OC Fairgrounds: Revenue-Sharing Plan Gains Traction; Governor Releases Revised Budget; Costa Mesa Mayor Would Rather the Land Go to Highest Bidder

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​In breaking news, Assemblyman Jose Solorio's bill (AB 35) passed the Appropriations Committee--with a vote of 10-2--and will now move to the Assembly Floor. The bill allows for a revenue-sharing option if Governor Jerry Brown decides not to honor the $100 million bid by Facilities Management West for the Orange County Fairgrounds.

That's but another small step in the ever-developing, brow-scratch-worthy story of the 150 acres of state land.

In its totality, understanding the saga of the Fairgrounds is like trying to figure out the villain in a Dan Brown novel.

With each passing month and year since our former baby-making governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended the land be put up for sale, the plot has thickened. As it stands today, the former bad guys became the good guys, and some of the good guys became bad guys.

First the board of directors for the OC Fair & Event Center tried to sell the land to itself for 30 cents on the dollar (we presume, since no appraisal figure yet exists). Now the Fair Board agrees with the OC Fairgrounds Preservation Society that the land be preserved as state-run property. 

In the past couple years the city of Costa Mesa put together a couple unsuccessful bids to buy the land in hopes of keeping it within local control. Days ago, Mayor Gary Monahan (who seems to become more unpopular with each new decision) wrote a letter to the governor on city letterhead supporting the sale to a private bidder (which is in direct conflict with the letter the city council sent in Nov. 2009 opposing the sale) since he so thoroughly disagrees with Solorio's proposed revenue-sharing plan. When the letter was mentioned at a recent city council meeting, fellow council members appeared puzzled, according to Lisa Sabo, a Preservation Society member.

Facilities Management West, a company people seem to know little about, swooped in and won the land in auction with a bid of $100 million. FMW feels it still has a legal right to the land. What it plans to do with the land if it gets it is a mystery. But the company is known to have lobbyists up in Sacramento doing what they can to get final approval on its bid.

According to the OC Register, at a court hearing on Friday, the three-person panel spent the majority of its time asking the same question so many opponents of the sale have presented: what's the land actually worth? FMW believes its bid is fair and should be upheld, but the panel didn't seem completely convinced this was a sale that it wholly supports.

Governor Brown has remained quiet. Prior to his (re)election he voiced his opposition of the sale, but once he took office, he focused first on balancing the budget (rightly so). In his recently released revised budget it's difficult to ascertain which way the governor is leaning. How would you interpret the following:

Develop a Comprehensive Policy for Fairgrounds
Individual legislative initiatives have been introduced to sell fairgrounds over the years. These proposals should be evaluated in the context of a statewide policy and a property by property review of fairgrounds. The Secretary of Food and Agriculture will develop a plan to be included in the Governor's 2012-13 Budget, addressing the future operation, maintenance and oversight of the Network of California Fairs, including real and personal property and the feasibility to restructure the governance of the fairs within this network. 

Not bad news, but not great news, right?

Stay tuned and keep your "spidey sense" dialed high.
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4 comments
Jaonna economakos
Jaonna economakos

Since the Fair Grounds battle was in court does anyone wonder why it is taking soooo long to come up with a solution. I'm sure we will benefit from the wait to get our Fair back.Orange countians can maybe save the equestrian center and get the horse races back too. Since a lot of tracks are failing due to 'Off Track' betting, it would be nice to see the thoroughbreds or sulkies or quarter horses run at Los Alimitos again.More revenue sharing helps everyone. I am a fifty two year resident of Costa Mesa.

Jt345yourock
Jt345yourock

 Gary Monahan just like Allan Mansewer is FMW's bitch.They should both be made to stand on a street corner and wear a fucking dress as they sell their ass for a paltry sum probably 2.00 worth of food stamps.Probably all it's worth however so a fair price.Gary rent a gun and buy a bullet save us all some time; oh on second thought buy four bullets one for Pigheimer,Mess-inger,and Beaver carcass.All complete douche bags!!!!

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

 I have a feeling that the fairground property will be sold at a bargain basement price, the sale will be held up due to the lack of an appraisal, then when it is determined the prime real estate is actually worth well over 1 billion FMW will sue the State as the Governator gave his former financial supporters a sale at 100 Million.. . eventrually we will see million dollar affordable condos built on the property and the fairgrounds will be moved to a corner of the Great Park so Agran can get his cut.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

 I think you are a bit to conciliatory towards these crooks. I honestly believe they are part of FMW or somehow on their payroll!

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