Mar 24, 2022
Assembly Bill 1910 – the “Golf Endangerment Act” – which would turn the policy, the money, and the administrative powers of the State of California against municipal golf courses – is back to life in the State Legislature. Officially titled “Conversion of Publicly Owned Golf Courses to Affordable Housing”, AB-1910 on March 23 sailed through the Assembly Housing Committee on a party-line 6-2 vote. This is the same margin won at the Housing Committee in January 2022 by the identically worded predecessor Assembly Bill 672, which died in January 2022 in the Appropriations Committee. Next stop this time around for AB-1910 is a hearing at the Assembly Local Government Committee in mid-to-late April, though no hearing date has yet been set.
Authored by Assembly Member Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), it would create a new program (whose details and budgt are not yet set), administered by the State Department of Housing and Community Development, to induce and help cities convert their public golf courses to housing tracts.
Attacking golf is an old political attention-grabbing trick. But scapegoating golf hardly offers a serious solution to California’s housing shortage -- a complex problem decades in the making, as analyzed by the Public Policy Institute of California in a December 2021 report.
AB-1910 is based on arguments that golf is now “in decline,” that golf is only for the elite, that public golf courses are inaccessible to “low-income communities and communities of color,” and that public golf courses are not parks and have no use or value to non-golfers. But these stereotypes and untruths are all debunked in detailed letters to the Assembly Housing Committee from the California Alliance for Golf , the United States Golf Association and the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance.
Big developers have long coveted the wide-open spaces of California’s golf courses and other parklands. Under the sympathetic flag of “affordable housing,” developers are first going after the golf courses. And this bill is filled with goodies for the development industry: (1) Paragraph 20871(a) and (b) of the bill only require that 25 percent of of the housing be "affordable" to "lower income households"; (2) the bill's targets are not just urban and suburban courses, but all publicly owned courses in the State; and (3) only 15% of the property must be kept in public open space.
One thing is clear about AB-1910: it picks on exactly those golfers – African Americans and other racial minorities, women, seniors, and schoolchildren – that National Golf Foundation says are golf’s fastest-growing groups - and the most benfitted by the affordability and accessibility of the municial courses. In effect, Assembly Member Garcia and AB-1910’s advocates are saying people shouldn’t play golf if they can't afford the resorts and country clubs.
As muni golfers, we have a big problem with this. If you agree, please send a comment to your State Legislators. AND write a letter ASAP to the Assembly Local Government and Housing Committees (Download the form letter by clicking HERE). Put it on letterhead, personalize it, date it and put an electronic or Word font signature on it, and e-mail us a pdf copy. We'll file it for you with the Committees. Any questions? Ask us.
And Thank You.
San Francisco Public Golf Alliance email@example.com