Monday, November 30, 2009

"Fairy" Tales

Ah, the wheels of progress move slowly - sometimes.

Those of us following the potential sale of the Orange County Fair and Exhibit Center (Fairgrounds) were astounded at the rapidity with which The State bureaucracy moved in getting the ball rolling. To many of us it seemed like a blur, and we wondered what caused this aberratio
n in the normal method of doing business. Ben Franklin was right - haste does make waste.


When the Request For Proposals (RFP) was initially issued there were some elements
that needed much clarification. Thanks to an alert reader of this blog, who pointed out to me today that on November 10, 2009, officials from The State issued Addendum #1, which promised clarification on three points no later than November 23, 2009. Those items were:

State's Profit Participation Requirement

Auction Format
Purchase and Sales Agreement

On November 23, 2009 The State issued Addendum #2, which said, in part:

"Addendum No. 1 dated November 10, 2009 indicated that additional information would be
posted November 23, 2009. The posting of this additional information is herein postponed

The additional information will be posted in a subsequent addendum which will also
include a revised schedule of Key Dates as identified on page 10 of the October 7, 2009
Request for Proposal.

While the November 23, 2009 dead
line for questions regarding the RFP has passed, the
Key Dates will be revised to include a new deadline for submission of questions pertaining
to the additional information.

All other aspects of the request for proposal remain unchanged."


So, concerned that important elements of the RFP would not be available by the deadline for bids - January 8, 2010 - I called Dave Kalemba at the Department of General Services in Sacramento for clarification. He's the fellow who wrote the RFP.

Kalemba acknowledged that the second sentence of the first paragraph above might be a little misleading - now, there's a surprise! - and that he probably could have found a better way to make that statement.

In any event, he told me it is his intention to provide the clarifications mentioned above as soon as possible - which he hoped would be within a couple weeks. He acknowledged that bidders must have the information to appropriately assess this process and to make a proper bid.

I asked him who has the authority to stop the sale at this time. He said that any direction to take the Fairgrounds off the market must come from the governor's office. It is my understanding that representatives of city government hope to get an audience with the governor to specifically request him to do just that - take the Fairgrounds off the market.

The Costa Mesa City Council, at it's meeting Tuesday, December 1, 2009, will again consider two Fairgrounds issues. First, in a closed session that will begin at 4:30 p.m., they will consider the purchase of the Fairgrounds.

Later, in the last item on the agenda, they will consider options presented by staff regarding the zoning of the property and the creation of a ballot measure for the June, 2010 election. We expect there to be some significant progress at that meeting since it is the final regularly scheduled meeting of the year except for the Study Session scheduled for December 8, 2009. According to the agenda report now available, the staff will recommend that the council consider a General Plan amendment to revise the land use designation of the Fairgrounds property and, once adopted, include that designation as part of the ballot measure. Any future changes to that property would then require a vote of the people.

I found the language of "Option 4", the choice of the staff, to be interesting. It states as follows:

"OPTION 4: Prepare and adopt a General Plan Amendment and Place on Ballot
Given the deficiencies of Option 1, staff recommends that the "Fairgrounds" land use designation as described in the 2000 General Plan be appropriately amended to further define permissible land uses for the property in a "broad" sense and to recognize the City's land use authority as such time the Fairgrounds is no longer owned by the State.

Staff believes that this amendment can achieve the "certainty" that both Council and the community desire for the property, while retaining the appropriate degree of flexibility in administering future land use decisions and permits. As with the specific plan, the amendment will require public hearings before both planning Commission and City Council prior to adoption, as well as preparation of the necessary environmental documentation. However, staff believes that this amendment can be processed within the necessary time frame."


I'm curious about the term "broad", above. Just how "broad" are we talking about here? I think we need some clarity on this one, don't you? I wonder how many interested parties will show up at the council meeting tomorrow night? The decision the council makes on this issue will be critical to any bids submitted on the property, including any such bid the city might put forth.


I'm led to believe that "thousands" of postcards to the governor were signed at the Orange County Marketplace over this past weekend. It would be nice if those city representatives hoping to speak with him could lug those cards with them for presentation to the governor as reinforcement of the strong views held about the Fairgrounds sale down here.

By the way, just in case you missed the performance by Huntington Beach blogger and activist Vern Nelson at the last council meeting, here he is via YouTube with his rendition of "Tainted Sale".



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