State: O.C. Fairgrounds no longer for sale

COSTA MESA — As the Orange County Fair opened its gates Friday, state officials said they are no longer looking to sell the fairgrounds.

Under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state Department of General Services, or DGS, was directed in 2009 to sell the property to help shore up the ailing state budget.

“DGS is not selling the fairgrounds now and the Department of General Services will be considering the pros and cons of selling state properties in the coming months,” said spokesman Ken Hunt.

The department was recently on the losing end of an Orange County Court of Appeal decision killing the sale of the 150-acre property to Newport Beach-based Facilities Management West.

The $100-million sale had been approved by the state, but some state lawmakers, Costa Mesa city officials and parties with a vested interest in the preservation of the fairgrounds sued, leading to their Court of Appeal victory.

“As a major party at interest, we have spent two years and significant resources scrupulously following the procedures outlined by DGS,” said Guy Lemmon, FMW spokesman. “So we are extremely disappointed that the misguided legal issues raised by the court will not be fully pursued. The sale was endorsed virtually unanimously by the Legislature and the previous governor and DGS used an open and fair bidding process in conducting the sale.”

Lemmon suggested that Gov. Jerry Brown had changed his position.

“Apparently, the governor — who represented DGS as attorney general during the entire process — now disagrees and is refusing to support the work of the professionals who conducted this sale. This decision will further discourage businesses to work with the state as the state attempts addresses the fiscal crisis.”