SCGA Public Affairs


Friday, December 17, 2021

SCGA’s “Save Public Golf” campaign – “save” it from the Public Golf Endangerment Act (AB 672) – rolled out phase 1 last week with an E-blast to its membership, an “SCGA News” spot, a “Club Digest” offering, and a social media campaign. All points leading to the “Save Public Golf” landing page on the Association website homepage -- Public Golf Endangerment Act -- a landing page that allows persons to type in their name and be immediately directed to their Assembly and Senate members along with a few sample letters that can be easily copied and pasted into those members’ E-mail portals. So far, so good in terms of member engagement and use thereof.

We are happy to report that most of the state’s other major golf organizations have aligned with SCGA’s outreach campaign (e.g., CGCOA, GCSAA, NCPGA, SCPGA, and NCGA). We are especially happy to share that the Southland’s major retail chains (e.g., Roger Dunn Golf Shops, The Golf Mart, PGA Tour Superstore, and GOLFTEC) are planning to use SCGA produced collateral in their stores. Something about the direct assault on their businesses represented by a bill whose formal title is “Conversion of Publicly Owned Golf Courses to Affordable Housing” we suppose. With any luck (and a little persuasion from the greater golf community), others whose bottom lines are dependent upon more as opposed to fewer golfers will follow suit.

It bears repeating that this is not about housing, affordable or otherwise. It’s about a bill that singles out golf among all other park/recreation/open space/land preserve activities for targeting – a legislative finding that drums golf out of the public recreational space it has filled for more than 100 years, putting the game’s proverbial blood in the water in ways sure to presage more problematic legislation. It also bears repeating that this is not just about the 22% of the California game that is municipally owned. The thinking underlying the bill – that golf doesn’t merit the land it encumbers – represents a straight line to the other 78% of the game, particularly the private club sector.

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As expected, and previously reported in our coverage of AB 1346, albeit much quicker than expected, the California Air Resources Control Board (CARB) has passed a rule that bans the manufacturing and sale of new gasoline-powered equipment under 25 horsepower in California after December 31, 2023. Portable generators, some pressure washers, and select pieces of emergency equipment have been given a pass through the end of 2027.

The California Alliance for Golf (CAG) met with AB 1346 author Marc Berman's Office (D-Menlo Park) to express concern that the current zero-emission equipment available to commercial users doesn’t meet the “fit for intended use” standard. That’s legalese for the stuff that’s on the market today to the degree to which it actually is on the market doesn’t work. It poses infrastructure and cost/performance problems, e.g., limited battery life, inadequate charging capacity, durability/shelf-life problems, lack of maintenance support, and incapacity to complete large golf course maintenance and landscape tasks.

That concern was incorporated into AB 1346 as it was passed by both Houses of the Legislature and signed by Governor Newsom along with a limited rebate program to ease transition.

Based on that language in the bill, CAG requested that CARB work with manufacturers, green associations, and retailers to maintain the 2024 end of sale date for zero emission residential Small Off-Road Engines (SORE) but consider extending the time period to transition to zero emission “commercial/professional grade” equipment beyond 2024 to the degree to which fears about the commercial unavailability of equipment fit for intended use were borne out. CARB didn’t quite do that, but it did incorporate rolling one-year reviews of the efficacy of the battery powered equivalents to determine whether the 2024 date should be extended for some of the battery powered equivalents deemed not yet commercially available in forms fit for intended use. Again, that’s legalese for the stuff still doesn’t work. It’s clear that CARB is banking on the manufacturers’ ability to make stuff that works once it becomes clear that there is a date certain on which gas-powered equipment (25 horsepower or less) can no longer be sold in the nation’s largest state. Whether they can or cannot is a determination beyond the expertise of a golf organization; that’s why we lobbied for the rolling one-year reconsiderations.

While the manufacturing and sale of this equipment is banned starting Jan. 1, 2024, please remember the following key points about that ban:

  • The regulation is not a ban on use. A golf course does not have to give up or stop using the 25 and under horsepower gasoline equipment it currently owns or purchases before Jan. 1, 2024. They can continue to use it even after the new rule takes effect. This also applies to used equipment purchased in the future.
  • The rule does not apply to any equipment over 25 horsepower or any diesel-powered equipment.
  • The phaseout won’t be instantaneous. Manufacturers will be permitted to meet emission standards using credits earned under the previous rule, which could extend the manufacture/sales of products for a certain amount of time.
  • A $30 million rebate program will be available to assist in the cost of transition to zero-emission equipment. CARB and California legislators have indicated that more dollars for the rebate program are under serious discussion.

More information on the ruling is available on the CARB website here.

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Recent rains and snows have been greatly welcomed. Less welcomed is the obligatory media reminder that no single precipitation event, no matter how great, ends a drought, let alone a megadrought. We know that. The golf community knows that and knows it well!

That’s why we pay much closer attention to things like this week’s agreement among California, Nevada, and Arizona to significantly reduce their respective takes from the Colorado River. A move made necessary in order to maintain the minimal levels Lake Mead requires to ensure that body’s continued ability to generate electricity.

The Colorado River Basin was over-allocated well before this Century’s megadrought. Add atop that problem a warmer/drier climate producing less snowfall cum runoff, and what you have is what we face in the Southwest at the moment – a reduced take from the Colorado River and a 0% allocation from the State Water Project as we enter a rainy season that meteorologists have identified as a classic dry La Niña scenario.

Bottom line: Strap in tight for what promises to be a difficult 2022 for the California golf community. The good news is all the good will that the good work golf has done over the years with Water Districts, Public Utilities, and cities/counties has generated – work that has convinced them of two (2) overarching realities: 1) Golf has done much over the last quarter century to reduce its water footprint, and 2) golf plans to do much more over the next quarter century to reduce it further by continuing to invest heavily in the practices and technologies that make it possible to do so while providing quality golf experiences. The bad news is that the challenge posed by a climate that is apparently warming and drying faster than predicted just a few short years ago promises to be a big challenge.

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What would the final Update of 2021 be without a COVID reference?

In keeping with what the City of Los Angeles and many other jurisdictions has already done, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors adopted an emergency ordinance on December 7, 2021 requiring all personnel of its contractor, lessee, concessionaire, partner, affiliate (Contractor), who (1) interact in person with County employees, interns, volunteers, and commissioners, (2) work on County owned or controlled property while performing services under a County contract, agreement, lease, or partnership (Contract), and/or (3) come into contact with the public while performing services under a Contract with the County, to comply as follows:

  1. Provide one-time verification to their employer that they are fully vaccinated OR
  2. If the Contractor Personnel (as defined below) is unvaccinated but is granted a valid medical or sincerely held religious belief exemption by their employer, provide a weekly certification to their employer of a negative polymerase chain reaction (“PCR”) or antigen test as evidence that they are following the mandate.

“Contractor Personnel” means all employees of a Contractor, and persons working on its behalf on a Contract with the County, including but not limited to, subcontractors of any tier.

While the Ordinance is effective immediately, Los Angeles County’s 20 golf courses have until January 1, 2022, to comply with the Ordinance requirements. It would appear that “fully vaccinated” means two Moderna/Pfizer vaccinations or one Johnson & Johnson vaccination, not two plus booster.

A harbinger of what else may be coming golf’s way as the winter surge already underway accelerates.

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For those of you interested in how advocates like us actually go about developing the tactics and strategies we employ in seeking best available outcomes in the public arena – otherwise known as how this particular variety of sausage is divined – we share a piece written by the Director for this week’s “Golf Business Weekly,” a publication of the National Golf Course Owner’s Association. Its title: “Respecting One’s Adversaries is more than Polite . . . It’s Smart.” Click here to read it.

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Unless something untoward comes up, this promises to be our last “Governmental Affairs Update” of 2021. When you hear again from us in 2022, It will be a “Public Affairs Update.” More about that later. For now, holiday wishes to you and your families.

Archived Updates

Opposition to Assembly Bill 1910

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CGCOA Golf is Good Ambassador Program

Are you interested in becoming an advocate for golf in California? The CGCOA is seeking amateur golfers who are passionate about protecting the game of golf and promoting public policies that enable golf to flourish in California. Take the next step to becoming an advocate for golf by completing the attached Golf is Good Ambassador Application.

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FORE - Public Affairs

FORE - The magazine of the SCGA. Find archived Public Affairs articles on the website of the SCGA's award winning quarterly publication.

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Four Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion yesterday that seeks to crack down on what the motion describes as “black-market tee time brokers” who book and resell city golf course tee times for profit.

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When introduced by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) February 16, AB 3192 contained a provision that would have banned the use of all nonorganic pesticides and fertilizers on golf resorts in California’s Coastal Zone.

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A cautionary tale from semi-rural Santa Barbara County to remind you that the pressure to repurpose golf courses is not just a phenomenon in California’s densely packed urban cores.

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The National Golf Course Owners Association’s (NGCOA) Harvey Silverman may have characterized the City of Los Angeles’ uncommonly quick reaction to intense media scrutiny (five separate Los Angeles Times stories including a Sunday lead editorial) of the depredations of tee time brokering with his quip in the organization’s “Golf Business Weekly” about the city having reacted “faster than fixing potholes.”

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Every year there seems to be one bill filed in one house of the California Legislature that keeps the California golf community up at night.

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Here's the difference this last week made, and it’s a difference not just in terms of the alacrity with which we can expect the major municipal golf systems to begin implementing mitigations, but also in terms of what the week means in terms of disabusing all notions of golf somehow being underutilized and golfers not as passionate about the object of their affection as others are about theirs.

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With respect to the furor over tee time brokers making it nearly impossible for Los Angeles Basin’s public golfers to secure tee times at almost any time of the day or week, let’s just say that we’ve seen this picture before.

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