MOORLACH UPDATE — Memorial Lanes — August 23, 2013

The Orange County Fair & Event Center Board of Directors voted to approve moving the Memorial Gardens Building at yesterdays meeting. Thank you! The Daily Pilot and the OC Registers The Current cover this great news in the first two pieces below, respectively.

The OC Registers Fountain Valley View provides my perspectives on the upcoming San Diego Freeway widening in the third piece below. It is important to note that the provision of toll lanes will not provide any construction funding for the one, or hopefully two, lane(s) that are proposed.

Fair Board OKs moving Memorial Gardens Building

About $112,000 is set aside to relocate the structure, first to a temporary site until a permanent home can be found.

By Bradley Zint

The Orange County Fair Board on Thursday approved spending an estimated $112,000 to relocate the once-threatened Memorial Gardens Building.

Work is scheduled to begin Monday toward moving the World War II-era structure to Lot G on the eastern side of the 150-acre fairgrounds, near the 55 Freeway, said Gary Hardesty, the fairgrounds’ chief technology and production officer.

The former barracks, once part of a large Army base that comprised about 1,300 acres of modern-day Costa Mesa, had been slated for demolition this month to make way for a new Pacific Amphitheatre entrance plaza.

Though fairgrounds officials said they intended to salvage some of the building’s historical aspects, preservationists from the Costa Mesa Historical Society and others protested the move out of concern for veterans and local history.

Lot G will be the 4,800-square-foot, two-story building’s temporary location before a permanent spot is found, Hardesty said. Fairgrounds officials hope to have the job done by Sept. 23. They also anticipate being able to move the building in one piece.

Historical society President Bob Palazzola, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said he was told last year that the building couldn’t withstand relocation.

"All of a sudden, with different people looking at it, including [Orange County Supervisor] John Moorlach … he thought, ‘This could be moved,’" he said. "Then everybody started jumping to the other side."

Still, Palazzola said, it’s a good thing that the Memorial Gardens Building has been saved, though Thursday’s move is "barely the first step" toward the building’s final destiny.

"There’s a long journey ahead," he said. "I’ll be happy to see it moved out of harm’s way."

Historians have said that during the building’s nearly 70-year history, it served as a barracks and an infirmary. In the years after the war, it underwent various structural improvements.

For decades, the Fair Board conducted its meetings there. During this summer’s fair, the building hosted Dr. Entomo’s Palace of Exotic Wonders.

The Orange County Wine Society, which regularly uses the building, will be relocated to another facility, fairgrounds officials have said.

The Fair Board voted in July to have staff look into moving the building. Since 1970, the site around the Memorial Gardens Building has been a California Point of Historical Interest, though the designation would not have been powerful enough to prevent the building’s demolition.

Fair board approves relocation of World War II-era building

Vote saves former Army infirmary at Orange County fairgrounds.


Members of the Orange County Fair Board on Thursday unanimously approved a contract to relocate a World War II-era building to another part of the fairgrounds rather than demolish it.

The building is left over from the days when the fairgrounds were the Santa Ana Army Air Base. Though it is known as a barracks building, study of the two-story structure has shown it was used as an infirmary, said Gary Hardesty of the OC Fair & Event Center.

Initially, it was slated for demolition as a consequence of the ongoing remodeling of the Pacific Amphitheatre, which it sits behind.

But after some community members called for its preservation and County Supervisor John Moorlach questioned if the buildings historic value had been overlooked, the board voted to move the building instead of tearing it down.

Montclair company Cen-Cal Heavy Moving will move the building from its current spot abutting the Pacific Amphitheatre on the west side of the fairgrounds to the east side of the fairgrounds.

The cost for moving the building, excavating a staircase and chimney while preserving as many bricks as possible, and other excavation work on the current site will cost about $111,700.

The building is planned to be moved on Sept. 1, once the contract is signed for the work.

Fountain Valley View

County Supervisor wants more lanes, not tolls



County Supervisor John Moorlach opposes the Orange County Transportation Authority’s plan to expand I-405 by just one lane. He thinks it should be two lanes.

He also balks at the argument that the California Transportation Authority may decide unilaterally to convert the carpool lane into a toll lane, as the carpool lanes do not meet minimum federal speed standards. Toll lanes would defer construction costs and reduce traffic on those lanes, but Moorlach says he opposes the tolls because Orange County residents already have paid for the new lanes through the Measure M sales tax.

Q. Why do you want to expand I-405 with two lanes instead of one?

A. All it would cost to build that second lane is $100 million one lane for $1.3 billion or you get two lanes for $1.4 billion. My argument is, find the money and get it all done at once so that you don’t bother the motorists for decades with construction.

Q. Why do you oppose the toll lane alternative?

A. The idea of putting toll lanes in is offensive. The road was technically supposed to be taken care of through Measure M. The affected cities also feel that it would be difficult for toll payers to get out of the toll lanes to get to their cities. It was a scheme by somebody in a back room a cash cow for the OCTA.

Q. If the more-expensive two-lane option is adopted, will that put a strain on Measure M funds?

A. Perhaps. But we’ve already built in the savings. In Fountain Valley, they wanted to do braided off-ramps that were going to impact the Skating Center, but we took that off the list and that saved us $75 million or some large amount. We’re going to have to find that $100 million someday anyway. The money’s there, and I don’t think it’s an enormous imposition on the cash flow of OCTA.

Q. So OCTA stands to benefit the most from the toll lanes?

A. It would be a revenue source so they won’t have to go out again and do a Measure M-3. Asking voters to pass a tax measure with a two-thirds vote is not an easy deal. So if you can put in this (perpetual) parking meter machine that spins off money and pays off its debt, that’s going to make it easier for OCTA to have a permanent funding source.

Q. How concerned should we be about the state going ahead with a toll lane option?

A. The argument is that the state might make it a carpool lane, and so we better do it before they do so that we get the toll and the state doesn’t. Residents shouldn’t be real concerned, but it is a possibility. The freeways are actually owned and maintained by Caltrans. We’ve just partnered with them using our tax money to make improvements. But it’s as if those improvements can now be commandeered unilaterally by the state and recategorized, and that’s frustrating.

405 expansion by the numbers

Cost to add 1 lane to 16 miles of 405: $1.3 billion

Cost to add 2 lanes: $1.4 billion

Estimated costs of Long Beach street improvements needed to accommodate increased traffic: $3.2 million

Amount O.C. has agreed to contribute: $350,000

Year construction is currently expected to begin: 2015

Year first cars will hit the pavement: 2020

Source: Orange County Transit Authority


August 23


The El Toro Marine Base was a major debate and it even permeated the LA Times Letter to the Editor section under the topic El Toro Airport and Fairness.

The Times on Aug. 2 had a revealing article describing the business relationship between former county Treasurer Robert Citron and Merrill Lynch’s super salesman, Michael Stamenson.

It stated that during the election campaign in 1994, Citron’s office refused to release documents in a timely manner to then-candidate John Moorlach, our current treasurer. Furthermore, Citron sent him information that Moorlach wouldn’t be able to use.

Does this not sound all too familiar? Did not the El Toro Planning Reuse Authority (ETPRA) recently have to take legal action in order to force the county to release information? It is my understanding that county staff is still not forthcoming in providing the required documents to ETPRA. Why is the county purposely obstructing the planning process? Because an open and honest process will make it difficult to hide negative information affecting their airport study. The integrity of the process is therefore highly suspect. By contrast, the study ETPRA conducted on the Millennium Plan was an open process with full public participation and total access to all documentation.


Capistrano Valley


The OC Registers OC Watchdog column by Teri Sforza and Jennifer Muir, titled Raffle founders sister wins $600,000 home, had their perspective of the CalOptima-related matter (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Horses — August 21, 2013). Yes, CalOptima has made it to the papers in the past. And, yes, there has always been a fight for control. And it certainly has been receiving media attention of late. But, the signs were there and even the Watchdog missed them. The subheading was Want County Funding? Be Nice.

Asking for public records is antagonistic, a sign of a bad relationship and should be grounds for temporarily withholding funds from a county-sponsored program, Supervisor John Moorlach told his Board of Supes colleagues on Tuesday.

Moorlach wanted to hold off deciding whether to grant some $54,000 to the doctors group, the Orange County Medical Association, because it filed a request under the California Public Records Act for financial information from CalOptima. Moorlach is a board member of CalOptima, a local version of MediCal.

Its bad cooperation, Moorlach said. I feel awkward that were paying an agency thats being antagonistic with our agency.

Responded Supervisor Chris Norby: It seems like it would be even more antagonistic of us to withhold the money.

In the end, the supes granted the funds to the nosy doctors. Score one for open access.

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