Last week, the Long Beach Post news site published an article claiming the Angels are in talks with Long Beach about moving to the team there to a 13-acre city-owned site on the waterfront:
“The Los Angeles Angels are in talks with the city about the possibility of moving the team to Long Beach and building a new stadium on a Downtown waterfront lot, several sources familiar with the discussions told the Post.”
The story lede overstates the situation: after the Angels exercised their opt-out provision last year, the City of Long Beach informed the Angels of the city’s interest in discussing the waterfront property as a site for the team.
Mayor Garcia told the Post:
“We are in the early stages of our due diligence and are exploring a variety of options for this property,” Mayor Robert Garcia confirmed in a statement Monday evening. “We have approached the Angels to express our interest and discuss the possibilities of this opportunity.”
Translation: there are no negotiations and, in fact, Long Beach is still trying to figure out if it is even feasible to bring the Angels to that site, given its existing encumbrances. The Long Beach site is also under the regulatory purview of the California Coastal Commission – a body not known for being development-friendly. Furthermore, the Long Beach site is only 13 acres, compared to the 22-acre footprint the Angels currently have.
In other words, after the team exercised it the opt-out clause, Long Beach understandably proposed the Angels to consider their city as a location. The Angels needed to find a site and said “OK, we’ll consider it.” After five years of unproductive negotiations with Anaheim during Mayor Tom Tait’s tenure, that isn’t surprising.
That didn’t prevent Councilman Jose F. Moreno from pouncing to exploit the story for political reasons. The Voice of OC published a story this morning copiously quoting Moreno:
“So it’s extremely disappointing while the council was extending a good faith effort … while the council was talking about a lease, that’s rent-free for two years, the Angels were talking to another city about moving there,” Councilman Jose Moreno said in an interview Tuesday.
The Anaheim City Council voted 5-2 to extend the lease to 2020 Jan. 15, with Moreno and Councilwoman Denise Barnes dissenting.
Moreno tried to get the Angels to agree to an exclusive negotiation clause in exchange for the lease approval, but failed to get the council majority to support it.
“This was expected — the Council did vote down my proposal to require exclusive negotiations in return for an extended lease. Unfortunately, the council did not approve that amendment and it’s disappointing that the rational the Council gave and the mayor was they wanted a fresh start to the negotiations,” Moreno said.
Moreno’s over-reaction rings is disingenuous. Long Beach and the Angels aren’t negotiating. If one party proposes an idea to another party, that isn’t a negotiation.
It was up to Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu to point out the obvious in a public statement on Monday:
“It’s no surprise other cities would try to lure the Angels to leave — having a Major League Baseball franchise is a big benefit to any city. We are confident that the best place for the Angels is and always will be Anaheim, and the one-year extension we granted gives us the time to work out the details and craft an agreement that benefits our residents and the city.”
Moreno’s prior relationship with the Long Beach City Council raises the question of whether he was already aware Long Beach had approached the Angels. Long Beach made its pitch last year, and Moreno – a Chicano Studies professor at Cal State Long Beach – has a relationship with Long Beach councilmembers. In October 2015, Moreno made a presentation to the Long Beach City Council at the invitation of Long Beach Councilman Roberto Uranga, as part of the city’s Hispanic Heritage Month:
In this context, it’s reasonable to wonder if Moreno wasn’t already aware of Long Beach’s overture to the Angels when he proposed his amendments to the lease extension at the January 15 meeting of the Anaheim City Council. Those amendments seemed politically-motivated, as does his ongoing efforts to make politically hay out of the council majority’s intention to reach a win-win agreement to keep the team in Anaheim.
The District 3 councilman even used the news to try and score points for his budding campaign to bring rent control to Anaheim. Referring to the January vote to extend the Angel’s lease for a year, Moreno told the Voice of OC:
“After all, they (the Angels) are not a nonprofit, they are making money using a city asset. So I was hoping we can do a fair deal, at market rate. In essence what the council affirmed was a strong belief that in order to keep the Angels, what was enacted in effect, was a rent stabilization effort … to keep the Angels in place for another year.”
Leaving aside the irony of Moreno’s support for market rate anything given his backing for government control of wage and rent levels, the lease extension bears no resemblance whatsoever to rent control. His phrasing – “making money using a city asset” – implies the Angels are somehow taking advantage of Anaheim, forgetting the city built a baseball stadium because it wanted a baseball team. This rhetoric may make sense in the world of Morenonomics, but not in the real world.