TimesOC: With stroke of governor’s pen, no more gun shows at O.C. fairgrounds

"Sign up for our TimesOC newsletter" and the L.A. Times logo over the Huntington Beach Pier at sunset.
TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Oct. 13. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you today’s TimesOC newsletter with the latest roundup of news and events.

In 2020, nearly 1.7 million guns were registered statewide, according to the attorney general’s office. In that same year, 2,202 homicides — a 31.1% increase over the 2019 figure — were recorded in California. Lawmakers appalled by the statistics have continued to craft bills aimed at bringing them down.

A small piece of gun control legislation penned by a state senator from Orange County was one of several signed into California law Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Senate Bill 264, authored by Sen. David Min (D-Irvine) was whittled down significantly from its original intent, reports my colleague Sara Cardine, to the point that it now focuses narrowly on banning gun sales at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa.

Min had originally hoped to ban gun sales at all state-owned properties, but in late August his bill was amended by the Assembly Appropriations Committee so that only the 32nd District Agricultural Assn., which is better known as the O.C. fairgrounds, would be prohibited from selling guns or ammunition.

So, effective Jan. 1, no longer will the fairgrounds be hosting the popular Crossroads of the West gun show, an event that fairground officials say have raised in the neighborhood of $7 million since 1995. Min says while it is not his job to make up the revenue lost, he has secured $5 million for the fairgrounds to host a Sustainability Decathlon.

Another Orange County legislator, state Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), successfully shepherded her bill, AB 1057 to the governor’s desk. Her bill allows law enforcement officers to seize unlicensed “ghost guns” from individuals with domestic violence or gun violence-related restraining orders. The text for that bill can be found here.

“California has the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, but we’re reminded every day that we can’t afford to be complacent in the fight against the gun violence epidemic in this country – we can and must do more,” Newsom stated in a news release issued Friday, the day he signed the latest suite of firearm-related bills. “Today’s action strengthens enforcement of our common-sense gun safety laws, helping ensure that dangerous individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms surrender their weapons and advancing other lifesaving polices to make our communities safer.”

Gun enthusiasts check out sporting rifles during Crossroads of the West Gun Show in March at the OC Fair & Event Center.
Gun enthusiasts check out sporting rifles during Crossroads of the West Gun Show in March at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)


— Last week the all-consuming O.C. news was the oil spill off Huntington Beach. Current estimates of the spill’s size range from 24,696 to 131,000 gallons. This week, as beaches have reopened fully to the public and more information comes to light, it appears O.C.'s coast dodged what could have been a far worse disaster, according to reporting Tuesday by our colleagues Hannah Fry and Robin Estrin. Those with an interest in the history of the oil industry in Huntington Beach (in its pre-"Surf City” days it was proud of its “Oil City” nickname) will learn much from reporter Christopher Goffard’s in-depth look here.

Jan. 28, 1940: The Huntington Beach coastline in 1940 was a forest of oil derricks.
Jan. 28, 1940: The Huntington Beach coastline in 1940 was a forest of oil derricks. Oil discoveries in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Santa Fe Springs in 1920 and 1921 drove massive drilling.
(Ted Hurley)

— Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer announced Monday that the Newport Beach homeowner involved in a fatal shooting in August has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. “A homeowner has the absolute right to protect themselves from someone who breaks into their home in the middle of the night and threatens their safety,” said Spitzer in a statement.

— The treasurer of the Fountain Valley Rotary Club confirmed last week that the Walk for Vietnam, an event intended to raise awareness of and funds for those suffering from the impact of the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus in that country, had strong community support. The Oct. 2 event raised $63,500 for the effort.

— O.C. residents struggling to make ends meet and finding themselves in arrears on rent payments can send out an S.O.S. to the Community Action Partnership of Orange County. Gregory C. Scott, CAP OC president and chief executive, says the organization has stabilized more than 525 people through $567,000 in rental assistance
this year alone. Learn more here and here.


—While the Dodgers and Giants met this week for their division series (last night’s game results were not available as of this newsletter’s deadline, alas), longtime Angels fans may have been reminded of the time their team came this close to advancing to their first World Series. Tuesday marked “the 35th anniversary of the most devastating loss in Angels history, 3 hours and 54 minutes of twists and turns that played out like a Shakespearean tragedy,” writes L.A. Times sports writer Mike DiGiovanna in a deep look back at that Oct. 12, 1986 game between the Halos and the Boston Red Sox.

— In Garden Grove League action Friday night, the Los Amigos High School football team scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives in the fourth quarter of a road game against Bolsa Grande High, coming away with a critical 21-14 win to bolster the team’s playoff hopes.

Los Amigos' Alex Le (1) scores to increase the Lobos' lead to 21-14 over Bolsa Grande.
Los Amigos’ Alex Le (1) scores to increase the Lobos’ lead to 21-14 over Bolsa Grande in a Garden Grove League football game on Friday.
(James Carbone)


— A Laguna Beach business owner who operated a newsstand in the downtown area that was closed in June reopened Saturday at a new indoor location. Heidi Miller says the proximity to hotels of her new World Newsstand on South Coast Highway will be a boon to her walk-in traffic. “I love having the newsstand because we’re keeping print alive in a digital age, and to me, as long as I break even, I’m happy,” Miller told reporter Andrew Turner. “I love keeping something alive and not letting it become a dinosaur.”

Owner Heidi Miller stands inside the World Newsstand's new location on Saturday at 687 S. Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

— A family outing to Hana Field, a 30-acre plot of flowers tucked off Sunflower Avenue between the 405 and 55 freeways can yield not just a colorful u-pick bouquet these days, but also a pumpkin, my colleague Sara Cardine reported last week. “You get the experience of harvesting your own pumpkin,” field manager Brandon Flores said. “You come here, and you can say, ‘I picked it myself.’ Home Depot doesn’t give you that. Grocery stores don’t give you that.”

Molly Cabrera, center, holds a mini pumpkin as she joins family members at the Hana Field pumpkin patch at Tanaka Farms.
Molly Cabrera, center, holds a mini pumpkin as she joins her brother, Chris Villegas, right, his wife, Jess, and their two sons, Xavier, 5, far left, and Johnny, 2, on Friday during the Hana Field pumpkin patch at Tanaka Farms in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)