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Solana Beach OKs funds for fairgrounds impact study

SOLANA BEACH — Council members at the March 25 meeting approved a $30,000 expenditure to pay the city’s one-third portion of a long-awaited study to determine the impacts events at the Del Mar Fairgrounds have on Del Mar and Solana Beach.

The study, which will be conducted by Economic & Planning Systems, is a requirement of a February 2013 settlement between the two cities, the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority and the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which governs the fairgrounds.

It will determine the costs associated with services such as law enforcement and emergency responders, capital replacement and maintenance of infrastructure provided by Solana Beach and Del Mar.

The study must also assess how much money the two cities receive from transient occupancy and sales taxes, off-track betting and all other receipts and income directly paid or generated by the activities.

The cost for the $90,000 study will be equally divided among Del Mar, Solana Beach and the 22nd DAA.

More than 300 events are held annually at the state-owned facility. The consultants will collect data from a representative sampling of those.

They will also conduct intercept surveys of attendees, vendors and employees at the five major ones: the National Horse Show, Good Guys Car Show, San Diego County Fair, summer horse races and Kaaboo, a music festival being held for the first time in September that is expected to attracted 120,000 people during its three-day run.

A request for proposals was issued Oct. 24. By the Dec. 5 deadline, nine applications were submitted. Four companies were interviewed.

All three agencies agreed EPS was best-suited for the study.

The company performed economic analyses for the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, Orange County Fairgrounds and Westworld, an equestrian center and special event facility in Scottsdale, Ariz.

We were very impressed with them after we went through the interview process, City Manager David Ott said.

Data collection is slated to begin in mid-April, in time for the car show. Because a large crowd is expected at Kaaboo, the two cities and 22nd DAA wanted it included in the study.

Draft results are expected to be presented by November.

Ott said the results should “put to rest in most people’s minds” exactly what the impacts are.

“This is a long time coming,” Mayor Lesa Heebner said, adding that “it’s a step in the right direction” that illustrates the cooperation between the agencies that has developed through the Community Relations Committee, a group of representatives from Del Mar, Solana Beach and the 22nd DAA that meets monthly.

Del Mar City Council approved the contract at its March 16 meeting.