New Law Would Stop Orange County Cities From Selling Land in Violation of Affordable Housing Laws

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that aims to prevent cities in Orange County from selling surplus land in violation of the state’s affordable housing laws, a response to the fallout of Anaheim’s now-nixed efforts to sell Angel Stadium.

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State Sen. Tom Umberg authored the legislation, which applies only to Orange County and will expire in 2030. An earlier version of the bill would have applied statewide, but Umberg’s office said, “Relentless lobbying by local governments including cities, counties, and special districts have led to the measure’s narrowing over the last 18 months.”

If a city within Orange County receives a notice of a Surplus Land Act violation from the California Department of Housing and Community Development from a planned sale of land, it would not be able to proceed with the sale without correcting the violation, according to the new legislation.

The Surplus Land Act requires priority be given to affordable housing and open space when a local government is selling excess property, including giving affordable developers first crack at negotiating for the land.

The state’s housing department, under Umberg’s bill, would also have the authority to require the surplus land to be rebid, according to Umberg’s office.

“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, whose district includes Anaheim.

The state notified Anaheim in late 2021 that its planned sale of Angel Stadium violated the Surplus Land Act. City leaders initially responded that the stadium property was exempt. Anaheim later agreed to pay $96 million from the sale’s proceeds toward the creation of affordable homes.

“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.”

Another one of Umberg’s bill signed by the governor into law last week requires a local agency that receives a violation notice to hold a public hearing to review and consider the matter.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

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