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No official details yet for special fairgrounds meeting

Orange County Fair Board will meet Friday on sale details the board members 'need to know.'

September 15, 2010|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — The Orange County Fair Board plans to hold a special meeting Friday on the sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds, but details of the agenda were not made public.

Some sources connected with the issue say the board plans to take action to challenge the sale of the fairgrounds by the state, which is accepting bids on the 150-acre property to shore up funds for California's ailing budget.

But Board Chairwoman Kristina Dodge said that the meeting has something to do with "information that we have discovered. It's not new information, but information that we need to let the board know about in regards to the original sale of the property."

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"It's information that may or may not be relevant," she added. "It may indirectly affect the sale, but it's pertinent information that I thought everybody should know about it. It may have a big impact. It's definitely important enough that I thought we should meet so that everybody has the information."

Dodge said that convening the special meeting at such short notice without giving the public 10 days notice — as required by the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act — could be justified under the law's provisions.

According to the agenda, Bagley-Keene stipulates that the board make a finding that the 10-day notice would "impose a substantial hardship on the body or that immediate action is required to protect the public interest."

"We felt that this information should be out there sooner than later, because it may have an impact on the sale," Dodge said. "It may not, but if it has a significant impact on the sale, it should be out here. That's my belief."

The Fair Board has suggested a profit-sharing model, where the state would retain ownership of the fairgrounds, but also benefit financially from its revenues. Currently, the state doesn't take or give any money to the fairgrounds.

The deal between the state and the city, which offered $96 million for the property, stalled after Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana), who was the point person in the state Legislature on the matter, decided to drop his support for the deal.

For the fairgrounds to be sold to the city, the Legislature must approve any deal, but so far, no legislator has offered to carry legislation that would allow Costa Mesa to purchase the fairgrounds.

The sale became even more complicated in August after the state put the fairgrounds up for sale for the second time in a year, setting a minimum price of $96 million. Interested bidders have until Sept. 30 to submit an offer.

If You Go

What: Orange County Fair Board special session

When: 10 a.m. Friday

Where: Administration Building, Orange County Conference Room, OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa.

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