California Looks to Turn Some Golf Courses Into Affordable Housing Sites

California Looks to Turn Some Golf Courses Into Affordable Housing Sites
A view of Willowick Golf Course owned by the City of Garden Grove, though it is located in Santa Ana, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Vanessa Serna

Some California publicly-owned golf courses may soon be turned into affordable housing sites under a proposed state assembly bill.

Assembly Bill 1910—proposed by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) in February—passed in the Assembly Local Government Committee on April 28 after a 5–2 vote.

“Dense urban communities like mine have very few feasible spaces left to build, the state and local governments need to start thinking outside the box when it comes to building housing units,” Garcia said in a statement.

The proposed bill would be applicable to publicly-owned golf courses—about 250 out of the total 1,100 in the state—and incentivize local governments to transform these sites into affordable housing units, according to an April 26 bill analysis.

Under the proposal, the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development would offer grants to local agencies working with developers to convert the golf courses for residential use—while ensuring that at least 25 percent of the land is dedicated to lower-income housing and 15 percent must be public open space, according to the bill analysis.

The bill is anticipated to help the state fulfill the large number of housing units required by California’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)—which mandated local governments in Southern California to build over 1.3 million units—and reach the California Department of Housing and Community Development goal of building 100,000 units per year, according to the bill analysis.

California Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY), an affordable housing advocacy group, is in support of the bill for its potential to free up more land for housing.

“One of the reasons that housing is difficult to build is shortage of land that this bill would help address,” YIMBY’s statement read.

However, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit organization advocating for preservation of parks and open spaces, opposed the bill, stating it would allow more cities to “monetize the property as much as possible” and leave out community voices in the development process.

“TPL is currently working on a golf course in Orange County, where the citizens of Santa Ana overwhelmingly want more park space and had to sue the city to prevent it from rushing to build a water park and market-rate housing,” TPL’s opposition statement read. “We think this bill would just empower more cities to … monetize the property as much as possible, even if that’s not what the community wants.”

The opposers of the bill include dozens of golf clubs in the state.

The bill will be heard in the Appropriations Committee later on an unspecified date.