Opinion: Close the fairgrounds


By Preston Vorlicek

Resident, Del Mar

The fairgrounds are a public nuisance! Traffic jams and loud noise throughout the summer (and remember the drug problems of a few years back?). The fair, the parking lots and many of the buildings and events are an eyesore (remember the RV and auto sales?). Imagine if your neighbor behaved in a similar fashion. By all measures, the fairgrounds are a “bad neighbor.”

As to Ms. Crawford’s claim in the U-T that “The fair and horse racing is part of our culture”, I couldn’t disagree more (unless she means part of our culture in a negative way). I haven’t been to the fair or the racetrack in seven or eight years. I dread the fair and racing seasons for the traffic and noise they bring.

I’ll make a friendly wager with Ms. Crawford (or any other council member) as follows:

Have the city conduct a real and open survey (not the vocal minority) of all of the residents of Del Mar to see if they would prefer the continuation of the fairgrounds (basically as is) or follow my plan below.

If a majority of the residents say continue with the fairgrounds (basically as is), I will donate $500 to Ms. Crawford’s charity of choice.

Here’s my plan:

  1. Buy the fairgrounds for $120 million (it’s a great price IF you follow my plan).
  2. Re-zone the area as residential with a good amount of open space and park areas (preferably close to the beach).
  3. Sell the residential lots to retire the debt needed to buy the property (400 acres should yield quite a few lots).
  4. If there are any excess funds (and I’ll bet there would be), distribute the money to the residents of Del Mar (after all, it is OUR MONEY, right?).

Selling $200,000,000 in lots (valued at $400,000,000 after improvements) should generate more than $1,000,000 in property tax revenue for the city each year if my calculations are correct.
As far as the city buying and operating the fairgrounds, give me a break. What residents of Del Mar have the qualifications to be on the board and oversee the operation of a $100,000,000 (my guess) gambling and entertainment operation? Put it in the hands of another city employee (with a nice contract and pension, of course)? NO THANKS!

If any of my fellow citizens agree with me, speak up!

P.S.: Ms. Crawford states: “Our main concern is that we keep this very unique property in the public domain.” May I suggest, Ms. Crawford (and all council members) that your main concern should be about improving the welfare of your constituents and not about keeping government control of $100 million gambling and entertainment operation.