Renaissance Pleasure Faire officials must stop selling tickets or face possible prosecution for promoting the spring festival on a site not yet approved by county planners, the Ventura County district attorney's office said Wednesday.
County prosecutors drafted a warning letter to fair organizers after learning that ticket brochures are advertising the fair's location as the proposed site between Moorpark and Thousand Oaks, Deputy Dist. Atty. Gregory W. Brose said.
Brose said that fair organizers have not yet applied for a permit to use the 130-acre site, called Moorpark Farms, for eight consecutive weekends beginning May 6.
Even if a permit application were filed this week, Brose said, it is unlikely that the site would be approved in time because of lengthy permit procedures and public opposition to increased traffic.
"The way these tickets are presently being offered is misleading advertising because they can't guarantee they are going to be able to put the event on at that location," said Brose, head of the consumer and environmental protection division of the district attorney's office.
Fair spokesman Eric Stoltz said organizers plan to apply for a conditional-use permit this week and are confident of its approval by May 6. He said that attorneys for the fair will meet with Ventura County prosecutors today before deciding whether to stop selling tickets for the Moorpark Farms site.
The proposed site is in the Tierra Rejada Greenbelt, an unincorporated area of eastern Ventura County, and is about a quarter of a mile west of the Moorpark Freeway. The site is bordered by Tierra Rejada Road on the north, Moorpark Road on the south and east and by hills on the west.
"We have already sold several thousand tickets to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which we hope will be held at Moorpark Farms," Stoltz said. "The exact date and the location of the fair may have to be changed, but anyone with a ticket will be able to attend the fair wherever it is held, and it will be held somewhere this spring."
Stoltz said that if the fair is not held at Moorpark Farms, ticket purchasers unhappy with a different location will receive refunds. The fair site could be changed because organizers have received "unsolicited invitations from areas in Southern California" that want to host the fair, he said.
"I don't understand all the fuss when other promoters sell advance tickets all the time," Stoltz said.
Brose said that if fair organizers continue to sell tickets for the Moorpark Farms site, the county may pursue either a civil or criminal action. Both would involve charges of misleading advertising, he said.
Paul Porter, a county planner, said the Moorpark Farms site is unlikely to clear all the permit hurdles for a May 6 opening date.
Residents who live near Moorpark Farms said that if planners approve the site, they will ask the county Board of Supervisors to overturn the decision based on traffic concerns. One group, Concerned Neighbors for the Preservation of the Tierra Rejada Greenbelt, has collected hundreds of signatures opposing the fair from Moorpark, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks residents, President Beverly Harris said.
Group members welcomed the district attorney's action Wednesday, Harris said. Residents have felt that fair organizers were "underhanded by not getting the recommended permits first before starting to sell the tickets," Harris said.
The ticket brouhaha follows a 10-month search for a new site after the Los Angeles County Planning Commission approved a developer's request to build a gated community on the fair's longtime site in Agoura.