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Lawmakers want to stop Orange County fairgrounds sale [Updated]

January 12, 2010 | 12:55 pm

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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