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Del Mar Fairgrounds Renovations to Move Forward After Settlement

by Michael Higham, published
San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, photo credit: Michael Higham

San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

Last week, the 22nd District Agriculture Association (22nd DAA), owners and operators of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, reached a settlement with several city authorities over its master plan for renovation. The city of Del Mar, Solana Beach, and the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority filed a lawsuit against 22nd DAA, saying aspects of the plan ignored traffic and environmental issues.

The original master plan for renovation included a 192-foot electronic billboard to display messages over the Interstate 5 freeway which is now eliminated. The main concern was a potential increase in traffic jams that already occur along the I-5 during rush hours.

There were plans to install lights atop several exhibit halls for the main field at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. That aspect of the plan was scrapped in the settlement. The 22nd DAA will also have to wait five years before implementing any plans for a hotel structure within the fairgrounds.

Renovations kept in the plan include the upgrade of aging exhibit halls. President of the 22nd DAA Board Adam Day stated:

"The number one, two and three priority projects are the replacement of the old, outdated exhibit halls. Those halls need updating for building codes, as well as life and safety codes. They need to be more efficient as far as allowing event planners to host events there."

The Del Mar Fairgrounds is well-known as the site of summertime's local celebration, the San Diego County Fair. Anyone who has attended the County Fair in recent past is familiar with traffic and parking issues to access the event. In the settlement, the master plan was revised to include extra traffic control measures at the Via De La Valle exits on the I-5 during the County Fair and horse race events.

Plans for a multi-floor parking structure on the eastern dirt lot had to be scrapped. The settlement does allow the 22nd DAA to relocate the plan.

Solana Beach Councilmember Lesa Heebner says the city is "very pleased all parties have reached agreement." Donald Moiser of the Del Mar City Council shared the same sentiments by stating his satisfaction with the resolution.

Owners of the Del Mar Fairgrounds will not implement all of its original master plan. However, bare infrastructure will be renovated. The original plan was brought into litigation back in the Spring of last year when the 22nd DAA released the Environmental Impact Report.

The Del Mar Fairgrounds serves as San Diego's thoroughbred race track and site of numerous trade shows. The Fairgrounds also hosts several equestrian shows, concerts, and seasonal events.

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