Fairgrounds use to be clarified

Costa Mesa officials vote to amend general plan describing property’s usage. Their next step is to put amendment on June ballot in effort to lock in its use.

February 03, 2010|By Mona Shadia

The Costa Mesa City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to amend its general plan for the Orange County Fairgrounds to further describe and clarify the land use the city will allow for the 150-acre property. Councilman Eric Bever was absent.

The city’s next step is to place the amendment on the June ballot in an effort to lock in the land use as a fair and exposition center and place its future in the hands of the voters.

The amendment clarifies the types of activities that can take place on the fairgrounds and expands the description of the land use, including providing a guideline on what can and cannot be done on the property. The amended general plan states that the fairgrounds should be used to hold the annual four-week summer fair, which attracts about a million visitors every year. It allows the usage of equestrian centers, agricultural and livestock activities, the weekly swap meet, concerts, live entertainment and emergency operational uses.


The amendment prohibits future owners from turning the fairgrounds into shopping centers, casinos, medical buildings, residential buildings, storage facilities, hotel and motels, exclusive or dedicated usage by athletic sports fields or educational uses that are unrelated to the fair and exposition center.

The City Council will be scheduled to vote to place the approved fairgrounds general amendment on the June ballot Feb. 16.

Placing the initiative on the fairgrounds is estimated to cost the city more than $130,000.

This comes as a result of the state’s attempt to sell the fairgrounds, a move Costa Mesa has opposed from the beginning.

In October, California placed the fairgrounds for sale as part of a plan to liquidate high-valued state-owned properties to help close its budget deficit. The state was looking to make between $96 million and $180 million from the sale of the fairgrounds.

However, the fairgrounds was auctioned off for $56.5 million in January to Newport Beach-based Craig Realty Group, an outlet developer.

The fairgrounds is not yet sold, and officials from the California Department of General Services, which is in charge of selling the fairgrounds, are reviewing the realty group’s bid to determine whether selling it will be beneficial to the state. The state is expected to make a decision in April.

If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger chooses to accept the realty group’s offer, the sale of the fairgrounds is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.

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