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Latino lawmaker won't work to block O.C. Fairgrounds sale despite Costa Mesa's immigration stance

Assemblyman Jose Solorio says he's disappointed in the city's recent declaration that illegal immigrants are unwelcome but will support California's sale of the fairgrounds to the city.

July 02, 2010|By Mona Shadia, Los Angeles Times

A member of the California Legislature's Latino caucus said lawmakers do not intend to block the planned sale of the state-owned Orange County Fairgrounds to Costa Mesa based on the city's controversial stance on illegal immigration.

Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) of the Latino Legislative Caucus said that he and others are disappointed that the City Council declared Costa Mesa a "rule of law" city but want the best deal for taxpayers when it comes to the fairgrounds sale.

"I think we're at the stage that the city has worked in good faith with the state," Solorio said. "I'm going to sit down with both the city and the state to learn about the agreement and make sure it's good for the residents of Orange County, and also good for the taxpayers of California, and find out if I could possibly help the city move forward with the proposal."

Solorio did not say if his fellow caucus members will follow suit to help the city acquire the 150 acres.

"I think that's a separate conversation, and I'm very displeased that the City Council took that action," Solorio said.

Though largely symbolic, the city's declaration says that illegal immigrants are unwelcome in Costa Mesa.

Last week, after months of negotiations, the state announced it had tentatively accepted Costa Mesa's $96-million offer for the fairgrounds.

In an effort to save taxpayers money, the city reached a deal with Facilities Management West, a Newport Beach-based real estate company, to finance the purchase and operate the property. Although Costa Mesa will not have much oversight of the fairgrounds' day-to-day operations, the city will benefit financially from the deal.

Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley commended Solorio for his position. "I would expect nothing less from Jose," she said. "He's a reasonable guy."

"To me, this is a nonissue," she added. "There's more important things they are dealing with right now, like a major budget crisis. The issue is simply political grandstanding. Hopefully, everyone saw it for what it was and is going to be practical and pragmatic in terms of the fairgrounds."

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