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Lawmakers want to stop Orange County fairgrounds sale [Updated]

Two days before an auction to sell the Orange County Fairgrounds, a state legislative panel today said the transaction should not go forward.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed that the 150-acre property that includes the fairgrounds be sold in hopes of bringing in up to $180 million to help with the state’s budget crisis.

Facing a roomful of Orange County civic leaders wearing orange lapel buttons saying "Derail the Sale," the Assembly Business and Professions Committee voted unanimously to support a bill that would block the sale of the land, which is in Costa Mesa.

Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana), an author of the measure, acknowledged the sale might take place before the bill can be approved by the full Legislature. But he said he hoped it would put pressure on Schwarzenegger to consider the community’s wish that the property remain a fairground.

Local leaders said they would like to see the city and county or a nonprofit group take over the fairgrounds. They expressed concern that an auction may put the property in the hands of a developer who would want to use it commercially.

"This fairground is a cultural asset not only for Orange County but the entire area of Southern California,’’ said Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Garden Grove) "It’s important we maintain it as a fairground."

[Corrected, 4:46 p.m.: A previous version of this post identified Van Tran as a Democrat.]

 -- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

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Comments () | Archives (6)

Hey, Patrick: Long time no see. Just an FYI: Van Tran is a Republican.

I support private property ownership.

Arnold, cannot balance the budget solutions because that requires to be able to think. He can only come up with a fire sale, and cutting programs. All muscles, and no brains; we are so lucky to have him.

Come on folks. I like the OC fairgrounds, but, hey, it's a parking lot. It's a swap meet two days a week, 48 weeks a year, and it's the OC Fair for about 4. And, OK, some permanent farm related stuff and barns. There's plenty of room to move the OC fair to the Great Park in Irvine, which remains a total joke so far. If nothing else, they've got even more parking lot down there (old runways?)
Ahh, that's right, there's also the amphitheater. I really do like that facility, but, talk about an under utilized waste. Due to noise issues - it has what - perhaps 4-8 events in the 48 weeks the OC Fair isn't running (and almost every night when the fair is on).
I'm a big music fan. Personally I was there for 5 concerts this year, so that makes me one of the most active users. Depending on lineup I typically attend 2-6 concerts during the OC fair each year. Still, I can live without it.

$180 million dollars - let's see, invested at 6% per year, that's over $10M a year in interest - to be used for, say, keeping in-home care programs for the elderly from being eliminated, for who knows - a hundred thousand Californians. Or, of course, keeping everyone's taxes from going up, or perhaps one of hundreds of small savings that might prevent California from declaring bankruptcy in 2011. (It's probably more likely than not, unless our president decides to merge California with Washington D.C. and make it a second ward of the federal government.

It's nice to see another bunch of government bureaucrats who simply can't give anything up, who have absolutely no sense of responsibility. If it's so valuable, buy it out of YOUR budget, not mine. Want to save it, find 500 state or county government full-time jobs to eliminate permanently to pay for it. Otherwise, say goodbye to a bad investment. (If it was a good one, it wouldn't be on the block.)

Oh yeah, how could we all live with ourselves if a developer bought it. They actually might build something, you know, more jobs, more tax revenues, and perhaps, a place to put a few of the huge population increase. Depending on whether you go by California numbers or the US Census, by 2050 California population will grow to 50 million+ (US) to 60 million+. That's right, over the next 40 years california's population will grow at a rate of a new city, the size of San Diego, roughly every 2 years. so, I guess we'll need a few developers, since we'll need a minimum of 10 million new housing units (excluding any units replacing older units).

So, lose the Fairgrounds. Let the Swap meet folks negotiate another place to hold it. Shouldn't be a big deal, and same for the OC Fair, assuming we can afford it - that it isn't a huge financial drain on the county? The amphitheater will be missed by many, but it's already mostly a 1 month a year facility.
-art

Some people would sell their own children for profit. This is about as low as it gets. We might as well just give up and sell everything to the highest bidder. Our National Parks, our beaches, our freeways, the Washington Memorial... Sacramento has a spending problem. If it operated like the fairgrounds we'd be in great shape. The Fairgrounds doesn't cost taxpayers any money at all to operate and even generates a profit. Only someone thoroughly whacked out would sell out our American culture and heritage needlessly. We will lose the year round Equestrian Center, working farm and dairy, 4H clubs, traveling expos and circuses, and the Summer Fair!

Hey Art in San Clemente -
It's not just a bunch of government bureaucrats that "can't give anything up." I live right down the street from the fairgrounds and our infrastructure cannot support the number of homes it will take to justify the purchase of the land by a developer.

I hope they build the toll road in South County and it goes right by your home and keeps you up at night.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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