Call Solorio and Correa TODAY: Stop this rotten Fairgrounds deal!

JOSE SOLORIO 714-939-8469, or 916-319-2069
LOU CORREA 714-558-4400, or 916-651-4034.

I’ve been writing about what a terrible deal Costa Mesa was snookered into making with Facilities Management West, turning over public control of the Fairgrounds to the above guy until the year 2066 – for not really that much money.  And I’m working on Chapter 3 of my Great Fairgrounds Swindle saga – “Threats, Bribes, and Videotape.”

But meanwhile time is ticking by, and we could be doing something now to stop this travesty, and we’re not.  Our sources in Sacramento tell us that the legislature could easily stop this deal cold in its tracks, sending the city and state back to the drawing board.  Our sources tell us that the key legislators who could make this happen are Orange County’s two Democrats, Assemblyman Jose Solorio and Senator Lou Correa.  Our sources tell us that these two gentlemen need to hear from their constituents on this matter, but “the silence has been deafening.”  So let’s fix that.

If you already know what a bad deal it is, and how the threats forcing Costa Mesa to accept the deal were pure hot air, then please go ahead right now and make these two calls, asking them to say NO to the Sale, and to send Facilities Management West packing!

JOSE SOLORIO 714-939-8469, or 916-319-2069
LOU CORREA 714-558-4400, or 916-651-4034.

For now, here’s a very helpful summary of what we’ve figured out so far, in question and answer form, from the Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society:


Are the Fairgrounds still at risk?

YES!  The City of Costa Mesa is negotiating to buy the Fairgrounds from the State, but the City has also agreed to lease the land and all rights to a private company, Facilities Management West.

Won’t the City of Costa Mesa still control the property?

NO!  Once a year, the City will meet as the “Orange County Fairgrounds Authority” to make suggestions.  FMW can choose whether or not to respond, with no accountability to the public.

Doesn’t the agreement require that existing uses be maintained?

Well, sort of.  The agreement requires that the annual Fair, the Centennial Farm, the Youth Expo, the equestrian uses, and a “marketplace/swapmeet continue, but FMW will be able to relocate and re-size any of the required uses, so long as they’re kept in SOME form at a minimal size.  We may find community activities vastly scaled down in favor of more profitable enterprises.

Won’t the Costa Mesa General Plan and Measure C protect the Fairgrounds?

No!  The general plan lists what is allowed at the Fairgrounds, but doesn’t require that any specific uses be retained.  Besides, under the new agreement, FMW will be able to build and operate other uses, not permitted under the general plan, as long as 3 out of 5 members of the Fairgrounds Authority agree!

Why should we be concerned?

The Fairgrounds could be turned into a convention center, a version of LA Live, or worse.  One version of the FMW agreement actually discussed revenue from a sign program “similar to LA Live.”  That’s no longer specifically included, but it’s not prohibited either.  Some lease documents refer to an entity called “Orange County Fair Amphitheater Market and Expo, LLC” – i.e., OC FAME.

But, isn’t it better to get more revenue, so the City will have more money for essential services like police and fire protection?

NO!  The agreement CAPS revenue to the City, so extra revenue from more intense uses will all go to FMW/OCFAME.  Besides, if they have events like the RAVE recently held at the LA Coliseum, costs for Emergency Services could easily eat up ANY return to the City.

Why not just wait and see how it goes?

Costa Mesa is ready to sign the final contracts and the lease will last 55 years! Till 2065 or 2066!  Once the agreements are finalized, we’re stuck for generations.

What can we do to stop this?

See above – call Jose Solorio and Lou Correa TODAY and ask them to stop this rotten deal.  Ask them to provide for openness and public accountability in future governance of what is STILL OUR Fairgrounds.  Keep the Fairgrounds a property of the people! And stay tuned to this page…

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.