Judge David Hoffer made an initial decision in the lawsuit the People’s Homeless Task Force v. City of Anaheim after the case was heard in the Orange County Superior Court on March 2.
The People’s Homeless Task Force, a nonprofit focusing on homelessness and poverty in Orange County, argues city officials did not follow the Brown Act—which requires government affairs to be open to the public—by discussing the sale behind closed doors.
“The discussion and decision surrounding the sale of the stadium site were anything but secret and were fully vetted with the public,” Hoffer wrote in the initial decision (pdf).
Before the decision is finalized, the People’s Homeless Task Force of Orange County has 10 days to review the decision and convince the judge of their argument that city officials violated the law.
City officials are optimistic about the judge’s ruling, but the concern that led the People’s Homeless Task Force of Orange County to file an appeal to overturn the decision lingers, Anaheim spokesperson Mike Lyster told The Epoch Times.
However, Lyster said he is optimistic that Hoffer’s ruling will remain and stadium development plans will move forward.
“This initial decision is the right decision,” Mayor Harry Sidhu said in a statement. “This validates that the stadium sale was extensive public process with community input and debate.”
Anaheim city officials sold the stadium to Angels Baseball team owner Arte Moreno in December 2019 for $320 million months before the sale was brought to the public, the People’s Homeless Task Force alleges.
The group filed the lawsuit in February 2020 after arguing that city officials failed to discuss the sale openly in public.
The judge’s ruling is not final yet, and the law firm representing the organization—Law Offices of Kelly Aviles—disagreed with the decision and continued to argue that the city failed to notify the public of the sale.
“While we appreciate the court’s time and effort in this case, we disagree with its ruling,” Shaila Nathu, associate attorney, told The Epoch Times. “No determination has been made on whether to appeal. We are considering all options and hope to have a decision soon.”
On March 2, Kelly Aviles, attorney for the nonprofit, said that policy decisions, including real estate transactions, need to be discussed in an open session, which the council failed to do.
City officials dismissed Aviles’s accusation, arguing they abided by the law.
“These are damaging accusations that are being made and we need to be very careful when we talk about these accusations to emphasize where there is and is not evidence to support,” attorney Thomas Brown, representing the City of Anaheim, said before Judge David A. Hoffer on March 2.
The lawsuit over the 150-acre stadium could have halted the current plans to re-develop the land around the stadium with homes, shops, restaurants, and offices on the property.