This is a general summary of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process which does not include all scenarios.
You can ask the OC Fairgrounds to tell you specifically what the CEQA process is for the implementation of the Master Site Plan proposals. State law obligate the OC Fairgrounds to provide you with this information.
Learn more about CEQA from the California League of Cities
An agency proposes a project, which is evaluated to determine if the project falls under a previously approved CEQA document or has minimal potential environmental impacts which do not require a new CEQA process.
If a new CEQA process is required, the agency in charge of the project must notify the Public, any interested party, and many state and local agencies that there will be an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prepared. This is called a Notice of Preparation (NOP).
The NOP has a lot of important information you need to make your voice heard during the CEQA process: project information, who to contact, how to reach the contact person, and how long the period is for you to make comments. The comment period can be as short as 30 days. Once the comment period ends, you cannot submit comments.
During the comment period, you need to tell the contact person in writing how the project will cause problems for you and what your concerns are about the project. The comments are read and used to assist in preparing the EIR. A copy of the NOP for the most recent Costa Mesa General Plan Amendment EIR is available so you can see how this process works.
The Draft EIR is prepared and may include traffic, lighting, noise and other studies to identify and quantify potential environmental impacts. Identification of mitigation measures, which are ways to reduce or eliminate potential environmental impacts is a mandatory part of the EIR.
The Draft EIR is circulated for comments. Review the Draft EIR to check that your issues have been addressed to your satisfaction. Check that the information presented is correct and accurate, including checking for typos. When there are issues which must be addressed, such as inadequate mitigation measures, your issue not appearing, or errors, send a letter raising the issue. The agency preparing the EIR is supposed to address each and every issue raised in writing the Draft EIR.
The Final EIR is supposed to be circulated and include all of the comments received for the NOP and Draft EIR, along with the agency responses to comments. The agency must then adopt the Final EIR in its entirety before the project can begin physical work.