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Placer County Fairgrounds-When Jurisdictions Squabble-the Public Loses

The Placer County Fairgrounds has been located in Roseville, California for close to half a century, but you would think it just arrived by the way the City of Roseville acted recently when it filed a complaint in Superior Court related to a Country Western concert to be held at the County’s fairgrounds property located off Washington Boulevard.  The history of the fairgrounds and the controversy surrounding it spans several decades, numerous city and county officials, news articles, public hearings and grand jury reports. 

When I took office in 2011, as District 1 supervisor, one of the first things I did was to meet with area residents who had concerns about increases in noise related to speedway modifications that occurred in 2006.  To my surprise, I was told no one from the County, including my District 1 predecessor, had ever met with concerned residents, answered their letters or let alone given anyone a phone call.  Over the last two and a half years I have had countless meetings and phone calls, with concerned neighbors, city staff, county staff and city and county elected officials, concerning the fairgrounds and the possibility of its relocation.  I even held the first ever public forum in 2011, to discuss fairground issues, noise and possible relocation.  Fairgrounds noise modifications resulting from better communication between all parties has resulted in noise complaints having dropped from a high of 191 in 2011 to only 4 this year.

What has resulted from this intense focus on the fairgrounds is a plan that has many facets, but is by no means a quick fix.  The speedway is currently undergoing environmental review and the County has recently engaged a consulting firm to evaluate the fair and report on its pros and cons and to make recommendations for improvements and amenities concerning how an improved fairgrounds would benefit the region.  The consultant report will also cover potential relocation options.  Finally, the City of Lincoln is also interested in locating the fair near its jurisdiction and discussions with area landowners, the City of Lincoln and County are ongoing. 

Recently, the Fair Association, the County’s fair property manager, had an opportunity to book a large country western act at the fairgrounds.  The concert was expected to bring much needed revenue to both County and City coffers-but most importantly, to City and County businesses.  The Fair Association’s booking of the concert, without prior County input and without solid City support, was not the Association’s best day-but its intentions were clear-generate revenue to support the fair.  Interestingly, the Fair Association has been governed by numerous Roseville City officials over the last several decades-why this concert raises eyebrows is questionable to say the least.  All parties, City, County, Fair Association and concert promoter, initially met several times to discuss concerns with the concert and safety related issues.  However, the City, for reasons only they know, left the discussions, filing suit against everyone.  The concert, and economic benefits, thereafter relocated to a Sacramento venue.

Although the City’s reaction to the event made you think a Nevada desert “burning man” type event was occurring at the fairgrounds, the proposed concert was not overly unusual for the fairgrounds site itself and available parking.  Moreover, Placer County was never going to allow this concert to move forward without the best safety plan in place – for anyone to think otherwise is just plain disingenuous.  In the end-It is unfortunate that City and County taxpayers are on the hook for attorney’s fees and court costs for a situation that could have been easily avoided - with better communication.

The bigger concern for me, as a public official, is with jurisdictions posturing on relatively small issues like the fairgrounds concert.  Although there is a natural tension between jurisdictions, if jurisdictions act unreasonably we will certainly fail at most everything we do and our residents lose big time.  If we don’t let these issues overcome us and we cooperate with each other towards solution based outcomes, the future will be a much more brighter place for all residents.  Our constituents and stakeholders deserve nothing less than our best efforts - 100% of the time.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve.  I invite your questions and feedback on any issue.  I can be reached at (916) 787-8950 and jduran@placer.co.gov.

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