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County Urged to Sell Jail Site to Anaheim : Government: Cash-strapped supervisors could realize about $8 million out of the seven-acre parcel next to the arena.

August 12, 1993|TERRY SPENCER and KEVIN JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

ANAHEIM — A study for the County Board of Supervisors recommends the sale to Anaheim of a seven-acre parcel next to the Anaheim Arena that was once to be the site of a controversial 1,500-bed county jail.

A copy of the report obtained Wednesday states that "it would be beneficial to the county's operational and financial interests" to sell the land. County officials said the land, currently leased to the city for five years as an arena parking lot, is worth about $8 million.

The report also suggests ways to expand the arena's cramped parking lots by an additional 500 spaces. The arena has been plagued by parking problems since it opened in June.

While the county has never formally renounced plans to build a $150-million jail at the site, Anaheim successfully sued the county in 1988 over the environmental study used to justify the jail, effectively barring its construction.

In 1989, when the city tried to buy the land and build the arena there instead of at its current location, county supervisors rejected the offer. Unprecedented budget cuts at the county totaling $152 million could make the sale appealing.

"It seems that (the county) could take $8 million or $9 million from a sale and invest that money in something that could make us even more revenue," said Supervisor William G. Steiner, whose district includes the site. "We should seriously consider it."

City Manager James D. Ruth said the city will review the county's proposal--if it is ratified by supervisors Tuesday--to determine the feasibility of purchasing the land. In addition to the county proposal, the city is looking at buying or leasing other properties near the arena that could be made into parking lots.

The 18,500-seat arena, which opened June 19, only has 4,500 parking spaces, about 1,500 short of what it needs.

"We'll have to take a serious look at" the county's proposal, Ruth said. "It might be good for the city to own" the lot.

There could be roadblocks to the proposed sale of the jail site, however, because Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez has taken a strong position against the sale of any county properties. Vasquez could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The report, in addition to suggesting the sale of the site, also suggests ways in which about 500 parking spaces could be added on property near the arena. The county owns four of the five arena sites now used as parking lots.

According to the county report, new parking would be allowed on land next to the Santa Ana River now used for flood control. Another recommendation calls for the relocation of a vehicle storage company now leasing a 2.7-acre county-owned lot southeast of the arena. Those two moves would add 500 parking spaces.

"This will be a very big help to the arena and the city of Anaheim," Steiner said.

Ruth said the city is working on its own proposals to buy or lease three other properties near the arena.

The sites under consideration are two county-owned parcels not included in the county study and a privately owned seven-acre orange grove.

Ruth said the private site, next to the arena on Douglass Road North, would provide about 1,150 new parking spots. He said the city is trying to negotiate a long-term lease with the owner for that property.

The county sites the city has targeted would add about 670 parking spots. One site is a county storage area near a railroad track by Collins Avenue. The other location is a maintenance expansion site next to the Santa Ana River bike trail, south of Katella Avenue.

Times staff writer Matt Lait contributed to this report.

Arena Relief In a further effort to ease Anaheim Arena parking and traffic hassles and increase revenue, county officials have plans to open 500 additional parking spaces for arena events. Possible steps: 1. Sell seven-acre property. Possible price: more than $8 million. After sale, could remain as parking lot or be expanded. 2. Relocated fence at Katella maintenance yard to enlarge existing parking area by 1.2 acres. 3. Build vehicle bridge over flood channel; would direct traffic off Katella Avenue to surface streets south of the arena. 4. Relocate recreational vehicle storage site to gain about three additional acres of parking. Sources: Orange County Environmental Management Agency.

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