O.C. Fairgrounds, group settle over PacAm renovation

The Orange County Fair Preservation Society plans to drop its lawsuit against the Orange County Fairgrounds over a proposed renovation of the Pacific Amphitheatre, a member of the heritage group said Thursday.

The society's Sandy Genis said members agreed to abandon the lawsuit challenging the legality of improving and remodeling the concert venue without updated environmental studies if fairgrounds officials agreed to consistently monitor noise levels and provide residents with an open line to voice complaints.

Fair officials were not immediately available to comment.

"I'm hoping this is a continued process of making sure that the communication lines are always open," said Genis, a former mayor running for City Council in November. "In recent years, they've been doing a really good job of controlling noise from the amphitheater. We wanted to make sure that that would continue because I believe this board is committed to controlling noise but you never know about a future board."

Last fall, the Orange County Fair Board approved an initial $4.5-million upgrade to the amphitheater slated to begin next month. The entire project is estimated to cost $18.5 million and reduce seating from about 18,000 to 8,500.

When the venue opened in 1983, its owners were soon swamped with complaints and litigation from residents. The Fair Board bought the facility in 1995 and quickly sued previous owner Nederland Organization once the board learned of the restrictive noise ordinances for Mesa del Mar residents. Since then the fair and Costa Mesa city leaders have pledged to keep the noise emanating from the amphitheater to reasonable levels.

The arena hasn't received major renovations since 1985, officials said last year.


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