By Marlena Chavira-Medford
Del Mar and Solana Beach may be added to a senate bill that could potentially give the cities more control over the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
The bill, Senate Bill 249 (SB 249), was introduced by Sen. Leleand Yee, D-San Francisco, with the intention of providing more local control over Cow Palace, a state-owned agricultural facility that is home to the Grand National Rodeo and many other events throughout the year. Recently there have been drug-related deaths, injuries and arrests during concerts at Cow Palace, prompting concern from residents in neighboring Daly City and San Francisco.
Cow Place is run by the 1-A District Agricultural Association (1-A DAA) board, which includes nine members who area all appointed by the governor — the same as the Del Mar fairgrounds, which is run by the 22nd DAA board. However, SB 249 would allow the mayors of Daly City and San Francisco to each appoint two members to the Cow Palace board, thereby giving these communities more local control. Del Mar City Councilman Carl Hilliard would like to see Del Mar and Solana Beach have the same amount of power when it comes to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Therefore, he, with approval from Del Mar City Council, plans to approach the authors of SB 249 and ask that Del Mar and Solana Beach be added.
During the May 9 city council meeting, Hilliard said adding Del Mar and Solana Beach to SB 249 made sense because the two scenarios surrounding Cow Palace and the Del Mar Fairgrounds are so similar.
“In a statement about the bill Sen. Yee said: ‘the lack of representation on the Cow Palace board has resulted in decisions, especially regarding issues of public safety, that do not reflect the wishes and needs of the community.’ Sound familiar?”
A potential roadblock for SB 249 is the fact that the governor may not be keen on giving up any appointments to these state boards. Because of that, Hilliard said he has helped to draft an alternative option, which is to amend the law so that it clearly spells out the jurisdiction Del Mar has when it comes to regulating activities on the fairgrounds that are “outside of the [District Agricultural Association’s] core mission, and are competitive with private enterprise in the commercial market.”
SB 249 and the proposed alternative amendment are both in addition to Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), which would authorize Del Mar to buy the fairgrounds from the state. SB 1 was introduced in December, but it has now become a two-year bill, meaning it’s on hold until at least next year. SB1, like many bills, has been delayed because the Senate and Assembly are dealing with the state’s budget crisis.
“This is kind of our Plan B,” Del Mar City Councilman Mark Filanc said of the SB 249 and the proposed alternative amendment. “If this gives us at least some jurisdiction over the other events that are not keeping within the [DAA’s] original mission, that certainly goes a long way to helping us.
“It doesn’t do everything we want, but it does quite a bit of what we want.”