotiator prior to the purchase, sale, exchange, or lease of real property by or for the local agency to grant authority to its negotiator regarding the price and terms of payment for the purchase, sale, exchange, or lease.
In an emailed response to LBREPORT.com, the Long Beach City Attorney's office declined to say if the Angels weren't discussed in the closed session, stating only that it wouldn't comment on what was discussed in the closed session.
A few hours prior to the Anaheim public Council item, the Long Beach City Council held a closed session that LB city management says involved "ongoing conversations" with the Angels regarding a potential sports venue in downtown Long Beach but was publicly agendized to discuss with LB city management negotiation with "Shoreline Investments, LLC" of the price and terms of purchase and/or lease of City-owned property south of E. Seaside Way, west of Pine Ave. and north and west of E. Shoreline Dr. and the Pacific Ocean (including the "Elephant Lot and Marina Green.") [LBREPORT.com has questioned whether as agendized the item raises Brown (open meetings) Act issues.]
LBREPORT.com has also noted that LB City Hall's "conversations" with the Angels are a major change from the City's position roughly two years ago when it said in a matter that the "Elephant Lot" site was unavailable for use as a publicly accessible pool.
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