Home>Articles>California’s Public Golf Courses to be Converted to Affordable Housing Complexes Under AB 672

Wm. Land Golf Municipal Course, Sacramento. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

California’s Public Golf Courses to be Converted to Affordable Housing Complexes Under AB 672

What about the impact to the state’s golf tourism and at-risk youth programs?

By Katy Grimes, December 30, 2021 2:20 am

A bill in the California Legislature authored by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) is proposing to convert California public/municipal golf courses into affordable housing. Assembly Bill 672 provides $50 million in developer subsidies to redevelop California’s municipal golf courses into affordable housing complexes.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Yes, it’s a real thing. Assembly Bill 672 says:

Publicly owned golf courses: conversion: affordable housing.

Existing law establishes the Department of Housing and Community Development and requires it to, among other things, administer various programs intended to fund the acquisition of property to develop or preserve affordable housing.

This bill would, upon appropriation by the Legislature, require the department to administer a program to provide incentives in the form of grants to local governments that make publicly owned golf courses available for housing and publicly accessible open spaces, as specified.

GolfWeek reported 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 easier to rezone public open-space land for housing.

Assemblywoman Garcia’s AB 672 “Fact Sheet” below states, “Golf courses proliferate in and around California’s urban centers. As golf declines, the state can craft a ‘grand bargain’ to encourage redevelopment of golf courses in a way that promotes equity and affordability, and fights climate change.”

Golf is declining? In California?

The “Fact Sheet” also states, “In the 80s and 90s, golf was on the upswing; but as the National Golf Foundation reports, since 2006, golf is declining. Golf courses struggle to stay open. Some locales subsidize municipal courses. It is reasonable to expect their decline will continue.”

This information is cherry-picked from a lengthy list on the National Golf Foundation website replete with statistics and data supporting the growing popularity of golf in the country. The rest of the information said “SINCE 2006, there has been a cumulative contraction of approximately 11% which has been disproportionately concentrated in value-priced courses (less than $40 greens fee).”

Assemblywoman Garcia’s “Fact Sheet” for AB 672 states, “Golf courses are labeled as open space. Who can access golf courses? Only those who know how to or can afford to play golf. Pay-to-play leisure activities do not serve low and moderate-income Californians.”

Yet she’s proposing to further diminish or totally do away with the value-priced golf courses if her bill were to pass – golf courses that do serve low and moderate-income Californians.

The Globe has read reports that golf is up 30% in 2021, and particularly at municipal courses open to the public. According to the National Golf Foundation, 36.9 million people played golf in 2020. And, the Golf Foundation says of the 16,100 golf courses in the country, “Golf remains highly accessible, with 75% of facilities open to the public.”

Land Use in California

California is made up of more than 104 million acres of land throughout the state. Of that, the federal government owns slightly more than 45.8 million acres – approximately 40% of California.

The Assemblywoman’s “Fact Sheet” states, “California is home to 921 public and private golf courses. They vary substantially in size; but often consume about 100 acres of land.”

That’s 92,100 acres of land Assemblywoman Garcia wants to remove from public access.

California also has a surplus of state-owned property, including land and buildings. The misnomer that builders are running out of land is not the case in California, but may be in other states. However, states and the federal government have impressive real estate portfolios, owning vast swaths of land, structures and buildings.

On January 15, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-06-19 ordering the California Department of General Services (DGS) and the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to identify and prioritize excess state-owned property in order to pursue cost-effective housing projects. The idea was to make state and local public lands available for affordable housing development including:

  • An executive order to make excess state land available for affordable housing (Executive Order N-06-19)
  • Connecting affordable housing developers to local surplus land and strengthening enforcement of the Surplus Lands Act (AB 1486, Ting, 2019)
  • Requiring cities and counties to inventory and report surplus and excess local public lands to include in a statewide inventory (AB 1255, Robert Rivas, 2019)

Following that order, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) authored Assembly Bill 1486,  to “Expand surplus property requirements for both the state and local agencies.”

“Surplus land” is land owned by any local agency that is determined to be no longer necessary for the agency’s use, except property being held by the agency for the purpose of exchange or property meeting other exemptions.

The golf courses named in AB 672 are municipal golf courses – open to the public. Why would Assemblywoman Garcia set her sites on 92,100 acres of open space land which includes public golf courses? This seems a rather cruel and deliberate attempt to do away with the only golf courses in the state where members of the public from all walks of life can play golf for relatively low costs.

In Sacramento, there are four municipal golf course facilities on city-owned land, operated by Morton Golf. The Morton Golf Management company has programs for the physically or mentally disabled and the blind, military veterans, stroke survivors, a Special Olympics program, junior golf, 30 different local high school boys and girls golf teams, 13 women’s golf groups, the First Tee golf program, the First Tee Year Round After School Program, Latino Junior Golf Program, an At-Risk Youth golf Program, a Girls Play league, and many more programs aimed at providing the public access to the sport of golf.

Assemblywoman Garcia adopted the lie that golf is on the decline in order to justify taking over and converting public golf courses into housing, when the state has untold amounts of “Surplus Local Land for Affordable Housing,” according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

According to Forbes, golf is big business, “directly driving $84.1 billion in economic activity across the U.S. in 2016, according to a study commissioned by the World Golf Foundation. The findings reflect a 22% increase from $68.8 billion in 2011, the last time the U.S. Golf Economy Report was released. The game also supports almost 1.9 million jobs and $58.7 billion in compensation.”

AB 672 originated as a land use bill in February 2021, but was then heavily amended, hasn’t had a hearing yet or any committee analysis done on it.

There are many problems with this bill. What about the economic impact golf has on California tourism?

In just Sacramento, municipal golf has provided more than $4 million dollars in property tax, employment tax, sales tax and rent to the city and state.

What about the impact to California golf tourism with public golf destinations like Torrey Pines in San Diego, Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay and the NCGA-owned Poppy Hills Golf Course, all on the Monterey Coast? Or the public golf courses in Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Indian Wells? There are public golf courses on the Central Coastal and in the many wine regions.

What about the huge increase in golf since the COVID pandemic? Most golf courses report a significant increase in golf activity since March 2020, and especially the public/municipal golf courses.

There are plenty of ways to free up California land and buildings for affordable housing, starting with local governments setting aside their myriad permitting hoops developers and builders must jump through, as well as excessive fee structures. Government should not be in the real estate business anyway; the idea that the state compiles a list of “surplus land” is a much more appropriate and reasonable starting point for affordable housing locations than targeting public golf courses.

The Globe contacted Assemblywoman Garcia’s office to ask if the bill has a sponsor, or a list of supporters, but we did not receive a reply by close of business.

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48 thoughts on “California’s Public Golf Courses to be Converted to Affordable Housing Complexes Under AB 672

  1. Besides the articles that describe the ongoing MISmanagement of California’s water resources, few other articles have ANGERED me more than this one…
    This proposed legislation is absolute PROOF that Cristina Garcia needs to be removed from office for writing incoherent legislation and also not paying attention to current events and not understanding the current state of the market.
    Since the start of the Democrat’s “plandemic”, golf course usage has EXPLODED….one cannot get a tee time and course utilization has skyrocketed…
    Furthermore, is Garcia an ESL individual? It would appear so, based upon this misuse of English syntax : ” … to convert publicly owned golf courses IN affordable housing and dedicated open space that is accessible by all.”(emphasus mine)
    Didn’t she intend to say TO affordable housing?
    And is she inferring to propose converting these supposedly under-utilized golf courses to homeless ENCAMPMENTS where they can pitch their tents???
    Is she INSANE???

    I hope that by preparing this poorly worded and conceptualized legislative proposal, Ms. Garcia has placed a MASSIVE red target on her back from the #USGA, #NGCOA and other golf industry supporters who will now mobilize AGAINST her efforts to thwart THEIR efforts to #GrowTheGame and get her unelected from office come the next election cycle…
    I hope the golfers in Bell Gardens and other golf outlets like Haggin Oaks in the Sacramento area marshal their forces and get her replaced in office for this absolutely STUPID legislative proposal…

    1. Golf is a great outdoor Sport and a politician appears to be targeting in for some kind of spite. Too bad the pen is mightier than the Club. Save this great game that helps teach ethics to all of us.

    2. I agree with everything you stated. What an idiotic idea! She and others like her are trying to run California into the ground! This must be stopped!

  2. Producers of ‘affordable housing’ are making out like robber barons. It’s ironic that places that have done the most to make housing scarce and expensive are the same places that now decry the lack of ‘affordable housing’ and want government money to remedy the problem they caused. Developers are circling these usually Democratic cities like vultures with their wallets wide open.

    1. As I’m sure you know, so-called “affordable housing” is nothing more than TOKEN luxury housing that is subsidized by the government. Waiting lists have always been miles long for this fake government handout where nothing can be owned and thus the advantages of “buying” it (or even renting it) are not there as they traditionally were. You know, equity and so forth, especially when the stuff has to be handed down AS affordable housing, with all the ridiculous rules attached, to the next chump who thinks he is getting something for nothing. And that is only for the “lucky” few who get picked in the A.H. Lottery.
      Traditional developers, whose permits for traditional housing have been denied or monstrously delayed over these many years because of all the regulatory obstacles in California, have been “forced” to go into the “affordable housing” business. And yes, as a result, they have been making out like robber barons, with the help of the Scott Wieners and Cristina Garcias and the rest of the state legislative and local politician gang, who not only champion old school “affordable housing” but continue to irrationally scream “Housing First” for vagrants with addiction problems, and whose campaign coffers are likely filled-to-bursting with developer contributions.

  3. You gotta be kidding me with this nonsense. Cristina Garcia and Co. are OUT OF THEIR MINDS. And about as subtle as a train wreck. It doesn’t surprise me that Garcia is crude, but this is ridiculous.
    I’m with CD9 on this one that there are “few other articles that have angered me more than this one.”

    1. I would like to add that, as Katy Grimes and CD9 intimated, legislative maniacs such as Cristina Garcia are going to have quite a battle on their hands with this one.

      When, PP (Pre-Pandemic), a local County golf course was threatened with closure (supposed money issues? Can’t remember now in all the subsequent chaos), throngs of golfers showed up to speak strongly against it at my local city’s council meeting, a venue where for years I’ve witnessed only two or three hardened citizen activists ever appear against the usual council cronies, shills, or other special interests. In response, the city council and L.A. county “leadership” went into the fetal position as they usually do when this kind of huge opposition appears, and the golfers prevailed.

      So good luck to Garcia and her ridiculous ambitions to further destroy the State of California. It’s not going to work and it’s not going to happen, at least not with what I have seen of the Golfer Army in this state.

  4. “However, in 2020, when homebuilding grew in other states, construction declined in California, which permitted only 104,500 new residences.”

    Well, what did the legislature think would happen when they mandated that solar panels and fire sprinkler systems on all new residences? That’s right: they didn’t. Most of California’s legislators and elected officials have never worked in private-sector jobs. Most of them have never made budget decisions. Most of them only have experience as “legislative office staffer” or “activist” or “community organizer”. The fifth-largest economy in the world is under the watchful eye of glorified interns.

  5. Welcome to the Pebble Beach public golf links …… uh, homeless encampment. This legislation will NEVER see the light of day. The commissars are just poking you in the eyes comrades. Don’t fall for it.

  6. Comrades
    The State is always right…..
    The police get more work, liquor stores boom, iron door dealers prosper, nightime sirens, your choice of melodies.

    1. Please enlighten us as to who is to blame for clear absurdities such as this if not the CA politicians, governor, legislators, state officeholders, (and mayors, city council, boards of supervisors, school boards, etc.)?
      Maybe we missed something.

    2. I don’t blame leftist politicians. I blame the spineless critical thought deprived virtue signaling selfish dolts who vote for them. Sounds like you. FJBV

  7. Gee, Land Park Golf Course?? Wasn’t an old woman and her dog killed near there?
    Gee, was the killer a homeless vagrant?
    Raymond is right this is a poke in the eye to what is viewed as a white man’s sacred cow.
    Thank you Ca.Globe for making us aware of such foolishness, but it will never see the light of day.

  8. Follow the money. I’d like to know if any of these developers who will profit from this ridiculous bill have contributed to her campaign? Hmmm

    1. Yep. She’s going to award all her developer donors. This is another slap in the face to the middle and working class of CA. Only the rich who can afford private clubs will be able to enjoy golf. Why are low IQ types flooding the CA Legislature? Oh, I forgot. Dummies elect them.

  9. Define “affordable” in dollars and cents.
    Isn’t there already a rule about 15% of development housing built has to be “low-income” housing?
    Which I still don’t understand how some of the houses must be designated for low-income but the house can’t be built differently than the “higher priced” houses in the development. Can anyone explain that?

  10. The housing sold at market prices is required to subsidize the “low income housing,” which, as you’ve noted, is no different in quality, style, or amenities. Add to that all the other regulatory garbage that the state requires to build housing and the market rate housing quickly becomes UN-affordable for most. This is one way the state, seemingly arbitrarily, has punished developers and prospective homeowners over the years. And my understanding is that those who procure the “low income housing” can never own the housing in the way we think of it, can never build equity, etc., because the “affordable housing” low-income rules must be passed on to the next occupant. To me that means that they are not allowed to sell the property at market prices to whomever they choose but must play by different rules. I don’t even want to think of or speculate about the bureaucratic nightmare that would be involved when the original occupants want to move out.
    And that is just ONE ugly face of the many ugly faces of so-called “affordable housing,” which by the way is just another misleading leftist label.

  11. I think it is time to get a proposition going that requires all county and city employee parking lots to be”free zones” for the homeless to set up camp.

  12. funny how the democrats think we shouldn’t spend our money how we want, as if we’re being immoral for not giving handouts.

    upon what grounds do you claim the right to reward the worthless, filthy, unemployable dregs who give no s h i t s about us?

    upon what grounds do you airily wave away recreation, blaming golfers for having money?

  13. Perhaps if Garcia and her fellow California Democrats stopped aiding and abetting illegal immigration, the “need” for public housing wouldn’t be so pressing.

  14. I’m not a golfer nor an advocate, but is he going to commandeer any country clubs or private courses?—that would be the fair thing to do. For every public course used, then one private course must be seized as well.

  15. This is fantastic news for Kalefornia golfers. Ya got time ta play Golf? Great! Good for you. Then ya got time ta pay huge green fees at the private clubs and the cities associated with a municipal course can loose out on the monies derived from cheapskate golfers.

    1. CONFIRMED: Your virtue signal has been received. You may now move about the planet blissful in the comfort of knowing that everybody thinks you’re a really swell guy. Fuzzy feeling much, poser?

  16. Many of us prefer that incentives in the form of grants be provided to local governments to erect low income housing next to the mansions of the Democrat cabal in the legislature who completely control the state? Democrat Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia shouldn’t mind having some high density low income housing erected next to her estate?

  17. When you have a blue government ..you get stupid nonsense like this. U-Haul and Hertz are going to be very busy and these liberals turn California into a rat hole.

  18. The leftists are not stupid. Stop making the mistake of thinking they are. When ridiculous and deliberately inflammatory legislation that has little chance of passing is put forward, the intent is usually to provide a circus to distract us from something else they’re up to. This is a signal that we all need to do some digging, especially into whatever other bills Garcia and her associates have recently authored or sponsored.

    1. Yes, John. Cal Matters does some of the digging (https://calmatters.org/?s=Cristina%20Garcia) but I would prefer a line-item accounting of each contributor/lobbyist over a certain $$$ amount for each legislator updated on a regular basis and published for all to see. Sunlight is the best disinfectant; since secrecy and deception are the favorite tools of the commissars.

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