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Suit filed over pending sale of Orange County Fairgrounds

November 16, 2010 |  6:23 pm

A swap meet operator and a coalition of small business owners said Tuesday that they have sued the state in an effort to halt the sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds to a developer for $100 million.

American Fairs and Festivals, which is made up of local stakeholders including swap meet operator Tel Phil Enterprises Inc., filed suit in Orange County Superior Court in hopes of stopping the Department of General Services from transferring the 150-acre property to Newport Beach-based Facilities Management West.

The group is asking the court to determine whether the state properly conducted the bidding and whether authorizing the sale was constitutional. The plaintiffs allege that the General Services Department violated the public bidding process required by Food and Agriculture codes when it began private negotiations with interested parties.

The city of Costa Mesa is described in the lawsuit as one of the private entities the state negotiated with privately. Costa Mesa formed a joint-powers authority and began working with Facilities Management West to finance the purchase and operate the property, but that deal fell through.

State officials have repeatedly said they properly handled the bidding process.

-- Mona Shadia of Times Community News


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