Debate continues over the sale of OC Fairgrounds

Listen to story

Download this story 0MB

The state of California wants to sell the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. But the board that runs the Fairgrounds says it’s not clear that the state actually owns it. The Fairgrounds board is sending the governor a letter about that today.

With the blessing of the governor and lawmakers, the state has been trying for two years to sell the Fairgrounds to raise money. It wants at least $96 million. But last week, the Orange County Fair board made a discovery that could foul up a sale for years.

It found old paperwork that says the federal government sold the Fairgrounds more than 60 years ago to the “32nd District Agricultural Association.” Here’s why that’s significant: the “32nd District Agricultural Association” is better known today as the Orange County Fair board. In other words, the state might be trying to sell the Fairgrounds property when it doesn’t own it.

There are all kinds of questions – isn’t the “32nd District Agricultural Association” a state agency anyway? Wasn’t the money to buy the Fairgrounds in 1949 put up by the state? Can’t the governor fire the Fair board and appoint people who won’t interfere with his plan to sell the Fairgrounds?

The Orange County Fair board is sending the governor a letter today to get those answers.