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Court denies Sierra Club’s request for fairgrounds

DEL MAR — San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal on March 13 denied the Sierra Club’s request for a stay and temporary restraining order of two coastal development permits for the Del Mar Fairgrounds approved by the California Coastal Commission in November 2013.

The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against the commission and the 22nd District Agricultural Association challenging the commission’s issuance of the permits.  The Sierra Club asked the court to issue the stay and temporary restraining order on an emergency basis, giving the 22nd DAA less than 48 hours’ notice of the hearing.

The permits in question are the result of the historic consent cease and desist and restoration orders signed by the commission and the 22nd DAA in early 2012. The orders resolved longstanding Coastal Act issues between the two agencies regarding use of the fairgrounds property and provided the groundwork for the 22nd DAA to comply with the Coastal Act, including the recently approved permits.

The permits authorize a second thoroughbred horse racing meet in the fall, as well as permanent nonfair and nonrace uses and parking on the east overflow lot, overflow parking on the Golf Driving Range, and other events on the main fairgrounds property.

The commission’s approval of the permits also triggers a $5 million restoration of the remaining portion of the south overflow lot, approximately 9.5 acres, to fully functioning wetlands. The court determined that the 22nd DAA’s routine maintenance and long-standing level of current activities on the fairgrounds would not damage the environment, and denied the requested stay and temporary restraining order. A hearing on the Sierra Club’s request for a preliminary injunction has been set for July 25.