Government

Supes Vote to Continue Del Mar Fairgrounds Talks

San Diego County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to continue talks with the state that could lead to more local control of the Del Mar Fairgrounds — home of two of the region’s most popular and traditional events, the San Diego County Fair and the Del Mar summer horse racing season.

Supervisors voted 5-0 to continue talks they started in October 2012 with California’s 22nd District Agricultural Association to create a Joint Powers Authority with local appointees that would take over operating and maintaining the local landmark.

The Board directed County staff to return in 60 days with a proposed Joint Powers Authority agreement they could consider for approval.

The state of California owns the fairgrounds and the agricultural association has operated it on the state’s behalf for decades. But in 2009, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested the state would be willing to sell the fairgrounds to generate cash to help pay off state debt.

That prompted an unsuccessful bid by Del Mar residents and leaders to buy the operation. In 2011, current Governor Jerry Brown canceled all sales of state-owned properties.

However, local interest in having a greater say in the operations of the fairgrounds remained and the County began talking with the agricultural association in October to see if they could collectively create a Joint Powers Authority that could run the fairgrounds.

The existing agricultural association has a governing board consisting of nine members appointed by the governor. The proposed Joint Powers Authority would allow each of the five County supervisors to appoint an additional member, bringing the Authority’s governing board to 14. Board members could appoint themselves or another representative.

The state would continue to own the 340-acre fairgrounds property and the horse racing track would continue to be operated by the State Race Track Leasing Commission and the Del Mar Race Track Authority. But the new Joint Powers Authority would give local representatives an important say in the day-to-day operations of the fairgrounds.

 

 

 

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact