Save the Fair Overview 11/19/2009

So alot has happened in the last month and a half since we started the Save the Fair effort through my weekly Daily Pilot column on October 9; and I wanted to catch everyone up to speed.

Several months back, the California State Legislature agreed to a budget plan that put the Orange County Fairgrounds on the market to the highest bidder.  The State initially valued the property around $180 million, but thanks to the activism of citizens such as yourself and a vocal Costa Mesa City Council, we have shown that this property will stay as a fairgrounds and no developer will be able to push us around.

On October 20th, the Council voted unanimously to begin drafting a tighter specific plan of the property that would take place once a new owner takes over.

The State of California responded by sending a strongly worded letter to Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor stating, “Adopting this Specific Plan will severely restrict the future land uses available to potential buyers,” and that, “…If the city moves forward with the Specific Plan and the fairgrounds’ value is diminished, the state will consider whatever options may be available to preserve the fairgrounds’ value.”

The Council lashed back and took the advice of us here at ‘Save the Fair’ and voted 5-0 to begin drafting a ballot initiative to further lock in the zoning of the fairgrounds through a vote of the people.

Since then, we had an informational hearing put on by Assemblymen Van Tran and Jose Solorio to go over the process and what had happened to that point.  Representatives from the State Department of General Services, the County, the City, the OC Fair Board, the OC Fair & Event Center, the Equestrian Center, myself and others all spoke to give our perspectives on what had taken place thus far and where we were headed from here.  Assemblyman Van Tran ended by promising to propose legislation to only sell the property as a fairgrounds.

This past tuesday, we had the latest City Council meeting that really summed up the togetherness of our movement.  Both City Council and constituents came together to do everything in our powers to Save the Fair that we know and love.  The City Council voted unanimously to request that Governor Schwarzenegger stop the state’s sale of the fairgrounds, as well as voted unanimously to begin putting together a proposal of their own to purchase the fairgrounds.

With all of us working together, we will save the fair.  Many are pushing first and foremost to stop the sale, and we commend them for that.  We here are doing our best to make sure we are prepared in case that effort fails.

Through our citizen-passed ballot initiative, specific plan, and overall show of strength as a community, we have shown any potential developers that this land will stay a fairgrounds!

In doing so, we have shown that the property will be valued as a fairgrounds and not a massive new development; and that we as a City can be a buyer and take over local control of our Fair should the sale go through.

Together, we have hit this issue from all sides, and if we continue to work together, we will succeed.  We aren’t there yet, but we are headed in the right direction.

So if you haven’t yet, please become a fan on our Facebook page, check us out on Twitter @SavetheFair, or sign up for our email newsletter on our new website, www.SavetheFair.com.  You can also read my weekly columns in the Daily Pilot every Saturday morning (or check out the online version here and scroll down to my name).

Thanks again for your support and action.

Respectfully,

Jim Righeimer

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