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County Leaders Mull Broader Representation On Fair Board


Dave Roberts, SD County Board of Supervisors, District-3

Terry Sinnott, Mayor, City of Del Mar


The 22nd Agricultural District Board, known these days as the Fair Board, has existed since the 1880s, and San Diegans have been going to the Del Mar Fair since 1936.

"I think all of us maybe remember the first time we went to the Fair," said County Supervisor Ron Roberts, at a public hearing to discuss ways to increase local control over the Fairgrounds.

That’s why mayors from as far away as La Mesa and Chula Vista came to give their opinions on who should be on a new "joint powers authority" to manage the Fairground. They joined council members from Del Mar and Solana Beach, as well as a cross section of community members, to urge the county to move ahead with negotiations with the state.

The Fairgrounds are owned by the State of California and the Fair Board is currently appointed by the governor. The county has negotiated for five extra members, one for each of the county’s five districts. The supervisors could appoint someone, or choose to take the seat themselves.

The other Roberts on the board, Supervisor Dave Roberts, represents the district that includes the Fairgrounds. He said this is about more than memories.

"This is a $90 million-a year-business enterprise, 24-seven, 365 days a year," he said. "It’s not just the Del Mar Fair or the horse racing."

Dave Roberts said nearby residents feel the most impacts. In fact, North County residents sometimes cannot get home if the freeway jams up, he said, and neighboring cities have an unfair public safety burden.

"Is there some way that Del Mar, Solana Beach and the City of San Diego could have input?" Dave Roberts asked. "I know by law they can’t have seats, but is there some way they could have a seat at the table?"

Dave Roberts represents people in all the cities around the Fairgrounds, but under the current proposal, he can only appoint one member to the board. However he suggested it might be possible to include a city representative as a non voting member.

The five supervisors voted unanimously to continue negotiations with the state and to put the matter back on the agenda in 60 days.

KPBS' Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to this segment
KPBS Intern Rashmi Chugani assisted in this segment.

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