Opinion: City of Del Mar jeopardizes fairgrounds litigation settlement with new demands


The Board of Directors of the 22nd District Agricultural Association regrets to inform the public that possible settlement of environmental litigation with the City of Del Mar has suffered a serious setback.

Since June 2011, the 22nd DAA Board has been in negotiations with the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority to settle a lawsuit over the Fairgrounds Master Plan Environmental Impact Report. In February, the DAA Board of Directors unanimously approved settlement terms that had already been approved by both cities and the JPA. These terms included significant modifications to the Fairgrounds master plan.

However, the DAA Board of Directors was just provided with a draft proposed settlement agreement that did not reflect the settlement terms that had been negotiated by the parties. Instead, the draft proposed settlement agreement reflected that the City of Del Mar has dramatically changed the previously agreed upon terms. “The new terms demanded by the City of Del Mar are onerous, punitive and unreasonable,” stated Adam Day, President of the 22nd DAA Board of Directors. Counsel for the city has been informed of the board’s rejection of the City of Del Mar’s new terms.

The 22nd DAA Board remains willing to accept the original settlement terms, which were negotiated over the course of several months and previously approved by the cities, the JPA and the DAA. However, failure to finalize the settlement agreement on the previously approved terms puts at risk several cooperative efforts now under way between the City of Del Mar and the DAA. These efforts include plans to mitigate traffic and other impacts on Del Mar businesses, joint public transportation shuttles, resolution of fire station lease issues and assistance with the city’s affordable housing requirements.

“The 22nd DAA Board is deeply disappointed in the leadership of the City of Del Mar for changing the terms of the settlement which had been negotiated in good faith over the past many months. The 22nd DAA Board has been working hard to mend the relationship between the Fairgrounds and the City of Del Mar and had directed staff to assist the city in many ways. The 22nd DAA is still hopeful that the original agreed upon terms can be ratified. However until this occurs, the Board of Directors has directed staff to cease any further assistance efforts,” Day added.

The 22nd District Agricultural Association is a State of California agency that owns and operates the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Surfside Race Place, Horsepark Equestrian Center and the Del Mar Golf Center. The 22nd DAA produces five events each year: The San Diego County Fair, the Del Mar National Horse Show, Professional Bull Riding (PBR), The Scream Zone and Holiday of Lights. The Fairgrounds hosts more than 350 events annually, the largest of which is the live horse racing meet each summer, which is operated by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for the 22nd DAA and the State of California. For more information, visit www.delmarfairgrounds.com

— Submitted opinion/press release.