State Appellate Court Kills OC Fairgrounds Sale

A state appellate court today granted a permanent injunction against the state’s proposed sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds to Facilities Management West, ending a nearly two-year effort by the state to sell the 150-acre property in Costa Mesa.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana ruled unanimously that the proposed sale “cannot go forward” because the bidding process was flawed and that no real market value was ever really determined when the legislature authorized the sale in July of 2009.

“The [state] implemented a bidding system that contained no safeguards to ensure responsibility, or even that bids be materially responsive to the [state’s] own request for proposals,” wrote the three-judge panel in its decision.

The suit challenging the sale was brought last year by the Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society and a coalition of Orange County elected officials including State Senator Lou Correa, Assemblyman Jose Solorio and former Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley.

Other bidders on the property, including TelPhil Enterprises – which runs the OC Marketplace at the fairgrounds – and Advance Real Estate also filed suit.

A temporary restraining order was granted on Nov. 17 and lifted on Dec. 21, highlighting a last-minute drama in the Schwarzenegger administration as they tried to finish the deal off.