Two Weeks Left For Costa Mesa to Strike a Deal with State on the OC Fairgrounds

Norberto Santana, Jr. over at the, has a status update on the negotiations between the state and the city of Costa Mesa over the sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds. Santana reports:

A lot must happen for the city officials to meet that deadline, and right now they aren’t even close.

In fact, City Manager Alan Roeder said he’s not sure what “making it” means in terms of what has to be accomplished this month to satisfy the governor.

“It’s a really tight deadline,” Roeder said. “It’s a difficult position to be in.”

Orange County, which at one point was Costa Mesa’s partner in the deal, has walked away. County leaders are now saying the $100 million price tag for 150 acres between the 405 and 55 freeways is too high and they don’t want to put taxpayers on the hook in a budget-cutting environment.

Jim Righeimer - Facebook Photo

Santana also reported in a blog post today about some problems regarding participants on the negotiating team.

Would This Guy Help or Hurt Fairgrounds Negotiations?

Things could get interesting at tonight’s Costa Mesa city council meeting as city officials meet in closed session and consider adding Republican activist and planning commissioner Jim Righeimer to their fairgrounds negotiating team.

Given his real estate and finance background, the thinking goes that Righeimer could be helpful in looking over deal points because the city is cash-strapped for consultants and on a tight deadline.

But activists against the sale of the fair who met privately with Righeimer last November say his approach – and tactics – make them wary of adding him to the already-delicate deal.

For example, Righeimer allegedly threatened to use his connections to pull the equestrian lease at the site and yank the contract for the vender who runs the weekend swap meet on the fairgrounds.

Santana is at the Costa Mesa Council meeting tonight so check back on Voice of OC tomorrow to find out what happened. You can read the rest of Santana’s blog post here.