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Del Mar’s Quest To Buy The Fairgrounds

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Video published December 3, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Why does the City of Del Mar want to buy the Del Mar Fairgrounds? Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest held a press conference this week to answer questions about his city's interest in the site. KPBS Senior Metro Reporter Alison St. John gives us the latest info on the potential sale of the fairgrounds.

Why does the City of Del Mar want to buy the Del Mar Fairgrounds? Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest held a press conference this week to answer questions about his city's interest in the site. KPBS Senior Metro Reporter Alison St. John gives us the latest info on the potential sale of the fairgrounds.

Guest

Alison St. John, KPBS senior metro reporter

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

THE CITY OF DELMAR WANTS TO BITE THE DEL MARCH FAIRGROUNDS, AND THE BUZZ HAS IT GONE. WITH SPECULATION AND RUMORS. ON WEDNESDAY DELMAR 'S MAYOR RICHARD EARNEST HOLDS A PRESS CONFERENCE TO PROVIDE ANSWERS. KPBS REPORTER ALICE IN ST. JOHN WAS THERE AND IS WITH US NOW. ALLISON, IS IT OFFICIAL NOW THAT DELMAR IS TRYING TO BAIT THEM BACK BY THE FAIRGROUNDS QUICK.

THAT IS CORRECT. THE DELMAR CITY COUNCIL HAS TAKEN A VOTE REGARDING ITS INTENTION TO PURSUE THE PURCHASE OF THE FAIRGROUNDS.

WHAT.

WAS WHAT WAS WAS A WHAT WAS THE MAJOR POINT THAT THE MAYOR WANTED THE PRESS TO COME AWAY WITH SO THE PUBLIC WOULD UNDERSTAND SOMETHING QUICK.

HE SAID THAT THERE ARE LOTS OF MYTHS FLOATING AROUND, AND ONE OF THEM WAS THAT DELMAR WOULD WANT TO CONTROL THE ACTIVITIES OF THE FAIRGROUND. HE SAID, WE ARE NOT GOING TO CONTROL IT. WE WILL BUY THE LAND BUT THERE WILL BE ORIGINALLY APPOINTED BOARD WITH REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE COUNTY, VARIOUS CITIES AROUND, AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS, AND THE BOARD WILL MANAGE THE CURRENT PROPERTY.

WRITE-DOWN, THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA IS BASICALLY GOING TO THE BOARD.

THE GOVERNOR.

THAT'S RIGHT. SO WHO WOULD APPOINT THIS BALANCE BOARD QUICK.

EACH OF THE AGENCIES WOULD HAVE A REPRESENTATIVE ON THE BOARD. SO THE COUNTY WOULD HAVE WON, THE CITY OF DELMAR, J. JP HAYES WOULD HAVE WON, AND IT HASN'T YET BEEN DETERMINED AS TO WHO HOLDS THE DIFFERENT INTEREST GROUPS WOULD BE TO HAVE SOMEONE ON THE BOARD. BUT PROBABLY 9211 PEOPLE ON THAT BOARD.

THE FAIRGROUNDS ARE ACTUALLY LOCATED IN THE CITY OF DELMAR. WHY DID THEY WANT TO BUY THE FAIRGROUNDS QUICK.

WELL THE WAY IT IS BEING MANAGED RIGHT NOW IS NOT TO THEIR LIKING. AND THERE ARE MASTER PLANS AT THE FAIRGROUNDS WHICH WOULD PUT A LARGE HOTEL WITH CONDOS ON IT. I TALKED TO ONE RESIDENT WHO SAID THERE ISN'T A SENSE THAT THE DELMAR AIRPORT IS CONSIDERING THE THE NEEDS OF THE RESIDENT TRAFFIC. THEY NO LONGER HAVE A WAY OF GETTING OFF OF OF FREEWAY THAT AVOIDS THE TRAFFIC AND THEY WOULD RATHER HAVE RATHER HAVE AFFORDED IT WAS MORE SYMPATHETIC TO THE LOCAL RESIDENTS.

WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A FIGURE OF $120 MILLION. TO A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT IS PEANUTS WHEN IT COMES TO BUYING 400 ACRES, SOME OF WHICH IS WHAT LAND, BUT THE REST HAS THE RACETRACK AND THEN THE FAIRGROUNDS.

SO IT SOUNDS INEXPENSIVE. HOW DID THAT $120 MILLION FIGURE COME UP QUITE.

IT DEPENDS ON HOW THAT LAND IS USED. THE 120 MILLION IS SOMETHING THAT THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE ACTUALLY ESTIMATED AND THAT'S BECAUSE THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE WANTS TO SEE THE SITE IS THE WAY IT IS NOW. THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WANT TO SEE MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS ON THE SITE. THEY WANT THE FAIRGROUNDS TO BE PRESERVED AND THE RACING TO BE PRESERVED, AND UNDER THESE CONDITIONS, IF NOT MORE OF A BIG MONEYMAKER. PEOPLE WHO SAY IT MIGHT BE WORTH UP TO $1 BILLION, THEY ARE LOOKING AT IT WITH VERY DIFFERENT KINDS OF USES AND DEVELOPMENT.

AT $120 MILLION MAY NOT BE A LOT OF MONEY TO SOME PEOPLE, BUT FOR A LITTLE CITY, IT'S THE SMALLEST CITY. HOW CAN THEY AFFORD THAT QUICK.

THEY HAVE A PLAN WHICH INVOLVES THREE DIFFERENT ELEMENTS. ONE OF THEM IS BORROWING FROM THE STATE, ANOTHER IS TO USE BONDS, AND A THIRD IS TO INVESTORS WHO ARE HORSE OWNERS WHO WANT TO SEE THE KEEPING RACING IN THE COUNTRY. THOSE THREE THINGS WOULD'VE BEEN, AND HERE'S ANOTHER POINT THAT THE MAYOR WANTED TO MAKE. THE CITY OF DELMAR 'S FUND WOULD NOT BE AT ALL INVOLVED. IT WOULD BE AN ENTERPRISE FUND THAT OF THAT HANDLE THE FINANCING ARRANGEMENT AND SO THE CITIES FINANCING WOULD NOT BE AFFECTED.

CALIFORNIA WANTED TO SELL THIS, OR AT LEAST GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER WANTED TO SELL IT BECAUSE THEY NEEDED THE CASH. BUT IF THIS WOULD BE A BORROW- BORROW SITUATION, THERE IS NO CASH INVOLVED. ARE NOT MUCH.

THAT'S RIGHT, AND I THINK THE POINT BEING IF THE GOVERNOR SAYS THEY DON'T WANT TO SEE THE USERS CHANGE, THERE PROBABLY WOULDN'T BE ANY PROFIT THAN IS CURRENTLY BEING MADE. IT IS CURRENTLY SELF- SUFFICIENT. SO THE STATE WILL NOT SEE MUCH INCOME COMING FROM IT, AND THE REAL ISSUE HERE IS CONTROLLED. WHO CONTROLS IT. AND THE CURRENT FAIR BOARD BEING APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR IS NOT ACTUALLY CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNOR. I THINK WHAT OF THE MAIN ISSUES OF THIS WHOLE THING IS FOR THE BOARD REGIONALLY APPOINTED HAVE MORE ACCOUNTABILITY TO LOCAL DIFFERENT AGENCIES AGENCIES LIKE.

VERY BRIEFLY, CHRISTINE WILL INTRODUCE THIS LEGISLATION QUITE SOON. SHE IS ONBOARD WITH IT. WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN IN SACRAMENTO BEFORE IT CAN MOVE QUICK.

SHE HAS TO PASS THIS LEGISLATION AGAIN WHICH WOULD GIVE THE GREEN LIGHT FOR IT TO GO AHEAD. AND I JUST WANTED TO MENTION THAT THE FAIR BOARD IS NOW SAYING THEY MAY BE BACKTRACKING ON THEIR PLANS TO BUILD A BIG HOTEL.

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