22nd DAA to seek lessee for Del Mar Horsepark

Del Mar Horsepark
Del Mar Horsepark
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune

The board of directors for the 22nd District Agricultural Association voted June 8 to start looking for a lessee to bring equestrian activity back to Del Mar Horsepark, which has been closed this year because of wastewater upgrades that needed to be accounted for.

Last December, the 22nd DAA announced that horse shows at Del Mar Horsepark would be canceled in 2021, to the surprise of the local equestrian community. Horses boarded there were given 90 days to leave. Riding lessons and dressage competitions were also canceled.

Del Mar Horsepark, located on 65 acres about three miles east of the Del Mar Fairgrounds at the corner of El Camino Real and Via de la Valle in the San Dieguito River Valley, requires infrastructure updates to satisfy Regional Water Quality Control Board requirements. Board members and staff at the 22nd DAA have estimated that a plan covering approximately $3-4 million of wastewater management measures would allow the venue to reopen.

Board members had been considering three options to reopen Del Mar Horsepark: having the 22nd DAA come up with its own plan and funding, a public-private partnership between the 22nd DAA and a private operator, or leasing Del Mar Horsepark through a bidding process.

“It does shift that responsibility of compliance to the successful bidder, the lessee in this case,” said Carlene Moore, CEO of the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

She added that the disadvantages include the loss of complete control of the property throughout the year.

“Then there’s also, depending on how we structure it, requiring it for the use of evacuations, especially as they relate to the equine community,” Moore said.

Board member Michael Gelfand chairs an ad-hoc committee that has been evaluating options for Del Mar Horsepark. In making a motion to proceed with the lessee option, he listed three components: the lessee pays for the water quality improvements; the lease would allow the board to terminate the lease after no less than five years and offer the possibility of a proportional reimbursement to the lessee of the water quality improvement costs; and maximize revenue for the 22nd DAA.

Moore said that the request for proposal will likely be issued by the end of July.