DEL MAR–The City of Del Mar announced Thursday that it has been given preliminary agreement by the state’s administration to purchase the Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack, keeping one of the county’s most popular sites in the public domain.
“We are looking forward to continuing to work with those interested in this sale to reach the Legislature’s and the Governor’s support,” says Richard Earnest, mayor of Del Mar. “The fairgrounds and horseracing are long-standing traditions in our county. Our purchase of the grounds will enable us to protect those traditions, as well as to preserve the jobs they support.”
By keeping the site in the public trust, the city would also be able to continue its strategic environmental support of the neighboring lagoon and river.
The city is continuing to work with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Office to acquire the fairgrounds.
Dating back to July 2009, the city has discussed the item in public at regularly scheduled council meetings. The council authorized Mayor Richard Earnest to send a letter to the governor expressing its interest in acquiring the fairgrounds. The governor responded affirmatively and he indicated that he felt that the fairgrounds should be in local control. Since that time the city has been working diligently to find a way to acquire the property without putting the city’s finances at risk. Key to the city’s plan is to keep this property in the public trust for the region and to preserve the fair, horse racing, and the environment.
The fairgrounds, which are located primarily in the City of Del Mar, make up 20 percent of the city’s geographic area. Although the city is the lead agency in the purchase agreement, it will likely not be involved in the operation of the Fairgrounds. A separate board with regional representation, comprised of non-elected professionals with related operational experience, is being considered to run the Fairgrounds. Currently a board of governor appointees oversees operations and maintenance.
The pending purchase, which is supported by Senator Christine Kehoe, County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego and Mayor Morris Vance of Vista, would not require taxpayer support.