March 2011 home page

  Trust the Fairgrounds
Sam Borgese | 10th Street


Governance Model from the City website.


The Del Mar City Council found itself in a quandary at its February 7 meeting. Should it proceed “in principle” with a new governance model for operating the fairgrounds or should it first set up a process for citizen involvement? Their painful dilemma was how to reconcile the need for secrecy and speed to satisfy regional and state political pressure and local pressure to use the “Del Mar Way” of citizen participation. In the end the Council with some reluctance approved the proposal unanimously, while promising more local involvement later.

The proposal consists of three related pieces: (1)a Public Benefit Trust,(2) a non-profit Governing Board, and (3)a private operator of the Race Track. (see the diagram below).

(1)The Trust would ensure the property is used for public benefit in perpetuity. Del Mar would own the property and retain zoning and development authority. San Diego would have similar power in the small portion of the property within its jurisdiction.

(2)The non-profit Governing Board would be established under a lease agreement with Del Mar to independently operate and manage the Fairgrounds for the public benefit. Nine members would be appointed from Del Mar, Solana Beach, San Diego, the County, San Diego Farm Bureau, San Dieguito River Park, and three from other cities on a rotating basis.

(3)A private Race Track entity would be established subject to State licensing requirements.

Council Member Filanc stated that this modified governance model was developed in response to suggestions and concerns expressed by various stakeholders in the region. It clearly responds to the current Fair Board’s propaganda campaign against “Del Mar control .” He acknowledged that the process made it difficult to involve local residents but gave assurance that the final product would be available for scrutiny by Del Mar citizens before final approval. He also asked that the negotiations be included as a regularly scheduled agenda item from now forward. Other citizen involvement efforts are under consideration by the Council.

In the meantime, this proposal will be included in all deliberations with the Governor’s Office, Senator Kehoe, and the State Legislature.



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