Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

City Council to Vote on June Ballot Options to Save the Fair

November 30, 2009

Thanks to the 5-0 vote of the Costa Mesa City Council on November 3rd, the city staff has put together 4 different Ballot Initiative options for the the City Council to move forward with at their next council meeting this Tuesday, December 1st.

This is a milestone in Save the Fair‘s objective to lock in the land-use of the fairgrounds through a citizen-passed Ballot Initiative.  No matter what happens to the property going forward, it will always be used for our County Fair.

Here is the full text on the 4 different options, but I will list them here and give a brief summary as well.  Our choice is the same as Staff’s; Option 4 will allow us as citizens to become actively engaged in the ongoing discussion to Save our Fair.

Option 1) “Place the existing 2000 General Plan designation of ‘Fairgrounds’, and accompanying Land Use Element text on Ballot”

This option will not work since the existing text describes the property as ‘owned by the State of California’ and will be obsolete if the property is ever transferred from the state.

Option 2) “Place the Existing Zoning District of ‘Institutional and Recreational’ and accompanying zoning regulations on Ballot”

Two main faults with this option:

  • I&R zoning can be broadly applied to a variety of uses
  • A General Plan amendment could be processed at a later date without voter approval to overrule this.

Option 3) “Prepare and adopt a Fairgrounds Specific Plan and Place on Ballot”

Staff is already preparing this and most likely will not be completed in time to get on the June ballot

Option 4) “Prepare and adopt a General Plan Amendment and Place on Ballot”

The clear option to Save the Fair through citizen interaction and input – explanation below.

The current wording in the General Plan clearly needs to be amended in order to, as staff puts it, “recognize the City’s land use authority at such time the Fairgrounds is no longer owned by the State.”

In addition, a General Plan amendment will allow us as citizens to engage our City to define permissible land uses for the property through the upcoming discussions that this amendment will have to go through – both in the Planning Commission and City Council meetings.

Also, this process is a necessity as our current General Plan will become obsolete should the sale go through and leave us unprotected.  Who better to amend the General Plan to define the Fair than the citizens themselves?

Lastly, this process can be completed in time to make the June ballot.

We are confident the City Council will go with this option tomorrow night – so the most important work from there will be done at the upcoming Planning Commission meetings where the actual language will be decided upon by citizens like you.  We will keep you posted.


Jim Righeimer, Save the Fair


Save the Fair on KOCI

November 23, 2009

I was invited yesterday on KOCI 101.5 FM Sunday Brunch Show with Dr. Barry to discuss Save the Fair efforts to date. If you have not listened to them you should. They are a locally owned non-profit radio station that plays classic rock, local artist’s and cares about our community.

I explained how this community is working together to save the fair. Since we have started we have accomplished several goals. First we pushed (gently nudged) the Costa Mesa City Council to trust the public and put a zoning vote on the June 2010 Ballot. There was not a sense of urgency until we showed up. They agreed to put an initiative on the ballot and now the development community has backed off. Real Estate developers have enough problems in this economy without trying to fight the citizens of Costa Mesa.

Lastly, we have been urging the city of Costa Mesa to make an offer to buy the Fairgrounds from the state. The City council heard us and they voted to proceed with the process to make an offer to buy the property. We believe that for the good of everyone involved, this property should be owned by a public agency.

Our first choice would be for the City of Costa mesa to be that agency. The property is located in Costa Mesa and they have worked with the County Fair since becoming a city in 1953. If Costa Mesa wins the bid to buy the property we would ask the city council to put the purchase to a vote of the people on the same June 2010 ballot.

We believe that the citizens of Costa Mesa have the best interest for all concerned with keeping our beloved Fair, Equestrian center, Marketplace and Centennial Farm. Let’s continue working together to Save our Fair.

-Jim “Riggy” Righeimer

Save the Fair Overview 11/19/2009

November 20, 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,  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.


Jim Righeimer

5-0 Vote to Start Up Ballot Initiative

November 4, 2009

fireworksLast night was a great night for the Save the Fair effort!!  The Costa Mesa City Council voted 5-0 to direct staff to begin putting a ballot initiative together to lock in the fairgrounds zoning. 

This is the first step towards taking back local control over our County Fair, and I want to thank everyone for their help and support.  With the citizens of Orange County and particularly Costa Mesa, united together, this can be a great way for all of us to make sure the OC Fair stays as it is for a long time to come. 

We have a long road ahead of us, but we are headed in the right direction, and I want to sincerely thank all of you, as well as the Costa Mesa City Council for their support of the fairgrounds.

Please become a Facebook fan of Save the Fair if you haven’t already, or urge your friends to do the same. 


Jim Righeimer

Big News for Save the Fair Advocates!

November 3, 2009

In case you haven’t heard, Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor has placed on the agenda a directive to immediately have staff process everything necessary to have the citizens of Costa Mesa vote in June to lock in the zoning for the Fairgrounds.  We expect a 5-0 vote.  This will give a loud message to all potential developers and speculators that the citizens will do whatever it takes to Save The Fair.

Our main objective here at Save the Fair is to protect and lock in the zoning of the fairgrounds for generations to come so that no matter who buys the property from the state knows it can only be used as a fairgrounds. 

Please come to the meeting tomorrow night to show your support, and if you haven’t already, become a facebook fan here.

Welcome to Save the Fair!

October 22, 2009

SavetheFairLogoThe cash-strapped State of California put the Orange County Fairgrounds on the auction block. Bids are due in January 2010. The City of Costa Mesa, where the property is located, has a General Land Use designation as Fairgrounds. If the voters of Costa Mesa do not lock in the zoning with a vote of the people it can be changed with only three votes of this or any future city council.

If the zoning is changed to residential or Retail/Office the property could be divided up and sold off into individual pieces. The residents of Orange County would lose forever the County Fair, Swap Meet, and Equestrian center – just a few of the of the uses the fairgrounds serves today.

Please sign up for the email newsletter below and add your name to the list of supporters to show our strong grass-roots support. We will keep you updated in the process as we move forward.

You can also go here to read my weekly Rigonomics columns on Saving the Fair, as well as other Costa Mesa and Newport Beach issues. Or check out my Twitter updates @jimrigheimer or @savethefair, or become a Facebook Fan.

Thanks for your interest and all the best,
Jim Righeimer