It's Almost Like Torture...
It seems like it will never stop! This whole Fairgrounds Sale thing is like a Chinese water torture... it just keeps on dripping and dripping and dripping until your head feels like it's about to explode!
The latest droplet is found in the agenda of the Special Costa Mesa City Council meeting scheduled for next Tuesday, December 15th. This meeting will have two Closed Session items, one of which deals with the Fairgrounds purchase. The other is a discussion of potential litigation.
MOU TO BE CONSIDERED
However, in the open session there is scheduled, "Memorandum of Understanding with the County of Orange for a submission of a bid for the Orange County Fairgrounds".
In the staff report, after a lengthy and thorough summation of events surrounding the potential sale of the Fairgrounds, they present the council with three alternative courses of action. First is "No Bid", in which the city would "choose to focus all its efforts towards stopping the sale and implementing the Specific Plan and the General Plan initiative."
2-GO IT ALONE
Second would be "City Purchase", in which the city would submit a bid to acquire the Fairgrounds and "assume 100% of the financial risk & liability and full responsibility for future operations."
3-SPREAD THE COST AND RISK
Finally is the option called, "Partnership with the County of Orange", in which the City would partner with Orange County in the purchase of the Fairgrounds and share the financial and liability risk. In recognition of the very recent vote by the Board of Trustees of the Coast Community College District, the staff implies that this option "might also provide for other public agencies to participate as equity partners or under some alternative arrangement." This would involve contracting the operation of the Fairgrounds with a third party.
DOOR NUMBER 3 IS PREFERRED
The staff is recommending the third option and has prepared a Memorandum of Understanding for a partnership with the County. Apparently the County will consider this MOU at their meeting earlier in the day, so any changes suggested then will be included in the staff presentation Tuesday night.
RELUCTANT PARTICIPATION MAY PRESERVE THE SITE
It seems to me that none of the entities potentially involved here REALLY want to get into the Fair business, but they've been left no choice because this snowball is rolling down hill, gaining speed and increasing size and complexity. None of the entities want to see the Fairgrounds sold to "the highest bidder", who may plan to level the site and put in some kind of development - homes, commercial buildings, etc. Preservation of the Fairgrounds in its current state seems to be the goal.
FAIR BOARD SHOULD BE SANCTIONED
If the State legislature passes Assemblyman Jose Solorio's AB 1590, which kills the sale authorization, or if the governor does the right thing and orders the Department of General Services to cancel the sale, all this goes for naught. All this angst, turmoil and expense being born by the government agencies will become moot. We can thank a misguided and greedy Fair Board for all of this and hope the legal system of this state will provide sufficient sanctions for all of this. In any event, they should be replaced by the governor.
GENERAL PLAN AND BALLOT MEASURE SHOULD GO FORWARD
As I've said before, even if the sale does get stopped the City of Costa Mesa should proceed with its plans for a General Plan amendment and a ballot measure on the June, 2010 ballot to firmly cement the uses of that site unless changed by another vote of the people.
So, let's all just sit back this weekend and enjoy the rain that passes for holiday weather in these parts. Finish your Christmas cards, wrap those presents and enjoy one of the best of the Christmas tunes ever...