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Could all California municipal golf courses be converted to housing? A new bill proposes just that.

Craig Kessler isn’t overly involved a few California Assembly bill that might flip municipal golf courses within the state into inexpensive home tracts if handed by the meeting this 12 months. He’s extra involved with the pondering that motivated the bill.

“It is more likely than not that the bill will not gain traction among the other housing bills, which actually might help fix the problem,” stated Kessler, the director of governmental affairs for the Southern California Golf Association. “But that’s not a recipe for the failure of golfers to stand up and make their opinions known on this.”

Democrat Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, whose 58th meeting district contains parts of southeastern Los Angeles County, has authored AB 672, which might change the standing of many municipal golf courses within the state, opening the land for residential housing.

More particularly, the bill would:

• Remove municipal golf courses from protections of the Public Park Preservation Act.

• Provide an exemption to the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA.

• Make it simpler to rezone public open-space land for housing.

Kessler stated the bill is struggling on the state degree and has been referred to two meeting committees, the Housing and Community Development committee and the Local Government committee. The bill should go out of each committees by April 30 or it’s going to die in committee for the remainder of 2021. The bill has not been scheduled for a vote in both committee.

If the bill doesn’t advance this 12 months, Garcia may request that AB 672 change into a two-year bill, which might deliver it again to the meeting in January, Kessler stated.

While Kessler first heard concerning the proposed bill in February, particulars weren’t made public till April 6. The response from the golf neighborhood has flooded on this week.

“Removing golf and only golf from the 50-year-old protections of CEQA and the Public Park Preservation Act amounts to a determination by legislative fiat that golf is no longer part of the greater family of publicly accessible recreational activities,” stated James Ferrin, president of the California Alliance for Golf, a non-profit commerce group, in a letter to Assemblymember David Chiu, Chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee, and different meeting members. “The State of California should not be favoring or disfavoring specific recreational activities nor picking winners and losers among them.”

The SCGA takes AB 672 so significantly that it issued a letter to all of its members, calling the proposed bill “the most damaging piece of legislation (regarding) golf to be filed in a generation.”

Rancho Park Golf Course

Rancho Park Golf Course

Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles. The municipal course as soon as hosted the Los Angeles Open. (Photo: Todd Kelly/Golfweek)

Opposition from one meeting member

Chad Mayes, an impartial meeting member for the forty second District which incorporates elements of the Coachella Valley, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, expressed his opposition Wednesday to AB 672.

“There are a number of well-thought-out policy solutions to our housing shortage. AB 672 is not one of them. It ignores locals control, threatens important programs and opened the door for future tax increases,” Mayes stated in a press release.

Kessler stated of the greater than 1,100 golf courses in California, roughly 70% are public and 22% are municipal, which means they’re owned by both a metropolis or a county.

An amended model of AB 672 from April 6 states that, “This bill would require a city, county, or city and county to rezone, by the date the 6th regional housing needs assessment cycle applicable to the city, county, or city and county ends, certain sites used as a golf course to also allow for residential and open-space use in accordance with specified requirements. The bill would exempt any ordinance, resolution, general or specific plan amendment, or other action necessary of the city, county, or city and county to rezone a site pursuant to the bill’s provisions from CEQA.”

The bill would require 25% of such new housing developments to be for low-income households. The bill additionally requires that municipal courses be in a park-poor space, that the golf course is owned by a metropolis, county, or metropolis and county, and the golf course is funded by cash from the town, county, and that the golf course be in a high-density space.

Those restrictions would possibly imply the eight municipal golf courses within the Coachella Valley wouldn’t be topic to the new bill. The two courses every in Palm Desert and Indian Wells and the one course in La Quinta are high-end resort courses constructed to entice motels and different retail companies. The two courses in Palm Springs and the one in Indio are aimed extra as facilities to native residents.

Some municipal courses are among the many greatest golf courses within the state. The males’s U.S. Open championship will be performed in June at Torrey Pines Golf Course, a 36-hole municipal facility in San Diego.

PGA: Farmers Insurance Open - Third Round

PGA: Farmers Insurance Open – Third Round

A detailed view of the south course map adjoining to the primary tee throughout the third spherical of the Farmers Insurance Open golf event at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Golf preventing for leisure protections

Kessler’s concern is that the golf courses are being singled out for exemptions for environmental influence stories and from the Public Park Preserve Act, whereas areas like soccer fields, public preserves, tennis courts and huge public parks would nonetheless be protected.

“It strips golf courses and only golf courses out of the protection that for 50 years have existed for them,” Kessler stated.

The bill doesn’t handle private-owned public golf courses or non-public nation golf equipment, however Kessler stated the pondering behind the bill may finally deal with such courses, threatening golf within the state.

“Because golf courses and only golf courses are separated out, it is in essence putting a target on the back of golf,” Kessler stated.

Kessler admits a part of the pondering earlier than the bill and different initiatives regarding municipal golf courses is that many municipal golf courses don’t make cash for his or her municipalities and that the land for golf courses is usually extra useful than the golf course itself.

The City of Palm Springs lately agreed to pay for half of an evaluation of the worth of its two public golf courses because the Oswit Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land need to doubtlessly purchase the courses and switch them right into a nature protect.

But in different circumstances – Kessler pointed to Los Angeles County – courses make cash and assist to pay for different municipally run leisure actions and parks. He added that whereas golf struggled for a lot of the final 10 to 12 years with declining participation, the game has had a surge of curiosity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Golf remained open for a lot of the pandemic even with restrictions and social distancing, whereas different actions had been shut down by the state and county.

“Play is up 30% nationally in the last year,” Kessler stated, quoting National Golf Foundation statistics. “Golf hasn’t done this well in years.”

A message left with Garcia’s workplace was not returned.

The CAG additionally expressed issues that the bill may be the start of the state taking on public open areas.

“Any legislative exemption for one form of park/recreational or open space use from the protections of the Public Park Preservation Act and/or CEQA would create the slipperiest of slopes toward similar legislative determinations regarding other forms of parks and/or recreational uses – e.g., soccer fields, baseball diamonds, university campuses, land conservancies/preserves, trails, equestrian centers, and tracks,” Ferrin stated in his CAG opposition letter.


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