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Solana Beach Weighs In On Debate Over Future Of Del Mar Fairgrounds

Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner wants State Senator Christine Kehoe to amend her bill that paves the way to sell the Del Mar Fairgrounds to the city of Del Mar.

Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner calls for a change in state legislation that would open the door to the sale of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, to increase local control.
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Above: Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner calls for a change in state legislation that would open the door to the sale of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, to increase local control.

Heebner said she supports a plan for the state to sell the Del Mar Fair grounds. But she is not happy with the idea that the city of Del Mar would be the sole owner.

Del Mar's plan is to buy the site for $120 million, and manage the property through a Joint Powers Authority, including Solana Beach, the City and County of San Diego and the non profit San Dieguito River Valley Authority.

But Heebner said the Joint Powers Authority should own the land as well.

“Right now we have faith in the City of Del Mar and who their city council members are,” Heebner said. “But we don't know what's going to happen 10, 15 years into the future, and that's what we're concerned about, that's what we're protecting against."

Tim Fennell, CEO of the 22nd District Agricultural Association which currently runs the Fairgrounds, said he appreciates that Solana Beach has included the Association in their discussions, something the City of Del Mar did not do as it was negotiating with the state. But Fennell said he’ll be shocked if the state does eventually go through with the sale of the property.

Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gave his blessing to the possible sale as a cost cutting measure to help the state budget. But Governor Jerry Brown has not yet indicated his position on the plan.

Senator Kehoe's office said, since the bill to sell the land did not go through before the end of last session, the legislation has to start from the beginning again. When it is assigned to a committee, probably in several months, Solana Beach’s suggested amendment could be considered.

Meanwhile, the Fair Board meets next week to consider a Master Plan proposal for the Fairgrounds, which includes condos and a new hotel.

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