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Orange County

Opposing Sale, Board Says Fairgrounds 'Highly' Used

August 27, 2004|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

In an effort to discourage the state from selling the Orange County Fairgrounds for needed cash, directors for the county fair voted Thursday to adopt a resolution saying the state-owned property is a valuable public resource.

The state recently listed the Costa Mesa fairgrounds as underused, and noted that by selling it the state could make as much as $230 million.

But after speakers urged board members Thursday to save the fairgrounds, the directors approved a strongly worded resolution.

"The board of directors for the Orange County Fair & Exposition Center respectfully submit that the OCFEC is an example of highly utilized state property with an annual attendance of 4.3 million and an economic impact of $185.2 million ... and should not be considered surplus property for sale," the resolution stated. "Further, the board supports reform of state government that leads to greater accountability, efficiency and responsiveness to the public."

The idea of putting the fairgrounds up for sale came this year when Assemblyman John Campbell (R-Irvine) suggested selling most of the property to help ease the state budget crisis.

The California Performance Review, a volunteer commission with 275 members, drafted a 2,500-page report that said the sale of state property -- including the fairgrounds -- for housing would bring in millions.

During Thursday's five-hour meeting, about 40 members of the public expressed their feelings about the proposal.

"The comments were overwhelmingly in favor of us staying right where we are," said Lisa MacDonald, spokeswoman for the board.

"There's nothing we can do but take the comments and pass that on to the [state] commission."

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