Patrons of the weekend swap meet held on the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. Costa Mesa is in negotiations to buy the fairgrounds from the state. Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro

Two local legislators have joined the goal-line stand to stop Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from pushing the sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds through before his term expires at the end of the month.

State Sen. Lou Correa has gone public with his calls for the attorney general to force legislative approval of the controversial sale. Meanwhile, Assemblyman Jose Solorio is proposing legislation that would stop the purchase of the 150-acre Costa Mesa tract by the private company Facilities Management West.

Correa, a Democrat who represents central Orange County, said he pressed the issue face-to-face with Gov.-elect Jerry Brown in Sacramento on Monday during the swearing-in ceremonies for state legislators.

Correa said he reminded Brown, who is the current attorney general, of a letter he sent in November asking the Attorney General’s Office to advise Schwarzenegger that any sale of the Fairgrounds requires legislative approval.

In his letter, Correa told Brown that “the process involved in this proposed sale has been tainted and continues to concern me.”

Correa said he also called on Brown to review the terms of the proposed sale and hold off on any final transaction until he was inaugurated.

“It’s our fiduciary duty to protect California taxpayers and their assets,” Correa said, adding that he was also against Schwarzenegger’s efforts to sell 24 state buildings to help balance the budget.

While Correa is pressing Brown, Solorio, who is also a Democrat, introduced legislation that would immediately require a basic appraisal of the Fairgrounds property before any final price could be negotiated.

Given the complexity of appraising such a historic and unique property, such a process would surely keep the deal from being finalized before Dec. 31 and all but kill the sale’s chances.


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