Crawford encouraged by sale of Orange County Fairgrounds
Del Mar still in talks about Fairgrounds purchase
In a deal that Del Mar City Councilwoman Crystal Crawford called “very encouraging,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office agreed to sell the Orange County Fairgrounds to the city of Costa Mesa for $96 million, pending approval from State Legislature.
The city of Del Mar has been in contact with Schwarzenegger’s office to discuss a potential purchase of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Crawford said the OC Fairgrounds sale signified the governor’s stance that the state should get out of the business of running fairgrounds, and instead that California should “let local governments take over, and here’s an example.”
Crawford declined to elaborate on the status of her city’s talks since the City Council’s discussions about the fairgrounds are closed session items. Fairgrounds CEO Tim Fennell, who has said he is skeptical about Del Mar’s potential purchase, did not return a call seeking comment.
The negotiations between Del Mar and the governor’s office were listed on the June 21 City Council’s closed session agenda. That night, the public portion of the City Council meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m., started roughly 20 minutes late.
Crawford, however, said there were four closed-session items to take care of and that the delay could not be attributed to fairgrounds discussions.
“We’ve just had a lot of business to conduct,” she said.
While Crawford said she could not comment on the ongoing negotiations, she did say she hopes to someday be able to discuss it in a public forum.
“Boy I’m looking forward to having this on an open session agenda,” she said.
The bordering city of Solana Beach has expressed interest in joining Del Mar in purchasing the fairgrounds. Mayor Tom Campbell has suggested the idea of a Joint Powers Authority.
The Associated Press reported Costa Mesa purchased the OC Fairgrounds with a JPA that includes the Costa Mesa Public Finance Authority. If the deal is approved, the State of California will receive $19.2 million down, with the rest being financed over 40 years at 5 percent interest, according to the AP’s report.
California is currently seeking ways to eliminate a $19.1 billion deficit. The state had previously rejected a private bid of $56.6 million to purchase the OC Fairgrounds.
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