Manufactured Home Community Residents Seek Recall of Anaheim California Mayor Over Rent Control and Angel Stadium Land Sale

According to a report by Voice of OC, a non-profit news organization, Anaheim, California Mayor Harry Sidhu might face a recall election after seniors from a manufactured home community, (a.k.a. mobile home park), started collecting signatures to toss the mayor out for refusing to consider rent control as well as leadership on the sale of Angel Stadium.

Seniors living at the Rancho La Paz Mobile Home Park showed up to City Council meetings for months last year, lobbying City Council members to enact a mobile home rent control ordinance when they were faced with spiking rents.

The lobbying efforts were not just limited to the city of Anaheim, but also the city of Fullerton, California. An interesting and difficult dynamic to address is the fact that the 390 senior home community straddles the border of these two Orange County cities.

The genesis of this recall effort dates back to early 2019 when residents of Rancho La Paz came together to find ways to staunch increases after being notified of rent hikes from $200 to $400 per month following the $85 million sale of the community to an investor.

Here, in this space, we posted a blog about the initial efforts of senior residents to mitigate the rent increases proposed by the park’s new owner, titled, City Of Fullerton,CA May Consider A Moratorium On Rent Hikes For Mobile Home Park -On their Side Of the Border.

Fast forward to the present: “After going to council meetings and trying to talk to  Anaheim Mayor Sidhu, he just ignored us completely. And then, there was the whole bit about the stadium –just kind of giving it away. People are getting more and more upset with him,” said Rancho La Paz resident Cheryl Moi.

The recall effort just doesn’t stem from Sidhu’s opposition to previously proposed mobile home rent control ordinances, said La Paz resident Lupe Ramirez.

It’s also the secret Angel Stadium negotiations that eventually turned into a land sale with a starting price tag of $320 million, which is being sold to a company whose only known member is Arte Moreno, the team’s owner.

After factoring “community benefits credits” — roughly $170 million to subsidize 466 units of affordable housing and a seven-acre park –the sale price is now $150 million.

Some of the contentions upsetting Ranch La Paz Seniors, according to Voice of OC, are:  Seniors are upset at Sidhu’s move to bailout Visit Anaheim, the advertising branch of the Disneyland-resort area. “The money he got for Anaheim, he gave away $6 million of it to Visit Anaheim– the COVID money,” Moi said.

The $6.5 million contract, which was to rebook conventions and get new ones, originally was funded through a convention center reserve fund, but city officials later indicated they’re going to use $6.5 million of the city’s $$33 million in federal coronavirus relief funds.

Other dissatisfactions voiced by Rancho La Paz seniors are contentions concerning alleged refusal to meet with minority city council members, Denise Barnes and Jose Moreno, said Moli and Ramirez. “ Denise and Jose just get put down –the only thing that goes through is money. The things Sidhu wants,”  Moi said.

That kind of dynamic is ultimately what forces a civic action like a recall, said Ramirez. “He’s the mayor and not the king.”

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