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Surplus Land Act Signed into Law in OC

Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill designed to prevent cities in Orange County from unlawfully selling surplus land that is in violation of State affordable housing laws. This is in response to the fallout from Anaheim's debacle in trying to sell Angel Stadium.

The legislation, authored by State Senator Tom Umberg, affects solely Orange County and will expire in 2030. An earlier version of the bill encompassed the entire state, but it was narrowed down to just Orange County over the past 18 months due to persistent lobbying by various local government entities, including cities, counties, and special districts.

Under the new law, if a city within Orange County receives a Surplus Land Act violation notice from the California Department of Housing and Community Development in relation to a planned land sale, that sale cannot proceed until the violation is rectified. The Surplus Land Act mandates that affordable housing and open space be given precedence when local governments sell excess properties, offering affordable developers the first opportunity to bid for the land.

“At the very least, the people of Anaheim and Orange County deserve accountability with their tax dollars in light of the ongoing stadium mess,” said Umberg, who represents Anaheim. Additionally, Umberg's bill grants the state's housing department the authority to demand that surplus land be re-auctioned.

In 2021, Anaheim was notified by the state that its intended sale of Angel Stadium violated the Surplus Land Act. Initially, city officials contended that the stadium property was exempt, but later, Anaheim agreed to allocate $96 million from the sale proceeds for the development of affordable housing.

“Back in 2021, there was a reasonable question about whether a stadium leased for Major League Baseball was surplus land. But we are in a different time and place today,” Anaheim spokesperson Mike Lyster said in a statement Monday. “We have tracked the legislation and its signing and will always adhere to any applicable California law.”

Read full story on Orange County Register

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