SCGA Public Affairs


Thursday, May 11, 2023

We had the joy of participating in a meeting of the Duarte City Council a couple of weeks ago in which a very preliminary proposal to repurpose a daily fee 9-hole executive golf course cum driving range as an RV Park / storage facility was all but killed by a City Council that made clear that the rezoning necessary to repurpose the property would not be in the offing. Duarte is a 22,000-person bedroom community in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley, roughly 10 miles due east of Pasadena. The small golf facility in question (Rancho Duarte) sits atop a long-closed landfill, making it incompatible with much higher and better economic repurposing like housing or retail; however, for something like an RV park or storage facility very much so.

While no specific application had been filed or was even before Council that evening, the absentee owners of the golf facility were directed by Council to engage the local community before seeking the zone change that would allow them to sell the golf course to a developer for that RV park / storage facility. As a golf course it is worth little on the open market. As an RV park it has substantial resale value in this community. Stop and consider that for a moment – AS A GOLF COURSE IT HAS LITTLE ECONOMIC VALUE; AS AN RV PARK / STORAGE FACILITY IT IS WORTH MILLIONS TO ITS CURRENT GOLF COURSE OWNER – but only if it can be rezoned low grade commercial as opposed to open space/recreation. For that reason, one member of the City Council approached us (roughly 100 golfers, most of them juniors) after the meeting to remind us to remain vigilant. People tend not to give up when the subject is money.

What “saved” the golf course that night? All the things that cannot be counted financially that a golf facility like this brings to the life of the community in which it is located. In this case:

  • The environmental, heat sink, and water table advantages of green space over hardscape.
  • The quiet enjoyment provided to the neighborhood by having a green space in their midst as opposed to a parking lot cum storage structures.
  • A local junior program operated by an accomplished PGA golf professional who has taught Lizette Salas and Angel Yin among others and provides $2 per session junior golf programming on site in addition to a local competitive junior tour that offers playing opportunities in the region at a fraction of the cost of the others in the region – a program and tour that looks like the Asian/Latino population that makes up the City of Duarte.
  • A community beyond local golfers and homeowners that showed up to indicate the value a golf course adds to a region beyond a local community, whether they play the game or not.

What didn’t “save” the golf course? Any hint of the economic benefit of the golf course. Indeed, just to make sure that it was clear to everyone in the room, we included in our remarks that if it’s money that is the deciding metric (tax receipts too), the RV Park has the golf course beaten by a wide margin. But if it’s all the things that make living in Duarte a quality community experience, an RV park is no substitute for the multi-faceted value proposition represented by this little golf course. Getting that on the record at the dawn of what may be a continuing challenge if the Council Member who came up to us after the meeting is correct, was a strategic move to get out in front of what may be a more lucrative permitted use some other potential buyer may have in mind for these absentee owners who clearly want to get out from under ownership of the Rancho Duarte Golf Course. It also stimulated a little discussion of the city considering taking the property off their hands and turning it into a municipal asset.

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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Affordable housing a big winner; local control a big loser. What might it mean for golf in California.

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“CalMatters” is a nonprofit, non-partisan state news service that was created a few years ago to do the kind of in-depth journalism once routinely provided by newspapers and periodicals and now provided scantily if at all only by those media organs funded by charitable contributions or substantial enough to sustain deficits.

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A local example but an instructive one in a long string of examples of how a golf association can amass the facts of the matter as opposed to a version of them provided by those intent on repurposing golf course land for their preferred use, make those facts known to the decision-makers, and then rally its members and member clubs behind those “facts” to get a verdict in the public arena favorable to golf’s cause.

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Our last “Update” detailed the one piece of water legislation (AB 1572 – Proscription upon the use of potable water to irrigate nonfunctional turf) that we considered the most positively impactful to the statewide golf community to get signed into law in the 2023 legislative session – “positively impactful” because golf is specifically referenced as “recreational” and/or “functional” turf exempt from the proscription, language sure to be copied and pasted into all sorts of future bills and regulations, not just at the state level, but at the local and regional levels as well.

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Six years and one month ago in October 2017 the Director penned an article in SCGA’s hard copy magazine FORE entitled, The Era of Recycled Water May be Drawing to a Close.” The kind of recycled water used for outdoor irrigation, that is – nonpotable reuse.

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“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Often attributed to Albert Einstein, who many say wrote it on a blackboard in his Princeton office, its origin is much older than that. However, in this exact form, it appeared in a seminal sociology textbook in 1963 and has been quoted repeatedly since to highlight the fact that certain important matters are simply not amenable to quantification.

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The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is set this Wednesday to open its first public hearing on the Proposed Rule it published August 18 to effectuate what the Governor and others have termed “Making Conservation a California Way of Life.”

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