Dec 16, 2021by - San Francisco Public Golf Alliance
UPDATE 20-Jan-2022: After passing in the Local Government & Housing and Community Development Committees, AB672 failed to pass the Appropriations Committee. Updated Report Linked HERE.*
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.
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.
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)
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] [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.
San Francisco Public Golf Alliance
Richard Harris, President
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 the Local Government and Housing and Community Development Committees via a rushed, prejudicial process that failed 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 and the bill failed to clear that committee. Although this bill was stalled, it's proponents are promising to bring it back. We'll be watching.