After hours of debate, Anaheim council approves details of Angel Stadium sale

The deal isn’t totally done, but the Anaheim City Council early Wednesday, Sept. 30, approved the terms on which they’ll sell the city’s biggest asset, Angel Stadium, and allow the surrounding property to be developed with thousands of homes, offices, shops and restaurants that are expected to generate millions in revenue.

The council’s vote, which came at the end of a more than seven-hour meeting, was not a surprise – a majority led by Mayor Harry Sidhu in December agreed to the framework of the deal, and their public comments have been supportive of the details that were unveiled earlier this month.

  • The plan for developing the Angel Stadium property includes improving the connection to the ARTIC transportation center, by opening the outfield to “create a dramatic new entrance to the stadium surrounded by a wide range of retail, dining and entertainment experiences to be enjoyed game day and every day.” (Courtesy of SRB Management)

  • The Stadium Development Plan is a proposed 30-year master plan that would bring “a diverse housing, transit-oriented and walkable community to the Platinum Triangle – all anchored by parks, offices, public spaces, shops, restaurants and entertainment entirely connected to Angels Baseball.” (Courtesy of SRB Management)

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  • The development plan for the Angel Stadium property envisions guests arriving on game days via local transportation hubs and parking area will be able “to enjoy two dynamic retail, dining and entertainment hubs on the property in the future.” (Courtesy of SRB Management)

  • The plan for the development of the Angel Stadium property would create a 7-acre central gathering place along with an additional five-acres of linear parks, landscaped paths and playing fields. (Courtesy of SRB Management)

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When the sale closes, likely in late 2021, the city will turn over the stadium and the 150 acres on which it sits to SRB Management, Angels owner Arte Moreno’s business partnership, in exchange for $150 million in cash and another $170 million in community benefits that include 466 units of housing for lower income residents and a 7-acre public park that is expected to be a showpiece.

Sidhu, who helped negotiate the deal, said any city council would be happy to make a deal like this, with a projected 30,000 construction jobs and 45,000 permanent jobs, a walkable development with 15% affordable housing, a high-quality urban park and a long-term commitment from a Major League Baseball team to play in town.

“I truly believe residents for generations to come will thank us for (this), and actions we take tonight will truly benefit all residents in our city,” he said.

In a statement, SRB Management spokeswoman Marie Garvey said, “Tonight was an important vote by the City of Anaheim and will secure a long-term home for the Angels. While there are still more steps to go, we are pleased that the Stadium Development Plan continues to move forward. In the future, this property can play a key role in Anaheim’s recovery by creating thousands of jobs and building an exciting destination and community for residents and fans.”

Two council members, Denise Barnes and Jose Moreno, have been critical of the deal, which they say grossly undervalues the property and deprives the city of millions of dollars that could be used to fund services and programs that benefit all Anaheim residents. They cast the only two no votes Wednesday.

Barnes tried to postpone the issue until the city holds an in-person public workshop, but only Moreno supported that suggestion. The city held three online town halls this month at which residents could submit questions, but no in-person meetings have taken place since March due to the pandemic.

Moreno continued to question whether the deal was negotiated appropriately, and he objected to crediting SRB Management about $46 million for a park that would be a selling point in what’s expected to be a high-end development.

“It’s not only a community benefit, it’s a benefit to the developer,” he said.

Some residents and Angels fans have applauded the deal, in part because it includes a commitment agreement that locks the team into playing in Anaheim at least through 2030 (the owner could face a penalty of at least $100 million if the team were to leave early). It also provides for Moreno to either renovate or replace the 1966 stadium, but no decision on that has been announced. The city will be out of the business of maintaining the stadium.

But others, including two former Anaheim mayors, have been critical of what they said is a rushed process with limited public input, and they have questioned why the city is crediting the buyer for millions of dollars in housing and park space, benefits that in some other cases have been negotiated at no cost to a community.

Anaheim officials have noted that the city has no affordable housing mandate requiring a percentage of housing be designated for lower incomes and the 7-acre park is in addition to smaller parks that help the development meet city requirements for new construction.

Moreno also unsuccessfully sought to tweak the language of the agreement that commits the Angels to play in Anaheim for at least 30 more years, citing what he said might be a loophole that could let the team go elsewhere in Orange County.

In 2006, the city lost a lawsuit over the team’s name change to “Los Angeles Angels” when a court determined the lease language allowed it. This time, city staff told the council SRB officials had already agreed to shore up the promise to remain in the city, making Moreno’s suggested change unnecessary.

The city has already been paid $5 million from the sale and may get another $45 million as soon as October. The remainder of the cash payment would come in $20 million installments over the next few years after the sale closes. The council still must take a second, procedural vote on the sale deal, expected at its next meeting.

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2 slain in Anaheim; suspect is believed to have killed himself in Santa Barbara County

ANAHEIM — Anaheim detectives investigating a double homicide Sunday found the suspect in Santa Barbara County dead from an apparent suicide.

It started about 6:15 a.m. when officers were called to an apartment in the 1800 block of South Haster Street on a report that two people had been shot, according to Anaheim police Sgt. Shane Carringer.

“Officers arrived on scene and located the bodies of 47-year-old, Maria Ernestina Ramirez of Anaheim, and 40-year-old Efrain Hernandez-Ramirez of Placentia,” Carringer said. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

The victims had the same last name but their relationship was not immediately explained.

“Homicide detectives quickly identified Jorge Pino, a 57-year-old resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, as a suspect in the murders,” he said. “Jorge Pino and Maria Ernestina Ramirez were in a long-term dating relationship which had recently ended.”

Detectives were preparing an arrest warrant for Pino at about 10:30 a.m. when Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies discovered Pino’s body in the Gaviota area, Carringer said. “Pino suffered what is believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. “

Anyone who had contact with Pino or has other information was asked to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS.

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Coronavirus: Reopening of Orange County schools now delayed to Sept. 22, at the earliest

Orange County’s schools may be able to open in-person on Sept. 22 – not Sept. 8 – the Orange County Health Care Agency announced late Monday night via Twitter.

Under a new four-color, tiered monitoring system, Orange County is in the most restrictive of the tiers, but it’s on track to bump up to the next tier on Sept. 8.

The county would then remain for 14 days in that tier, county health officials confirmed with the the California Department of Public Health, according to the late-night Tweet.

That means that the earliest schools could welcome students to campuses is on Sept. 22.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new color-coded tier system on Friday, there was initially much confusion among Orange County educators as to what it meant for school reopenings. Then, the county’s health officer, Clayton Chau, tweeted that the switch to a new monitoring system did not reset the 14-day countdown and schools could still open as soon as Sept. 8, if lower case trends continue.

I confirmed with the State that has not changed for OC except for the update in the new blueprint usually occurs on Monday and the State posts on Tuesday, so the school reopening would be Tuesday, September 8, right after Labor Day weekend.

— OC Health Care Agency (@ochealth) August 28, 2020

On Saturday, county health officials cast doubt on that opening date. In a Tweet, officials said they requested clarification from schools on the 14-day wait cycle. “State indicated we would get credit for those days. More to come.”

Update re: Gov.’s new system. We’ve requested additional clarification from State re: schools as there are several counties, including #OC, who are in limbo as we were part way thru prior 14 day cycle to re-open. State indicated we would get credit for those days. More to come.

— OC Health Care Agency (@ochealth) August 29, 2020

The answer apparently came late Monday night.  The earliest Orange County schools can open to in-person learning will be Sept. 22.

County Health Officer received confirmation from @CAPublicHealth that #OC is on track to enter into Red Tier on Sept. 8. Providing we meet Red Tier metrics at that time, there will be a 14-day wait for all K-12 schools to be eligible for reopening, which could happen on Sept. 22.

— OC Health Care Agency (@ochealth) September 1, 2020

Al Mijares, county superintendent of schools, said in a statement Monday night: “I know how frustrating it is to be in this position, given the complex planning it takes to restart our campuses.”

“Dr. Chau has advocated strongly on our behalf, but the state was firm in its response.”

To learn more about the new color-coded monitoring system: Orange County lands in most restrictive tier of new coronavirus tracking system 

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Garden Grove man, who served time for terrorism, now accused of drug trafficking

Drug trafficking charges have been leveled against a Garden Grove man previously convicted of leading a terrorist organization that planned attacks on military installations and synagogues in Los Angeles, officials said Wednesday, July 26.

Ahmed Binyamin Alasiri, also known as Kevin Lamar James, 44, of Garden Grove, was arrested Friday, Aug. 21 and indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on suspicion of two felony counts of distribution of methamphetamine. The defendant allegedly sold a total of two pounds of high-grade methamphetamine for $7,400 to his housemate, an undercover FBI employee, on July 24 and Aug. 6, according to court documents.

“I have connections to every single drug you can imagine,” Alasiri said while riding in a car with the undercover FBI employee on June 11, 2020, according to court documents.

He faces between 10 years to life in prison if convicted. Alasiri made his first appearance in court on Monday, and is scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing Sept. 14.

Alasiri was on supervised release after being sentenced in 2009 to 16 years in federal prison. He had pleaded guilty  in December 2007 to one count of conspiracy to levy war against the United States. He founded Jami’yyat Ul-Islam Is-Shaheeh (JIS), a group that planned to attack “enemies of Islam or ‘infidels,’” according to court documents.

The radical organization conducted research and made plans to attack military bases and recruitment centers, synagogues, the Israeli consulate and other targets in Los Angeles, according to court documents. Members of the group robbed 10 gas stations in Orange, Fullerton, Torrance, Bellflower, Pico Rivera, Playa Vista, Walnut and Los Angeles between May 30, 2005 and July 5, 2005.

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2 pedestrians killed in Anaheim crash identified

Officials identified two men Sunday, Aug. 23, who were fatally struck by a BMW while crossing a street in Anaheim nine days earlier.

Girmay Girmay, 70, of Anaheim and Solomon Kedebe, 61, of Los Alamitos, on Friday, Aug. 14 were standing on a center divider along Lincoln Avenue near Aladdin Drive just before the crash, Anaheim Police Sgt. Steve Pena said. They waited for at least one vehicle to pass before trying to cross the street, but were hit by a silver BMW at about 9 p.m.

“It looks like the pedestrians didn’t see the driver, and the driver didn’t see the pedestrians because the other car was in the way,” Pena said.

Both men died before they could be taken to a hospital, Orange County Coroner’s officials said. Relatives and friends of the victims from the surrounding neighborhood gathered near the site of the crash as police conducted an investigation.

Residential parking is limited nearby, and many people who live in the area wind up crossing Lincoln to get to their homes, Pena said. He said jaywalking is not uncommon on that street.

The driver of the BMW coupe waited for police to arrive, Pena  said. Drugs or alcohol did not appear to have been factors in the crash, Anaheim Police Sgt. Shane Carringer said.

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Woman 8 months pregnant dies in Anaheim crash; baby survives

A pedestrian who was more than eight months pregnant was killed in a crash in Anaheim on Tuesday night, Aug. 11 and another woman was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

The victim was walking on the sidewalk with her husband at about 7:36 p.m. when a Jeep jumped the curb on Katella Avenue, drove along the sidewalk for about 300 feet and struck her, police said. The jeep then crossed Bayless Street and crashed in front of a car wash.


A man in distress kneels and is comforted by bystanders following a crash on Katella Avenue near Bayless Street in Anaheim that left a pregnant 23-year-old Anaheim resident dead Tuesday, Aug. 11. The driver of the SUV involved in the collision suffered minor injuries and was arrested on suspicion of DUI. (Image taken from footage by Brentt Sporn, OnScene TV)

The woman’s husband attempted to perform CPR before she was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, where she died, Anaheim Police Sgt. Shane Carringer said.

The 23-year-old Anaheim resident was in her eighth month of pregnancy, he said. The baby was hospitalized in a neonatal intensive care unit as of 10:45 p.m. The mother’s identity was not immediately released.

David Orozco told a videographer at the scene he was in the area when he heard a loud boom and saw an SUV speeding past. He rushed to the scene of the collision and saw a woman lying on the ground with injuries to her head.

“It looked like she wasn’t breathing anymore,” Orozco said. “The husband was checking the pulse, and when he did check, he screamed.”

The 40-year-old woman behind the wheel of the SUV suffered minor injuries and was hospitalized, Carringer said. Investigators believe she may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. She was arrested and her booking was pending her release from medical treatment.


Police investigate at the scene of a crash on Katella Avenue near Bayless Street in Anaheim that left a pregnant 23-year-old woman dead Tuesday, Aug. 11. The driver of the SUV involved in the collision was arrested on suspicion of DUI. (Image taken from footage by Brentt Sporn, OnScene TV)

 

This is now a fatal traffic collision. An adult female pedestrian was killed in the collision.

— Anaheim PD (@AnaheimPD) August 12, 2020

OnScene.TV videographer Brentt Sporn contributed to this report.

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2 O.C. men sentenced to prison for scamming distressed homeowners during ’08 recession

SANTA ANA — Two Orange County men were sentenced Wednesday to five and 12 years in prison for their roles in a Santa Ana-based home loan modification scheme during the Great Recession in 2008.

Aminullah “David” Sarpas and Samuel Paul Bain started Santa Ana-based U.S. Homeowners Relief in late 2008 during the collapse of the housing industry that tipped the nation into a recession.

The company promised distressed homeowners relief on mortgage payments in exchange for advance fees ranging from $1,450 and $4,200, prosecutors said. The two falsely promised they had a 97% success rate lowering mortgage payments for clients, prosecutors said.

About 1,600 homeowners lost about $3.5 million in the scheme, prosecutors said. Many of the victims lost their homes.

Sarpas and Bain also co-owned Greenleaf Modify, Waypoint Law Group and American Lending Review.

Sarpas, 37, of Irvine, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney. Sarpas was convicted in a trial of 10 counts of conspiracy and mail fraud in April 2019.

Bain, 40, of Tustin, was sentenced to five years in prison, but has already served that amount of time behind bars, said his attorney, Kate Corrigan. Bain pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiracy and mail fraud.

Bain “has changed his life quite a bit and Judge Carney recognized the changes,” Corrigan said.

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Police ID 5 suspects in robbery of man targeted and killed for his bicycle in Santa Ana; 4 in custody

SANTA ANA — An accused gang member was behind bars Wednesday for allegedly robbing and fatally shooting a man who was targeted for his bicycle last month in Santa Ana.

Jose Luis Salgado of Santa Ana, who turned 20 Wednesday, is charged with murder, with a special circumstances allegation of murder committed for the benefit of a street gang, robbery, participating in gang activity and being an active participant in a gang carrying a loaded gun in public.

Salgado also faces sentencing enhancement allegations of a gang member’s vicarious use of a gun, discharge of a gun causing death and gang activity.

Pedro Morale Chocoj, 31, of Santa Ana was attacked July 23 about 7:45 p.m. by multiple suspects who wanted to steal his bicycle, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

His body wasn’t found until late the next day, when police responded to a call of a man down on a dirt path next to the Santa Ana Riverbed north of 5th Street, Bertagna said.

Chocoj was residing in Santa Ana with his brother and was sending money back to his wife and kids back in El Salvador, Bertagna said.

Santa Ana detectives tracked down the victim’s bicycle on July 27 in the 900 block of Fair Way, thanks to a tip that also led them to a suspect, who is charged with being an accessory after the fact, Bertagna said.

Jesus Gonzalo Ibarra, 22, of Santa Ana, is also charged with participating in gang activity, receiving stolen property and being an active participant in a gang carrying a loaded gun in public, all felonies, with sentence enhancement allegations for gang activity.

Last Wednesday, police arrested Salgado and two other suspects, including a teenager, Bertagna said. The other suspects’ identities have not been released as detectives are still investigating the case and seeking a fifth suspect, he said.

Anyone with information was asked to call detectives at 714-245-8390. Orange County Crime Stoppers will accept anonymous tips at 855-TIP-OCCS.

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These O.C. parents have a message for Gov. Newsom, teachers’ unions: ‘Open up the schools.’

A pro-charter school group brought some 75 parents, teachers and a couple of Orange County Board of Education members together Tuesday evening to rally for the reopening of schools that were closed because of coronavirus concerns.

Parents, they said, should be making the choice of whether their children learn on campus or online.

“Open up the schools,” the crowd briefly chanted.

  • Jeff Barke, right, leads a rally outside the Santa Ana Educators Association office in Santa Ana on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. The rally calling for the reopening of schools was organized by the California Policy Center’s “Parent Union.” (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cecilia Iglesias, left, and Orange County Board of Education member Mari Barke, right, join others outside the Santa Ana Educators Association office during a ‘reopen the schools’ rally in Santa Ana on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. The rally was organized by the California Policy Center’s Parent Union, a pro-charter school group. Iglesias, a former Santa Ana councilwoman and school board member, works for the center and organized the meeting with Barke’s help. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Rhonda Furin, center, joins others during a reopen the schools rally outside the Santa Ana Educators Association in Santa Ana on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. The rally was organized by a group called “Parent Union.” It’s a pro-charter school group under the libertarian California Policy Center. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A man holds up a sign during a ‘reopen the schools’ rally outside the Santa Ana Educators Association office in Santa Ana on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. The rally was organized by a“Parent Union.” (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • About 75 protesters gathered outside the Santa Ana Educators Association office for a ‘reopen the schools’ rally in Santa Ana on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cecilia Iglesias protests outside the Santa Ana Educators Association office during a reopen the schools rally in Santa Ana on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Iglesias, a former Santa Ana councilwoman and former School Board member, organized the rally as the head of the “Parent Union,” a pro-charter school group under the libertarian California Policy Center. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jeff Barke, a physician who advocates for the reopening of schools without social distancing or face masks, leads a ‘reopen the schools’ rally outside the Santa Ana Educators Association office in Santa Ana on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. The rally was organized by the California Police Center’s Parent Union group, a pro-charter group that said parents should have the choice of whether their children can return to campus for in-person learning or continue with online education. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Protestors gather outside the Santa Ana Educators Association for a reopen the schools rally in Santa Ana on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. The rally was organized by the California Policy Center’s “Parent Union.” (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jeff Barke, right, leads a rally outside the Santa Ana Educators Association office in Santa Ana on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. The rally calling for the reopening of schools was organized by the California Policy Center’s “Parent Union.” (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Flanked by American flags and punctuated with religious references and prayer, the rally was organized by the Orange County-based California Policy Center’s “Parent Union,” which pointedly chose to host its event in front of the offices of the Santa Ana teachers’ union.

“That’s why we’re here,” said Jeff Barke, an Orange County physician who regularly advocates for reopening schools without face masks or social distancing but mentioned neither safety precaution during the rally. Instead, he and others focused attention on teacher unions, which have advocated for resuming school online for now.

“We’re here to let them know we’re sick and tired of the schools being closed. It’s not based on science. It’s not based on statistics. It’s not based on facts. It’s based on union power. “

Barbara Pearson, president of the Santa Ana teachers’ union – the Santa Ana Educators’ Association – called the protest “another desperate grab for attention in their struggle to stay relevant.

“It has nothing to do with the reopening of schools or the students of Santa Ana.  Governor Newsom made the decision to close schools, not the unions.  Our priority is the safety of staff and students,” Pearson wrote in an e-mail Tuesday night.

On July 17, Newsom ordered that all public and private schools in counties seeing a spike in coronavirus cases could not reopen for in-person learning in the new academic year. That affected all of Orange County’s schools, except for those elementary schools that are applying for a waiver. (State officials unveiled the waiver application process Monday night; it’s likely to impact mostly private and parochial schools.)

During the rally Tuesday, a few teachers spoke about the detrimental effects of online learning on all students, but especially those who need special services. Students have regressed academically since schools shut down mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, they noted. And many who are in vulnerable situations, some speakers said, have been made even more vulnerable, exposing them to abuse and even suicide, because they don’t have their safe haven – school – to turn to.

Mari Barke, an elected member of the Orange County Board of Education and Jeff Barke’s wife, told the crowd, to “keep fighting” to reopen schools.

“Parents are in the best position to make decisions for their children,” Mari Barke said.

Last week, her board voted to file a lawsuit against Newsom to force a reopening of schools. Fellow Trustee Ken Williams also addressed the crowd, invoking God and talking about “the fight for the children.”

The rally was organized by Cecilia Iglesias, a former Santa Ana councilwoman and former School Board member who works for the California Policy Center, a libertarian think tank that focuses on issues like pension reform and charter schools. The Center runs four chapters of the Parent Union in Southern California. Iglesias said she hopes to hold similar rallies in other counties.

“Our call is a call to action, to let parents choose,” Iglesias said prior to the rally. “We’re suggesting: open up the schools, following safety guidelines, and give parents the choice.”

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Passenger dies, driver hospitalized after crash on 5 Freeway in Anaheim

A person died, and another was hospitalized after a car slammed into a pole on the 5 Freeway in Anaheim on Tuesday evening, July 28.

The crash happened at about 7:40 p.m.  between Brookhurst and Euclid Streets, Anaheim Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Tim Sandifer said. First responders encountered two people in a black Chevrolet sedan that struck a pole supporting a freeway sign.

The 26-year-old driver of the car was rushed to a trauma center. The 19-year-old passenger of the Chevy was “extremely entangled within the wreckage,” Sandifer said.

A firefighter was seen lying on the hood of the smashed vehicle while attempting to treat the passenger inside. Crews used pneumatic rescue tools and worked for about 25 minutes to free the passenger.

“It was a complicated extrication,” Sandifer said as orange sirens flashed and police investigated the scene behind him on the freeway. “Once that patient was removed from the wreckage, it was determined that it was a fatal traffic accident. It appears to be a young adult male who was killed in the incident.”

Orange County Coroner’s officials were summoned at 8:17 p.m., according to California Highway Patrol logs. The identity of the person who died was not made public Tuesday evening. Updates regarding the condition of the hospitalized driver were not immediately available.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. Authorities shut down the right two lanes near the site of the collision while authorities conducted an investigation, Sandifer said.

OnScene.TV videographer Brentt Sporn contributed to this report.

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