Orange County Fair Preservation Society

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Support AB35 (Solario)

May 2010
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Support AB35 (Solario) – Help stop the wasteful sale.

Fast Facts About the Sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds

The Orange County Fairgrounds (32nd DAA) doesn’t cost the state anything to operate. The property is owned free and clear by the state. Orange County Fairgrounds pays for salaries, maintenance and capital improvements using money generated at the Fairgrounds. No state subsidy goes to the OC Fairgrounds.

There is more than enough money from the OC Fairgrounds to share with the State. The property doesn’t have to be sold for the State to get revenue. Total revenues from 2005 to 2010 were over $168 million. Profits are being kept artificially low by management, which has gone on a spending spree and has conflicts of interest regarding the sale of the property.

Facilities Manage West (FMW) has no track record in operating a fairground or a similar venture. FMW is a group of real estate investors who operate an oil company and also engage in real estate development. They have no businesses, which involve fairground-type activities. There is no guarantee that they can deliver on their promises because they have no track record.

The surest and steadiest revenue streams for both the State and Costa Mesa is to continue the current usage, build up similar and compatible revenue streams and improve management. Over $168 million in revenue has been generated at the OC Fairgrounds since 2005. More money can be made by expanding usage compatible with the current uses and the community.

The OC Fairgrounds is a local economic engine. In 2010, over 1 million people visited the annual Fair (5 weeks during July and August.) The annual Fair created the equivalent of 2112 jobs with over $75 million of additional income generated. Over $2.8 million is generated in sales tax revenue by the annual Fair.

Continuing use as a fairground is not guaranteed if the property is sold to a private owner. Measure C, passed by Costa Mesa  in June 2010, locks in general plan land use restrictions, not zoning.  The general plan allows uses but does not require them.  There is no mandate that a fair ever be held on the property again or that any of the current uses be continued.  Permitted uses under Measure C include exposition/conference center, equestrian uses, live entertainment/concerts and temporary specialty retail uses.  Interpretation of Measure C is done by the City Council, which could be favorable to a private owner and lenient in their interpretations of what is allowed.

The sale is not required by the legislation allowing the sale. The Governor is allowed to sell the property but is not required.

The sale can be cancelled at any time prior to the deal closing. DGS contracts contain a clause allowing the State to end the sale at any time prior to the deal closing without incurring penalties.

The annual Fair is a substantial benefit to Costa Mesa. The over 1 million visitors drop additional money in Costa Mesa on their way to and from the Fair. Local residents have many of the Fair jobs, with their incomes being spent in Costa Mesa.

Orange County has spoken about wanting to keep their Fairgrounds out of the hands of real estate developers. 50,000 people signed petitions and postcards, which were delivered to Gov. Schwarznegger. 26 cities (including Costa Mesa) and the OC Supervisors passed resolutions against the sale. The Sierra Club, Friends of Harbors Beaches and Parks, California Labor Federation, SEIU 1000, Costa Mesa Sanitation District, Orange Coast Community College Board and many other comprising over 2.5 million people have spoken against the sale.

The OC Fairgrounds sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Davis Elementary School, Presidio School, Costa Mesa High School, TeWinkle Park, Orange Coast College, Coastline Regional Occupation Program, Vanguard University, and two local churches are adjacent to the OC Fairgrounds. Allowing real estate developers to buy the property to develop it is not in the interests of the community as a whole.


OCFPS working to preserve the OC Fairgrounds as a public asset, governed with full openness and accountability to the public.


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