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February 2018

January 2018

$252,369 Contract for a Master Site Plan Process Has Unmet Needs & Unanswered Questions

What They Arent Telling You (1)

The Master Site Plan process cost the Public who own the OC Fairgrounds $252,369, and the Public was allowed one (1) meeting to have input. Work on the Master Site Plan started in October 2016. Board members, executive management, staff, and contractors were given opportunities for input to steer the process before the Public was given their one (1) meeting in June 2016.

The contract cost was increased by 30% in October 2017 with the contract amendment not made public until December 2017. When CEO Kathy Kramer was asked why the 30% increase in the contract amount was needed, CEO Kramer could not explain why the additional funds were required or what would be done with the additional funds. CEO Kramer claimed that the scope of work or deliverables had not changed and that the schedule had not changed even though the contract now cost 30% more, which does not make sense. CEO Kramer also could not explain why the contract was extended by a year.  

The contract with the Master Site Plan contractor is here: Download Johnson Consulting Amended Agreement

The proposal for Master Site Plan services which is now defines the work to be performed is here:

 Download Johnson Consulting Response to OC Fair Master Site Plan MS-12-16 8.19.16...

How Does the OC Fair Compare to Other Fairs?

Corn Dog Question (2)

OC Fair is the 8th largest fair in attendance in the US & Canada according to Carnival Warehouse News. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is #1. San Diego County Fair (Del Mar, CA), Canadian National Exhibition (Toronto, Ontario Canada), and Eastern State Exposition (West Springfield, MA) are larger than the OC Fair. The 2017 OC Fair was larger than the LA County Fair (Pomona, CA), Iowa State Fair (Des Moine, IA) and Oklahoma State Fair (Oklahoma City, OK).

2017 Top 50 Fairs from Carnival Warehouse

Demolishing a Project Built in 2012 is Proposed in the Master Site Plan

In the three Master Site Plan proposals presented in September 2017, two proposals included removing the current Main Mall to create open space and erecting massive convention and expo buildings on the grassy area between the buildings and the parking lot.

Aspirational_CentralCampus_Sept 17 Board

Bold_CentralCampus_Sept 17 Board

The current Main Mall was constructed under project number C0732X.454 starting on February 1, 2012, at a cost of $3,402,000 with Saunders Construction as the primary contractor for the project. Main Mall features were designed to incorporate tributes to the Santa Ana Army Air Base and agriculture.  Board Directors Nick Berardino, Doug La Belle, Ashleigh Aitken, Stan Tkaczyk, and Gerardo Mouet were on the Board at the time this project was completed. It's not clear why demolition of the Main Mall built less than ten years ago is proposed, but it is clear that the demolition would be waste of public money.

More Events, More People, More Traffic

Significant increases in use of the Fairgrounds are part of the Master Site Plan proposals. 

Increased Use_Sept 17 Board

Adding this number of events adds traffic to the streets and roadways in and around the Fairgrounds. Many of the new events would be held during the week, adding to the daily rush hour traffic.  The Fair Board has a goal of heavy year round daily use which will impact the neighborhoods in and around the Fairgrounds.  Each of the additional events brings Fairgrounds and event staff, delivery trucks, staff to set up and tear down, trash hauling trucks, and parking lot sweeping, among other increases in traffic besides the event attendees.  Work at convention and expo centers can go on at all times of the day, including late at night, as equipment is loaded in and out and trash hauled off. 

Fairgrounds neighbors who bought their homes in a residential neighborhood next to schools and parks will now find themselves living next to a convention and expo center.  Fair Board members who live in Las Vegas, Newport Beach, Irvine, Lake Forest, Anaheim Hills, Orange, Santa Ana and the far corner of Costa Mesa are doing things to the College Park, Mesa del Mar and Vanguard neighborhoods of Costa Mesa that they would not welcome next to their homes.   These neighborhoods need to speak up before they lose their residential neighborhoods.

Using Fairgrounds to Improve Access to Food in Our Communities

A bill to find new ways to begin to end hunger in California by improving distribution to those in need of food in our communities and college campuses has been introduced the State Assembly. Assembly Bill 1952 designates "food hubs" to increase food distribution into communities. The use of fairgrounds as food hubs is included in the bill.

Download Bill Text - AB-1952 Social services: access to food.

Follow the Progress of AB 1952

Three Master Site Plan Proposals to Make the OC Fairgrounds into a Convention & Expo Center

In September 2017, at the Fair Board meeting at 9 AM on a Thursday, when the majority of residents are at work or at school, the Fair Board presented three Master Site Plan proposals which move the OC Fairgrounds away from being a fairground and into being a convention center. This is a map of what we have now at the OC Fairgrounds:

Existing Facilities_Sept 17 Board

The least the Fair Board wants to build includes doubling the size of the Administration building and adding a 50,000 sq ft "Ag-Expo Hall".  Adding an expo hall which is about the size of a football field and which will be two or more stories tall is a lot of building to add, especially when the Fairgrounds can't rent out the space they already have. The Ag-Expo Hall may have the word "Ag" short for agriculture in the name, but this is whitewash and this 50,000 sq ft expo building is for convention and exposition use. 

The view of the entire site for Concept 1: "Minimal":

Minimal_Sept 17 Board

Close up of the Main Mall area for Concept 1: "Minimal":

Minimal_CentralCampus_Sept 17 Board

And here is what needs to be demolished to make Concept 1: "Minimal" work:

Minimal_Demolition_Sept 17 Board

A second proposal has the 50,000 sq ft expo building, which can grow to 125,000 sq ft. That is a building two or more stories high and about one to two and a half football fields in size.  A  40,000 sq ft "Educational Meeting Center" with a 20,000 sq ft ballroom is proposed behind Centennial Farm. There are no plans for an arts school at the Fairgrounds which would use the "Educational Meeting Center" for education. This building is another convention and expo building with a fancy name to distract you from what is being done. 

The view of the entire site for Concept 2: "Aspirational":

Aspirational_Sept 17 Board

A close up of the Main Mall for Concept 2: "Aspirational":

Aspirational_CentralCampus_Sept 17 Board

And what must be demolished to build Concept 2: "Aspirational":

Aspirational_Demolition_Sept 17 Board

There is more to be done in Concept 3: "Bold" which has the 40,000 sq ft building behind Centennial Farm, an expo hall between 75,000 sq ft and 150,000 sq ft, and a wind turbine farm  (WTF) in the parking lot next to Newport Blvd. The WTF extends along Newport Blvd to Fair Dr.  This proposal has between 115,000 sq ft to 190,000 sq ft of new buildings, which is about two and a half to nearly four football fields of space. It is not clear why all of  this new space is needed because much of the space currently at the Fairgrounds sits unused much of the time. No member of the Public asked for the WTF, but the Board wants the WTF. If the Board didn't want this plan, why would the Board direct this plan to be drawn, right?

The entire site for Concept 3: "Bold":

Bold_Sept 17 Board

Close up of the Main Mall for Concepts 3: "Bold":

Bold_CentralCampus_Sept 17 Board

And what needs to be demolished to construct Concept 3: "Bold" with the WTF:

Bold_Demolition_Sept 17 Board

The whole presentation at the September 2017 Board meeting is here in two parts because the files are large:

Download Sept 17 Board Master Site Plan Presentation Part-1

Download Sept 17 Board Master Site Plan Presentation Part-2


The Board has refused to provide the Public, who own the Orange County Fairgrounds, with substantive information about what is being done on the Master Site Plan since the September 2017 presentation of these proposals. Work continues to move the Master Site Plan forward, to flesh out concepts and to figure out how much money the Fairgrounds is going to make from these plans, but the Fair Board only states that they are meeting in backrooms to make decisions which the Fair Board refuses to let the Public participate in the process or to see what is being done to the property the Public owns. 

Fair Board Meeting on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 9 AM

Fair Board Meeting (2)


The OC Fair Board meets at 9 AM * on Thursday, February 22, 2018. A cost benefit analysis is being done regarding the Master Site Plan. The work is supposed to be done in mid-February. The Board has refused to provide the Public with updated information regarding what is being decided in the back room. Agenda to be posted on Feb 12, 2018.

The Board meeting is held in the Administration Building at 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Due to construction on Arlington Drive, enter through the Main Gate on Fair Drive and drive around the Pacific Amphitheatre to reach the Administration Building. 

*They choose to meet at this time.

How Can I Contact Fairgrounds Staff?

Chicken Scooter Question (2)

Kathy Kramer, CEO



Ken Karns, VP of Operations 

Oversees safety, security, facilities, equestrian center, entertainment booking and ticketing, parking, and the Master Site Plan process, among other duties



Michele Richards, VP of Business Development 

Oversees event bookings and scheduling, sponsorships, community programs, and community exhibits during the OC Fair, among other duties.



Jason Jacobsen, Director of Technology and Production

Oversees compliance with noise limits in the neighborhoods and event production, among other duties.  The buck stops at Mr. Jacobsen's desk/phone/email for noise issues.


How Long Do Fair Board Directors Serve on the Board?

Chicken Question (2)

That’s an interesting question because it’s not as clear cut as it used to be. Directors are appointed for a four year term but can be removed by the Governor at any time for cause. California Food and Agriculture code covers State owned fairgrounds like the Orange County Fairgrounds. If the link doesn't work, go to the Food and Agriculture code and find section 3960.

FYI - We call it a fairground but the State calls it the 32nd District Agricultural Association or 32nd DAA.