News Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe

Fairgrounds sale talk resurfaces

DEL MAR — An item on the agenda for this month’s Community Relations Committee meeting with the 22nd District Agricultural Association caught Solana Beach Mayor Tom Campbell “a little bit off guard.”
“It (had) to do with the potential sale of the fairgrounds,” he said. “It seems like it’s being put back on the front burner by certain people up in Sacramento. This is all speculation that I’m just putting together from the nature of our discussion (but) it appears that Del Mar has expressed interest or developed some sort of a proposal or whatnot to put in an offer to purchase the fairgrounds.”
About a year ago,
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
proposed selling the 340-acre state-owned site, which occupies nearly 20 percent of Del Mar, as a way to close a massive budget deficit. The potential sale was eventually taken off the table, but Del Mar sent a letter stating it was interested in possibly purchasing the property.
“That’s not a terrible secret,” Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest said. “That letter is still there. If the fairgrounds is put back on the list, we continue to be interested. What form that takes remains to be seen.”
Since Feb. 8, Del Mar has held six closed-session meetings that include an agenda item to discuss real property negotiations for several properties in the city. The negotiating parties are the state of California and city of Del Mar, with “price and terms” listed as under negotiation.
Del Mar Councilwoman Crystal Crawford said those closed-session meetings are one way for council members to remain “in the loop” on fairgrounds issues. She said no reportable action has been taken at any of the meetings so no information has been released.
She said there was no legislative action to sell the site, but “the property is on a list.”
“We are actively monitoring that,” Crawford said. “If there are any developments relating to the fairgrounds, we want to be right there. We’re trying to do our jobs if anything should happen.”
Linda Zweig, director of media relations at the fairgrounds, said the 22nd DAA was aware representatives from Del Mar had been to Sacramento “more than once.”
Crawford said she does travel to the state capital periodically, most recently to address Sen. Christine Kehoe’s bill to create a greenway along the fairgrounds and San Dieguito River. When asked if the greenway was the extent of her recent dealings with Del Mar, Kehoe said, “That’s the extent I want to comment on.”
According to the governor’s revised budget selling the Del Mar Fairgrounds is not back on the table. “But we’re always open to hearing from anyone who has thoughts or ideas about ways to save money,” Rachel Arrezola, a spokeswoman with the governor’s office, said.
Solana Beach council members directed the city manager to research the issue. “I had always hoped that if the state were serious about selling the fairgrounds, neighboring communities might want to form a partnership,” Campbell said.
“I’m a little disappointed that Del Mar wouldn’t approach Solana Beach for a joint closed session. We’ve always gone out of our way to help them.”