Management Issues

How Should the OC Fairgrounds Budget to Better Serve the Community – Evening Meeting on November 14, 2019 (And What to Do With $62 Million in Cash Reserves)

Bullhorn Meeting (1)

The OC Fairgrounds is holding a budget meeting to discuss the 2020 budget and capital expenditures plan during the evening on Thursday, November 14, 2019, starting at 6:30 PM in the Administration Building. Input from the public is needed regarding revenues, operating expenditures, and capital expenditures.


URGENT: Requests to the Board to Change Format of Meeting

We need to ask the Board to make this into a public workshop, rather than just a public meeting. a public workshop will allow members of the public to have more than one 3 minute speaking time to make input, and allow them to request and receive answers from staff. These requests need to be sent to the Board well before the meeting so that the format may be adjusted.


URGENT: Requests to the Board to Require Meaningful Budget Development Background

In the past, the budget was presented a list of revenues and expenditures which happened to add up. Download 2019 Budget 

A slide presentation provides only a little more detail, but staff avoided being specific on how the numbers were calculated and how money would be spent. Download 2019_Budget_Presentation

The Board needs to receive requests, beginning now, that the public expects to see full backup on the development of the budget numbers and the rationale for the budget priorities.


Background on the Budget and Budgeting Process

How Much Money Does the OC Fairgrounds Have?

Over $62 million in cash as of August 2019.  Annual revenues are about $50 million making the cash reserves about 125% of annual revenue.  The OC Fairgrounds can spend as much as they want to on capital improvements and other projects.

Board policy sets the reserve level at 25% of annual operating expenditure which is about $10.75 million in reserves. The OC Fairgrounds is sitting on over over 5.75 times the required reserve level. In comparison, Costa Mesa which is a city of 110,000 residents which operates a city government with police and fire departments has about $55 million in reserves.


Ideas for Capital Improvement Projects and Other Needed Expenditures

  1. Traffic and parking study to reduce the impacts of 5 weeks of near constant gridlock during the OC Fair which stops the 55 Fwy to the Paularino exit and causes OCTA buses to detour through residential neighborhoods. A parking study is needed to find places for the 1.4 million OC Fair attendees to park. It's time to work to reduce the encroachment of OC OC Fairgrounds traffic and parking problems on the homeowners. 

  2. A sound wall for the Action Sports Arena to reduce noise from monster truck shows, motorcycle races, and other events from encroaching on the homeowners around the OC Fairgrounds. This projected has been promised "next year" for several years and needs to be built now.

  3. Removing the weeds on the Pacific Amphitheatre berm and putting in native plants which can thrive in the salty soil with little water or maintenance. Sprinklers on the berm have not worked correctly since the project was finished several years ago  and the staff member in charge of the project did not follow up on the problem during the time the contractor was liable to make the project work. It's time to pull the weeds and put in a native garden.

  4. Make needed repairs and upgrades to the Equestrian Center including installing wifi access.

  5. Agreements for use of off-site parking and storage lots for use during the OC Fair. Agreements for shuttle service to and from the off-site parking lots are needed.

  6. A covered riding arena in the Equestrian Center. 

  7. Development of green-space around the property to buffer the sonic and visual encroachment of the OC Fairgrounds on the neighbors.


What Are Your Ideas on the 2020 OC Fairgrounds Budget?

Please email the Board with your ideas on how state money should be spent at the OC Fairgrounds and requests for handling the budgeting process. And please join us at the meeting!


Contact the OC Fair Board

Board Chair Sandra Cervantes

Vice Chair Andreas Meyer

Director Ashleigh Aitken

Director Barbara Bagneris

Director Doug LaBelle

Director Newton Pham

Director Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia

Director Robert Ruiz


The OC Fairgrounds is also known as the Orange County Fair and Event Center, OCFEC, 32nd District Agricultural Association, and 32nd DAA.

OC Fair Buses and Shuttles Must Stop Cutting Through Residential Neighborhoods

20190727_203805 (2)

OCTA buses and parking shuttles cutting through residential neighborhoods is not acceptable and must end.

On Saturday, July 27, 2019, OCTA OC Fair Express and parking shuttles were cutting thru Mesa del Mar. Two OCTA OC Fair Express and a parking shuttle were photographed on Junipero Dr passing a “No Parking” sign near TeWinkle Park. Traffic was backed up on Newport Blvd going into the OC Fairgrounds causing the 55 Fwy to back up to the Paularino Ave overpass. Buses and shuttles were diverting through residential neighborhoods to avoid the stopped traffic.

There are 47 weeks between the end of the 2019 OC Fair and the beginning of the 2020 OC Fair which can be used to make changes to reduce the traffic problems which crush neighborhoods during the fair.  Possible ways to reduce traffic impacts for the 2020 OC Fair include:

  • Increasing offsite parking with shuttle bus service. Shuttle bus lots can be in neighboring cities.
  • Routing OC Fair patrons to offsite parking lots with shuttle when parking lots on the Fairgrounds are filling up.
  • Ensuring the efficient use of adequate parking during periods of peak attendance.

There are a number of other possible changes which are not listed. What would you do to end buses and shuttles going to the OC Fair cutting through the residential neighborhoods?

Tell the OC Fairgrounds Executive Management and Fair Board to Stop the Buses Cutting Through Your Neighborhoods
OC Fairgrounds executive management and Fair Board claim they do not hear about problems caused by the OC Fair. You can invite Fair Board members to your neighborhood to show the problems experienced during the OC Fair. Share your problems and suggestions for fixing the problems:

Contact Fairgrounds Executive Management 
CEO Kathy Kramer

VP of Operations Ken Karns


Contact the Fair Board

Chair Robert Ruiz

Vice Chair Sandra Cervantes

Ashleigh Aitken

Barbara Bagneris

Doug La Belle

Andreas Meyer

Newton Pham

Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia

Contact OCTA Customer Relations to Lodge a Complaint About OCTA Buses Cutting Through Your Neighborhood
Call 714-636-7433 and choose from the menu (available weekdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm) or use the online complaint form.

Contact Your OCTA Board Member 
Costa Mesa is represented by OC Supervisor Michelle Steel.

Phone 714-834-3220

District Representative is Tim Whitacre

The OC Fairgrounds is also known as the Orange County Fair and Event Center (OCFEC) and the 32nd District Agricultural Association (32nd DAA.)

OC Fair Board Does Not See or Acknowledge Problems with Contract to Write New Board Policy Manual

Check It Out (1)
A special Fair Board meeting was held on July 27, 2019. The only item on the agenda was a vote to approve the selection of contractor MossAdams to consult on updating and revising the Board Policy manual.

Prior to the meeting, a letter had been sent to the Board members recommending that they not approve the contract because of MossAdams stated preference for a particular policy approach known as the Carver Model, which is used in the Board's current policies and has been severely problematic, and is, in many cases, the root cause of the Board dysfunction and the out-of-control management at the Fairgrounds.

Read the MossAdams proposal Download MossAdams Proposal

Read the letter sent to the Board Download 2019-07-25_Ltr_to_Board

Unfortunately, it appears that the attempt to hire a contractor to assist is leading to more problems due to a failure of the Board to recognize important differences between the process that was described to them by Director Andreas Meyer and that for which they will be contracting.


Director Meyer’s Description of Policy Development Process

During the meeting, Director Meyer, who chairs the ad-hoc committee on Board Governance Policies, defended the recommendation of MossAdams by stating that, despite their stated preference for it, MossAdams will not be using the Carver Model or even directly writing the policies. Instead, the policies will be developed by the Board and the public in sections, through a series of public workshops and based on best practices and examples from other organizations and cities. Policies from each segment will be developed prior to starting on the next segment.

Unfortunately, this is not what the contract being recommended by Director Meyer actually includes.


Actual MossAdams Proposal

MossAdams, in their bid in response to the Fair Board's Request for Proposal proposed one round of drafting of new policies by MossAdams with input from the staff, Board, and stakeholders. The draft would be presented and revised to make the final version of the Board policies. MossAdams does not mention workshops with the owners of the property (i.e., the public), a Board centric process, or the development of the policies in a segmented, iterative fashion. MossAdams proposes a process that will only cost $45,000 (the equivalent of 150 work-hours) over 16 months, or just 9 hours of work per month. It is inconceivable that the intensive iterative process that Director Meyer has described can be performed for that amount of effort.

Per state contracting laws, the contract issued by the Fairground must reflect the bid proposal from MossAdams.


Failure to Recognize Discrepancy

During the meeting, it was not clear that the Board recognized the gap between the MossAdams proposal and Director Meyer's description of what would be done. Consequently, it was not clear whether Board Members were voting to approve a contract to cover what Director Meyer was describing or the contract proposed by MossAdams. When the public tried to have the Board address the gap, Chair Robert Ruiz shut down the public and discussion of the gap and approved the contract.


Letter Was Sent to Board Addressing the Gap Between Reality and Expectations

Following the meeting, a letter was sent to the Board addressing the gap between the MossAdams Proposal and Director Meyer's description of the process. If the Board responds to the letter, we will share the response with you.

Read the letter sent to the Board Download 2019-07-27_Ltr_to_Board


Contact the Fair Board

Chair Robert Ruiz

Vice Chair Sandra Cervantes

Ashleigh Aitken

Barbara Bagneris

Doug La Belle

Andreas Meyer

Newton Pham

Natalie Rubalcava-Garcia
The OC Fairgrounds is also known as the Orange County Fair and Event Center (OCFEC) and the 32nd District Agricultural Association (32nd DAA.)