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Photo: ACTION ALERT: OPPOSE AB672 – “The Public Golf Endangerment Act”  UPDATE: AB672 failed to pass the Appropriations Committee.

Oh No! Not again!

ACTION ALERT: OPPOSE AB672 – “The Public Golf Endangerment Act”  UPDATE: AB672 failed to pass the Appropriations Committee.

Dec 16, 2021by - San Francisco Public Golf Alliance

UPDATE 20-Jan-2022: After passing in rushed Local Government & Housing and Community Development Committee hearings, AB672 failed to pass the Appropriations Committee.* 


A radical anti-golf attack in the guise of an “affordable housing” bill, California Assembly Bill 672, will be considered in January 2022 by two committees of the State Assembly – the Housing & Community Development and Local Government committees. The proposed law would appropriate $50 Million from the State General Fund as a bounty to entice cities to replace existing municipal golf courses in “densely populated areas” with high-density “affordable housing” developments. This appears intended as just the first step towards dismemberment of the State’s great network of municipal golf courses.

The bill is unanimously condemned by the State’s golfers and their organizations, including the California Alliance for Golf, the Northern California Golf Association, Southern California Golf Association, and San Francisco Public Golf Alliance. (See full text of the SFPGA position statement, below.)

We urgently request golfers – muni and private club players of all ages, abilities, genders, persuasions, and ethnic and social backgrounds -- and their groups and clubs (1) to submit, not later than January 5, 2022, letters opposing AB672 to the Assembly committees, and (2) send e-mails to individual committee members at their separate offices.

  1. Letters to the committees should have a letterhead, should be dated and signed, and submitted at least a week in advance of committee hearings.

Click Here to download a form letter adaptable for individual, group and club use. Customize to add to your own personal reasons for objecting to AB672.

Letters can be submitted by mail or electronically through the Legislature’s Advocates Portal to the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee and the Local Government Committee. If you need help with this, contact us at Info@SFPublicGolf.org.

  1. E-mails to individual legislators’ offices (see customizable forms below). Especially important to send e-mails to the individual offices of Housing and Local Government committee members, including in Northern California: Housing Committee Chair Buffy Wicks (Oakland-Berkeley-Richmond-Hercules);Ash Kalra (San Jose); Kevin Kiley (El Dorado, Placer, and eastern part of Sacramento County); Local Govt. Committee Chair Cecelia Aguiar-Curry (Napa, Davis, Woodland, Vacaville); Robert Rivas (Salinas, Gilroy, etc)

Form e-mail For Golfers    Find Your Representative

Please send us, by e-mail to info@sfpublicgolf.org, copies of any letters or e-mails that you submit to the Committees and/or to individual legislators.

Open Letter from the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance in Opposition to AB672:


December 10, 2021

Assembly Housing & Community Development Committee
Assembly Member Buffy Wicks, Chair
Legislative Office Building, 1020 N St., Room 156
Sacramento, Ca. 95814

Assembly Local Government Committee
Assembly Member Cecelia M. Aguiar-Curry, Chair
Legislative Office Building, 1020 N St., Room 157
Sacramento, CA. 95814

Re: OPPOSITION to Assembly Bill 672 – “Conversion of Publicly-owned Golf Courses to Affordable Housing” -- from the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance

Dear Chairpersons Wicks and Aguiar-Curry, and Committee Members,

The non-profit, public benefit San Francisco Public Golf Alliance strongly opposes California Assembly Bill 672, and urges you to not pass it out of Committee. AB 672, re-written in September after it failed to clear the Housing and Community Development Committee in April 2021, appears designed to be the first step towards dismemberment of California’s wonderful municipal golf network, by offering a $50 Million inducement from the State Treasury to encourage cities to replace their existing municipal golf courses with high-density residential development.

This would be very bad public policy and a misuse use of public funds because it effectively targets and scapegoats a single popular recreational open-space use - golf - to solve California’s complex, decades-long problem of insufficient housing. Rather than attempting to bring people together to solve a mutual problem, AB672 offers a divisive, disruptive, faux solution that is certain to provoke anger, division, controversy, negative publicity, and years of litigation. AB 672 therefore cannot possibly bring about its professed goal of a relatively simple and easy near-term increase in housing of any kind, low-income or otherwise.

The redrafted AB672 would incentivize cities to replace rare green open space in already park-poor “densely populated areas” with yet more high-density residential development – further reducing the amount of green open space in affected areas by 85%. (Section (b)(1)(B)(2). In times of climate change and ever-warming urban cores, elimination of large green open spaces in the inner cities would be a move in exactly the wrong direction. Other than setting a 25% “affordable” minimum and imposing new administrative obligations on cities for housing voucher, compliance monitoring, and equity-sharing programs (Section 50870 [b][1] [A] and [B]), AB672 is vague as to exactly how it would achieve its “affordable housing” goals: Section (e) sets no uniform standards or criteria to clarify housing and development standards, but rather would leave it to the Department of Housing and Community Development to set standards at some unspecified future time. Many more grounds for opposition to AB672 are enumerated in this California Alliance for Golf memo.

Most California golf is played on public courses -- municipal courses in particular, which host the high school teams, junior leagues, and most of the state’s large numbers of senior, retired, and ethnic minority golfers. Golf is an outdoor activity and inherently socially distanced. Combined with large increases in work-from-home over the past two years, golf play has increased 25-30% on municipal courses throughout the state since courses reopened in May 2020 following the initial COVID shutdowns.

The 6,500-plus members of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance reflect the broad range of California’s several million public course golfers of all ages, genders, persuasions, colors, ethnicities, languages, and economic and social strata. As a group, the golfers are passionate about their recreation. And they have friends and families who sympathize with their passion and who will join their opposition to AB 672.

By scapegoating golf for California’s housing problems, AB 672 would antagonize a broadly-based, and highly motivated population of golfers and their networks, and a large sector of the sports and recreation world. AB 672’s controversial and polarizing approach is not a productive way to get our society to effectuate positive solutions for the complex and difficult issue of housing supply. In fact Assembly Bill 672 would have just the opposite effect.

So we urge your Committees to reject AB 672.

Respectfully,
San Francisco Public Golf Alliance

Richard Harris

Richard Harris, President

cc:
Assembly Member Cristina Garcia
James Ferrin, President, California Alliance for Golf
Kevin Heaney, Executive Director, Southern California Golf Association
Joe Huston, CEO, Northern California Golf Association
Nikki Gatch, President, Southern California PGA
Len Dumas, Executive Director, Northern California PGA


  *UPDATE 20-JAN-2022: AB672 passed through a rushed, prejudicial process in the Local Government and Housing and Community Development Hearings that failied to acknowledge many of the letters of objection from golfers and golf organizations. The San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, with many other organizations, continued to press our case before the Appropriation Committee hearing. The bill failed to clear that committee. Brad Klein reports at First Call:

"California bill targeting public courses stalls — for now"

"A legislative initiative that would have enabled municipally owned golf courses in California to be plowed under for redevelopment into housing has stalled in committee. The battle over the bill that could threaten 177 of the state’s golf courses is not over, however. Supporters and opponents expect a revival of the bill in one form or another in the California State Legislature in the near future...

Concern about the bill included the vague language of the proposal, providing no clear threshold for what counts as “affordable housing,” nor for “low income.” Moreover, claims about the value of municipal golf courses to the community have focused narrowly on whether they are self-sustaining or a drain on public revenues and exclude entirely their value as environmental greenspaces, habitats and ambient cooling zones for densely built up urban areas where open space is at a premium. Nor have supporters considered the value of public access to golf as recreation accessible to minorities, women and youth that these courses provide. There has been strenuous opposition to the bill by public golf groups representing minority, youth and female golfers who disputed the bill’s underlying assumption that golf ground was being misused... 

The idea, for example, of plowing up open space for paved-over hardscape housing makes little sense in the face of so much other, already paved-over areas (shopping malls, parking lots, office buildings) that are moribund and could much more readily be converted to affordable housing. Meanwhile, the constructive role that golf courses play in storm water management, providing tree coverage and much-needed urban space enclaves for flora, fauna and pollinators needs to be made known more widely."  

This bill was stalled, but the it's proponents are promising to bring it back. We'll be watching. 

 


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