Faced with the worst budget crisis in California history, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed selling high profile state properties, including our very own Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack. The Governor’s original proposal would have sold the entire 400 acre property, valued at between $400 to $700 million.
Fortunately, since the Governor’s proposal was unveiled in May of this year, there were no buyers lined up to purchase the famous place where the turf meets the surf. Other State properties including San Quentin State Prison were also proposed for sale and apparently did receive some interest from potential buyers. To each his own…
In June, follow-up staff studies in Sacramento found that the racetrack portion of the Del Mar property was the actual profit generator of the property. With this in mind, the Governor’s real estate managers suggested splitting the property and selling the track separately – a move they hoped would make this already prime coastal property even more attractive.
Meanwhile, local state legislators and coastal city government expressed their concerns over selling this historic property where so many county activities take place. There was also virtually no San Diego support for the sale. Located in an environmentally sensitive area, one that we locals are proud and protective of, the site is too fragile to allow distant politicians control over. The loss of the Del Mar racetrack and/or fairgrounds would have had devastating effects for the Del Mar and coastal economy as well as the lifestyles of all San Diego County residents.
Luckily, when the State Budget was revealed in July, the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack were no longer part of the state sell-off. Apparently, San Quentin also avoided the auction block. Other state properties such as the Orange County Fairgrounds and several state buildings are slated to be sold…
Although no one knows what the future will bring, it is good to know that the Governor and the State Legislature acted with the public interest in mind this time! However, even though the adopted budget did not include these extreme actions this time, the Governor continues to stand by his idea to sell the valuable state properties. The folks up in Sacramento, including the Governor, need to remember that decisions regarding the prize possessions of the citizens of this state should not be made without the input of those citizens.
Let’s make sure our voices are heard loud and clear should this ill-conceived plan rear its ugly head again. Meanwhile, enjoy those hot cinnamon rolls and pick a winner at the track! See you next summer at the San Diego County Fair and the next racing season at our Del Mar Race Track!