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The Real Deal Los Angeles

County Fair Association owes LA County more than $6M in rent: audit

Association operates at Fairplex in Pomona

November 14, 2016 12:00PM

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Former L.A. County Fair Association executive James Henwood, Jr., and Fairplex at

Former L.A. County Fair Association executive James Henwood, Jr., and Fairplex at1101 West McKinley Avenue (Credit: Venues Today, Fairplex Insider)

The carnival may be over.

The Los Angeles County Fair Association could owe more than $6 million in rent for the county-owned land in Pomona on which it operates a hotel, convention center and other enterprises, according to multiple local audits.

Even as the private nonprofit organization racked up back rent since 2005, its executives were paid exorbitant compensation, with its former chief executive, James Henwood Jr., receiving more than $1 million in salary, bonuses and benefits in 2014, the L.A. Times found.

The association has denied the claims. It counters that state auditors misconstrued its lease agreement with the county.

“The state auditor’s attempt to reinterpret the lease at this point is not only wrongheaded, but grossly unfair,” the association’s spokesperson, Renee Hernandez, told the Times in an email.

The association’s attorney, George Kieffer, alleges that it deeded most of the 500-acre Fairplex property, at 1101 West McKinley Avenue, to the county in the 1940s in the name of public interest.

Henwood, who resigned after the audits began last March, argued that the pay levels reflected roles that went way beyond the duties for the fair. [LAT]Cathaleen Chen

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