Police staff back for the fair

COSTA MESA — The Police Department plans to rehire seven employees to manage the traffic flow around the Orange County Fair.

Of the seven Police Department employees who were laid off as part of city budget cuts, three were part-timers who provided general aid and four were full-time community service specialists.

But each will be rehired as temporary part-time employees to direct overflowing fair traffic, Lt. Marty Carver said.

The employees will begin July 16, the first day of the fair, and continue with the city until Aug. 15, the last day of the fair.

"If we didn't get the opportunity to hire them back, we wouldn't be able to meet the demands of controlling the traffic," Carver said.

The City Council this week entered into a traffic management service agreement with the Orange County Fairgrounds. The contract, which the city and the fairgrounds adopt annually for the fair, amounts to a maximum of $380,000 paid to Costa Mesa.

Arranging for the employees to come back during this year's fair worked out well because the layoffs took effect in close proximity to the start of the fair, but the city will have to figure out something else to manage the fair traffic in 2011, Carver said.

"That's something that we have to look at next year," he said. "We'll probably have to hire temporary traffic control personnel to manage the fair."

It takes anywhere from 13 employees during the week and 26 on weekends to manage the fair traffic, Carver said.

The fair had more than a million visitors last year.

Although the police department will use some of its officers to manage the traffic, the department needs outside assistance to handle the workload, he said.

In addition to the employees managing the traffic, the Police Department also has a sergeant and an officer on duty to manage the fair, Carver said.

On Saturdays and Sundays during the fair, visitors may use the Experian parking structure, off Anton Boulevard near the Bristol Street exit, for free, fair officials said.

Shuttle service is also available to take fairgoers to the fair and bring them back to their cars.

"If people can avoid all the traffic, they can use (the shuttles) and make the experience much more enjoyable," Carver said.

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