Photo by Jennie Warren

Cotton Candies All Around: Costa Mesa, Orange County Approve Pact to Buy Fairgrounds

The county and the city of Costa Mesa just announced that the two government entities have approved a memorandum of understanding to purchase the Orange County Fairgrounds, which is state-owned property Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to sell. A private foundation composed of members of the public Orange County Fair board previously indicated it wanted to buy the land and facilities, but the foundation has imploded in recent weeks due to corruption and conflict-of-interest allegations.

The city/county joint press release follows after the jump . . .

Dec. 16, 2009


Santa Ana--The Orange County Board of Supervisors and Costa Mesa City Council have approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the proposed purchase, governance, and operation of the Orange County Fairgrounds.

"This partnership between the County and the City of Costa Mesa to preserve an important community resource is based on our common belief that the highest and best use of this property is for the benefit of the public," said Supervisor John M.W. Moorlach, Second District. "We appreciate the excellent cooperation demonstrated by the City and look forward to working with Costa Mesa on this important undertaking."

"The City Council strongly believes that the best solution for the taxpayer is to halt the sale," said Mayor Allan Mansoor.  "If this outcome is not possible, then the partnership we are creating to secure this treasured asset is the next best alternative."

"The primary goal of the Board of Supervisors is to ensure that this property remains OrangeCounty's Fairgrounds," stated Supervisor Bill Campbell, Third District. "While we will continue to urge the State to stop the sale of the property, this action protects our ability to submit a competitive offer to acquire the fairgrounds and exhibition center at auction."  Council Member Gary Monahan added, "Saving the Orange County Fair and EventsCenter is what we all want to accomplish.  A City/County alliance is an effective structure that will make our joint bid more competitive."

Central to the agreement is the belief that the cancellation of the sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds is in the best interest of the public. However, if the sale cannot be stopped, the County and City want to be prepared to submit a bid in the State's Request for Proposals process and have a plan in place for joint governance of the Fairgrounds.

Should the County and City be successful in their efforts, the creation of a Joint Powers Authority is envisioned to govern, finance the purchase, and operate the Fairgrounds with the financial backing of the County and City. Through approval of the MOU, the County and City have also reaffirmed to the State their commitment to maintain the Orange County Fairgrounds in perpetuity as a public facility.


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