O.C. Fairgrounds sale may fall through, legislator says

Although there’s still a chance that a bill allowing Costa Mesa to buy the Orange County Fairgrounds will be presented alongside a state budget bill, an area legislator warned Monday that the deal might not go through.

Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Garden Grove) is in favor of keeping the fairgrounds in local hands. But he said that if the sale to the city and its private partner, Facilities Management West, does not guarantee accountability and transparency to the public — and ensure that the fair will remain in place indefinitely — then he will not support the agreement.

“I’m concerned with the entire package right now, frankly,” Tran said.

Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana), who has taken the lead on the matter, said he’s working with all parties to ensure that the deal is good for the public. He said he is also addressing the fate of the 80 full-time state employees who work at the fairgrounds.


No bill on the fairgrounds’ sale has been completed for submission.

Solorio wrote in an e-mail Monday that he’s still discussing outstanding issues with Costa Mesa officials and is hopeful that all matters will be resolved.

“From my conversations with him,” Tran said of Solorio, “I don’t get the sense that he’s certain” about filing the necessary legislation to complete the purchase.

For the city to finalize the purchase from the state, the Legislature must give the deal the green light. Talk of the Latino Caucus not supporting the purchase dominated the state Capitol after Costa Mesa passed a resolution calling itself a “rule of law” city, one that does not welcome illegal immigrants.


Solorio, a member of the Latino Caucus, has said that although he is critical of Costa Mesa’s resolution, he doesn’t plan to block the city’s purchase of the fairgrounds.

The pressure to complete the transaction intensified last week when the state put the 150-acre fairgrounds up for sale for the second time, in the belief that the city and Facilities Management West would not be able to complete the purchase.

The state’s Department of General Services, which is in charge of selling the fairgrounds, set a Sept. 30 deadline for all interested parties to come forward. The state is seeking a minimum of $96 million for the fairgrounds to be sold as is.