By Karen Billing
A representative of the Del Mar Fairgrounds stopped by the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s March 24 meeting to speak against the city of Del Mar’s proposed purchase of the fairgrounds. Del Mar Fairgrounds COO Becky Bartling ended up running into a wall of resistance — planning board chair Frisco White admitted that the board was a tough crowd for Bartling, as its members are mostly dissatisfied with the 22nd District Agricultural Associaton’s management to this point.
In the past, the planning board has taken strong stances against the fairgrounds’ land use, particularly its master plan to develop the site to add new facilities that the planning board found too large and intense for its surrounding environment. The planning board members said they felt that no matter how much input the fairgrounds board members received on their plans, they would still do whatever they wanted.
“Why ask us for help when you don’t help us out?” White asked Bartling.
“Nobody on [this] board is jumping with joy with Del Mar owning the fairgrounds,” said board member Scott Tillson. “But not a lot of folks are happy with the current situation, either.”
Bartling said that the current situation could change, as the fairgrounds board members are not opposed to a different structure and creating a “true regional board,” a joint powers authority with appointees from Solana Beach, Del Mar and San Diego.
She argued that Del Mar’s financial plan is flawed, with no way to support the fairground’s debt. She noted that privately-owned racetracks are failing, that Del Mar’s ownership could jeopardize favorite events held at the fairgrounds and disenfranchise three million San Diego County residents.
Planning board member Anne Harvey argued that they have already been disenfranchised.
“They just don’t listen. You just keep proposing larger, bigger and more intense development,” Harvey said. “The abuse to the land is staggering.”
Bartling said the fairgrounds board will be reviewing the master plan EIR (environmental impact report) on April 18 in a public workshop and that people will see if their comments have been heard.