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Activists celebrate bid rejection

March 18, 2010

The Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society held a news conference Thursday to thank Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Department of General Services for rejecting the seven bids placed on the 150-acre property in Costa Mesa.

But it’s not over, the activists say.

The state still wants to sell the land in an effort to get out of the real estate business and shore up its ailing coffers.

If the showdown between the state and the locals over selling the fairgrounds were a football game, this would only be half time, said Orange resident Reggie Mundekis, an outspoken opponent of the sale.

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“It’s not done yet,” Mundekis said. “What happened is they just rejected the bids, but there’s no real indication that the governor is keeping it and we have to figure out other alternatives.”

The fairgrounds was put up for sale in October as a part of a plan to sell California’s high-valued assets and balance the state budget.

Although the state was hoping to earn between $96 million and $180 million from the sale, the highest offer at live auction was $56.5 million from Craig Realty Group, a Newport Beach-based outlet developer.

Now the city is working with the state to find a way to help preserve the fairgrounds and keep it under local control. Among the steps the city has taken is authorizing a ballot measure that would lock-in the land for fair and exposition uses.

Measure C will be on the June ballot as a special city election.

— Mona Shadia


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