Approval is near on an agreement that will ensure the Orange County Fair will remain in Costa Mesa for at least another 55 years, Mayor Allan Mansoor said Wednesday.
City Council members met late into the night Tuesday to give tentative approval to what Mansoor called a public-private partnership for the 150-acre fairgrounds involving Facilities Management West, which is led by the Fait Family Trust and David Pyle, who owns American Career College and West Coast University.
State officials decided to put the property up for sale last summer to help cover the state's budget deficit. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office gave city officials an ultimatum to approve a proposed $96-million proposal to acquire the property this week.
``We were told if we didn't vote on it by yesterday the deal is off and they'll put it up for sale and I didn't want to roll the dice on that,'' Mansoor said.
City Councilwoman Katrina Foley cast the lone dissenting vote.
Mansoor characterized the public-private partnership as a ``long-term lease,'' and the city will pay off the money in about 40 years on the 55-year agreement.
However, Facilities Management West will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the fairgrounds.
Voters earlier this month approved Measure C, which locks down the zoning for the fairgrounds and makes it impossible for anyone to use the property for anything other than its use as a home for the annual county fair, the weekend marketplace and equestrian center.
``There's no such thing as a perfect deal, but it's better than what we have now and better than if we didn't go forward with it,'' Mansoor said.
The City Council still has to give final approval to the acquisition, Mansoor said.
``The final exact wording (on the contract) still has to come forward, but this was a substantial milestone,'' Mansoor said.
Mansoor said he would have liked more time to consider the specifics of the deal.
``Ultimately, I only had a yes or a no vote, I didn't have a maybe or a let's-put-it-off-a-little-while-longer vote,'' Mansoor said.
Best of all, Facilities Management West will make the down payment, provide the capital and ``quite frankly take on a lot of the risk,'' for the cash-strapped city that had to lay off two dozen more employees Tuesday to balance the budget, Mansoor said.
``It'll be a great source of revenue that will have the potential to revitalize our local economy by bringing new events to our community,'' Mansoor said.