[UPDATED:] OC Fairgrounds Preservation Society Raises Fears About an Electric Daisy Carnival There

UPDATE: Costa Mesa approved the fairgrounds deal (see end of post) . . .

The Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society (OCFPS) warns warned Tuesday evening may be the last chance for the public to be heard on the future of the exposition facility in Costa Mesa--at least for the next 55 years.

Those fears came true.

The Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society fears fairgoers are being taken for a ride.
The Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society fears fairgoers are being taken for a ride.
Photo by Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly

The OCFPS also raised fears that the new operators will present an all-day, electronic-dance event like the Electric Daisy Carnival on the 150-acre property. A 15-year-old girl died at June's Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles.

The OCFPS is composed of fair workers, former fair workers and Orange Countians opposed to the state's sale of the fairgrounds to the city of Costa Mesa for $96 million.

Former Costa Mesa Mayor and City Councilwoman Sandra Genis is the president of the OCFPS, and among its directors is Jeff Teller, whose Orange County Marketplace outdoor shopping attraction is held weekends at the fairgrounds when the Orange County Fair is not running.

It initially appeared the city was going to partner with Teller's company to manage the fairgrounds after the state signs off on selling the property. But the city later switched gears and signed a management deal with a new company called Facilities Management West (FMW). The sale is still pending.

It is FMW's inexperience at running fairgrounds, the 55-year deal that gives the city little say on how the facility is operated, and the prospect of historic features being demolished by the new fair operator that most spooks the OCFPS.

But don't take my word for it, visit OCFPreservationSociety.org. See the contents of an OCFPS flier about Tuesday's meeting about the fairgrounds after the jump . . .

UPDATE: The Costa Mesa City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night for a $453 million deal to allow FMW to operate the fairgrounds for 55 years. The Newport Beach company would finance the $96 million to be paid to the state for the property, which over the course of the deal would actually pay California $218 million. The city would receive $234 million from FMW over the life of the lease. Councilwoman Katrina Foley cast the lone no vote on the lease agreement, which may be moot because without legislative approval of the Costa Mesa deal, the state has again put the fairgrounds up for bid. Offers will be taken through September.

LAST CHANCE to be heard on
OC Fairgrounds Sale for 55 years!

The City of Costa Mesa has formed a special agency, the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority (OCFA) to purchase the Orange County Fairgrounds from the State and they want to lease the Fairgrounds and all rights to Facilities Management West (FMW), a private company with no previous experience in managing a fairgrounds or other similar facility, for fifty-five years. This is a bad deal for the public!

The OC Fairgrounds is the only such facility in the entire state to be sold.

Why are we they only ones forced to make such a sacrifice?

Your voice counts. Attend this hearing, as the final lease will be considered (wear red):

5:30 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Costa Mesa City Council Chambers-
77 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

As currently proposed, the lease:

  • Fails to provide any accountability to the public
  • Provides little guarantee regarding existing and historic uses
  • Guarantees the destruction of historic structures by giving FMW the right to demolish any structure under 5,000 square feet at will.
FMW would have total control of the property for the next fifty-five years with just nominal public oversight. Once a year, the OCFA would meet to offer suggestions regarding operations at the fairgrounds. FMW could ignore or respond to those suggestions at its sole discretion.
FMW would have the right resize and relocate existing uses at will, cutting community friendly uses to accommodate more lucrative uses. Ken Fait, an FMW partner, stated "I want all the money" at a public hearing, so expect a big increase in prices for events and parking. You can also expect more and bigger events so FMW can get "all the money."
When you have more traffic and trash in your neighborhood, you'll have to save your comments for the annual meeting, where FMW can choose to respond--or not. When concerts and other events are too noisy, save your comments for the annual meeting, where FMW can choose to respond--or not. If they hold a three-day rave at the fairgrounds, like the Electric Daisy Carnival Concert held in Los Angeles where a young teenager died...
Well, you get the picture. And let's face it, even if the City/OCFA met weekly to listen to concerns about the fairgrounds, it really wouldn't matter, since FMW is not legally bound to take any suggestions.
This cannot be allowed to happen! Please attend the meeting at 5:30 pm Tuesday evening. Contact the Costa Mesa City Council (op2council@ci.costa-mesa.ca.us ; 714-754-5285), and demand that they provide for openness and public accountability, as promised in future governance of our fairgrounds.

This may be your last chance to be heard--for fifty-five years.

For more information and help with the fight go to: www.OCFPreservationSociety.org

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