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East Bay Times articles about the golf course

Sam Richards, a reporter at the East Bay Times, has written four articles recently about the golf course. After reading the most recent, “San Ramon: Golf course neighbors to fight plan to shutter course” published on 9/23/16, I realized that there is an emerging narrative about the changes in the San Ramon Golf Course. In the Times article, Ron Richards, one of the new owners who bought the property in hopes of developing it with high-density housing, is quoted:

“We are trying to work with the community to build homes on a small section of the course, leaving the rest as permanent open space with golf….It will be closed and fenced if we cannot work out a long-term solution with the community and the city.”

Richards and his group have not reached out to any of the residents in pursuit of his profits. According to members of the City Council, he has made no overtures or application to the City to change the zoning or amend the General Plan. His office has leaked a map showing many townhomes on a portion of the golf course, but the map–an architectural sketch with no identifying labels–was clearly designed to cause anxiety in the community.

It is also apparent that there are surrogates who have begun to appear in the comments to this blog and in other venues. These are people with changing identities (possibly one person) who post in support of negotiating with the developers. This individual has raised the specter of costly litigation. It is important to keep in mind that the San Ramon Golf Club property is zoned as “Golf Course/Agricultural.” In order to build so much as a doghouse, both the zoning and the General Plan would have to be changed. This can only be accomplished by a 4/5 vote of the City Council AND the Planning Commission or a referendum (proposition) that would come to a vote in a general election. In order for anyone to enter into litigation, one of the parties would to have done something actionable–and  refusing to change the zoning to allow a developer to erect several hundred townhomes on what is now open space does not fall into that category.

The other stories that have appeared in East Bay Times so far are

San Ramon: Is pool closure first salvo in golf course battle (5/12/16)

San Ramon Golf Course owners, city may discuss property’s future (6/28/16)

San Ramon Golf Club owners plan to shutter course if houses aren’t allowed (9/21/16)

San Ramon: Golf course neighbors to fight plan to shutter course (9/23/16)

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Ron Pugh September 27, 2016, 1:41 pm

    Good information for people to understand. The property is zoned as Golf Course. There’s nothing to do but stay on top of any whispers of information related to someone trying to change that.

    As far as keeping the course open? The course is doomed from that perspective. Richards will close the course (as is his method of operation) in December 2016 after his contractual obligations to keep it open for one year have completed. Accepting this fate leads to one primary path to take: Let the course shutdown and turn to brown. Make sure the property forever stays zoned as Golf Course. Watch Richards lose 75% or more of his investment. We can always rebuild a course as long as homes are not built where the holes used to be. I look forward to rebuilding it….we can call it Royal Vista again!!

    • Julius Kahn III September 27, 2016, 2:59 pm

      I comment as a home owner that borders the 11th fairway. If Mr. Richards is honest and forthright about working with the home owners, he should submit to all the home owners and city a definitive plan for his proposed development before any consent is given by the home owners or City Planning Commission and City Council. Any agreement to a planned development must include a provision that there will be no further taking for residential development or commercial expansion on the golf course property. J.K. III

      • Admin September 27, 2016, 3:13 pm

        You can get an idea of Mr. Richards’ tactics regarding other communities by reading the “History” section of the website.

      • Ron Pugh September 27, 2016, 9:40 pm

        Richards and crew overpaid for the course by $4M (they paid $8M). If the property remains zoned as golf course, it will no longer be worth the $4M it was originally listed for if he shuts it down and lets turn to weeds. It costs a lot of money to return a golf course to form. If he let’s it go but we as a community keep it zoned as a golf course, the value of the property will likely drop to $2M. That’s a 75% loss. Richards might sit on it for a while, but only a moron would sit on a 75% loss for very long.

        Do your research on Richards and Schlesinger. Start with the “chicken manure” incident.

  • Adam Holden September 27, 2016, 3:32 pm

    I too have noticed how Mr. Richards continually speaks of trying to “work with the community.” This is clearly false but if it is repeated enough in the media, those in the larger San Ramon community and outside our area may view this as truth.

    After seeing him make this comment in the Channel 7 report and again reading it in the paper, I have given a lot of thought to the discussion at the meeting last week. While I fully respect others opinions and have the utmost repect and admiration for Scott who had been doing amazing work or our group, I have changed my mind and no longer support our group reaching out to him to have a discussion about his intents. I state this for several reasons and hope it will generate some thought among others:
    1) Richards has no, zero, nada, zip respect or concern for our community. This is purely about money to him. If we approach him, he will view this as us beginning to fracture as a community and cave to him. We are approaching him to negotiate our surrender.
    2) Our approaching him will give his false claims in the press legitimacy. If he truely wants to work something out with the community, then HE needs to make the overture to us, not the other way around.
    3) “Leaking,” a drawing of what might or might not be proposed is not having a discussion with the community. It is an underhanded way of making a threat.
    4) Our city has extremely tough rules to change the zoning and general plan. I think that at this point, I have decided that I trust our city leaders to stand behind us. Maybe this is naive, but they are all part of our community. It would take 4/5 of the planning commission AND 4 out of 4 (since Dave Hudson would have to recuse himself) votes of the city council to change the zoning and general plan. We need only two votes on the planning commission and ONE on the city council to block any change.
    5) I think that the end run around the planning commission and city council is remote. If he were able to get an initiative passed in San Ramon to support his development, then shame on us for not educating the community and having a closer community to support each other.

    Last, when I look at the best case scenario under these owners – they shut down the golf course, fence it off (if the city doesn’t block this as there are already numerous fences in place), let the course die. We then stand fast – NO development on the golf course. Well, I for one, can live with a natural open space behind me. We love the surrounding hills, just brings them a bit closer to home. Sure, it would be nice to have green belt, but I will take open space.

    • Ronald Richards September 28, 2016, 6:15 am

      Hi Mr. Holden, we are reaching out to the community. We have been reaching out through Scott Holden and the group that is being formed with election of its officers. I am reaching out to you now as well. Please feel free to contact me anytime.

      • Renae Wilber September 28, 2016, 9:16 am

        Whoa, I did not know that Scott Holder has met with the Developer’s attorney and signed a non-disclosure agreement. Say it isn’t so!!! Is it possible that Scott Holder started this group to rope everybody in and then to attempt to influence a compromise on behalf of the developer? Please tell me I’m wrong…but a developer that will spread chicken manure on a golf course to intimidate the residents will go to any lengths. Scott, I have two very honest questions for you – (1) When was the first time you had any contact with the developer or any of his representatives? (2) Were you paid money or offered promises to negotiate on behalf of the developer? I’m afraid your tactics have blindsided me, and I would like answers. Thank you.

        • Adam Holden September 28, 2016, 9:45 am

          STOP!!! Scott can answer for himself, but this is over the top. Scott has acted openly and with the full support of this group.

          • Renae Wilber September 28, 2016, 12:15 pm

            It is not possible for one to be transparent or act openly when signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement with the attorney that represents the adversary in this matter. Attempting to censor one’s very legitimate concerns is not conducive to enlightenment. Did Scott attend this meeting alone? Did Scott actually sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement? If so, how does Scott reconcile signing such an agreement with the adverse party and believe he can maintain transparency and honesty with our community. I do not know Scott personally. I do not know his motivations. I would like answers. In this serious situation that demands 100% transparency and honest answers, there is no room for silencing anyone’s questions.

        • Admin September 28, 2016, 9:48 am

          Scott posted his report of his meeting back in June: http://staythecoursesanramon.com/index.php/2016/06/23/notes-from-scott-holder/. There is nothing shady going on.

          • Scott Tryon October 2, 2016, 4:41 pm

            Have you noticed that Ron Richard is on this link. Who invited him. Is this a safe site to talk? He is reaching to Adam Holden now.

          • Admin October 2, 2016, 4:52 pm

            The blog is public. Ron Richards has posted once here as himself. He (and/or one of his surrogates) has posted under different identities (we call them “sock puppets”) in comments to some of the East Bay Times articles. It doesn’t matter whether he reads these posts or their responses or, for that matter whether he or any of his representatives attends any of the public meetings. The simple facts are that 1) The property is zoned Golf Course/Agricultural at present; 2) Four out of four of the current City Council members would have to vote in favor of a rezone (Dave Hudson must recuse himself, as he lives on the golf course); 3) Getting a rezone and amendment of the General Plan to allow ANY houses–even one–would then have to go before the voters in a ballot measure. Wonder how much support he could gin up for that, especially given a highly motivated and well-informed group of voters. There are 325+ homes that back up to the golf course, so that means 650 or more residents who would be directly affected by any building on the property.

          • Scott Tryon October 2, 2016, 4:55 pm

            Thanks for your response.

  • Renae Wilber September 27, 2016, 9:19 pm

    I am not sure of the best place to post this, but one of my concerns from history of other golf courses being purchased is the upcoming reelection for two city council seats and whether or not the incumbents and/or their challengers would take campaign funds from anyone who represents the interests of Schlesinger (Developer). I received a very straightforward response from Scott Perkins. I have known the Perkins family for many years and have absolute respect for their dedication to our community and for Scott’s integrity. If ever there is a time to get out and vote, it is this year. Even if worst case scenario we were only to have Scott Perkins on board, his one vote can keep the golf course from being rezoned. Although he cannot commit to that in writing before anything is up for a vote, I believe he has made his intentions thus far, very clear. I believe now more than ever, that we need to make sure he continues to represent our interests as a member of city council. Please help get the word out if you agree. Here is his response:

    Scott Perkins September 26, 2016, 11:09 pm
    As I said last Thursday at the meeting, I voted for the “Golf Course” land use designation as a member of the city council. It was the right vote then and I believe that it is the right designation now.

    Regarding campaign contributions, my contributions are a matter of public record. All contributions over $100 must be disclosed by name and occupation. I personally know every person that has contributed to my campaign. I have not nor will I accept any contributions from Richardson, Schlesinger or anyone associated with them or with their companies.

    I pledge that I will not Abstain from any vote regarding the San Ramon Golf Course.

    Scott Perkins
    Vice Mayor
    Candidate for re-election to City Council

  • Marty September 28, 2016, 4:25 pm

    250 houses would put another 500 cars in the neighborhood. Add the condos and that’s maybe another 200-300 cars? I was curious so I checked Dublin Honda’s website. They claim to have 200 cars in their inventory. Drive by Dublin Honda and see what 200 cars look like. Their lot looks like the Coliseum’s during an A”s game.

  • Jeff September 28, 2016, 8:20 pm

    Lots of speculation and misinformation being posted unfortunately. Let us not forget that unlike the other communities challenged, we have strong administrative controls in place here in San Ramon that define and protect the greater needs and wishes of our larger community, in addition to those of us as adjacent property owners, which are useful for defending against attacks by special interests. Recognizing that there is uncertainty now and ahead, the sky is not falling and we have no need to overreact. As an architect I have significant professional experience with real estate development and in interfacing with developers and city planning agencies. Threats to turn the course off are an infantile and typically futile approach in attempting to persuade people into working with you. What will we see next, a temper tantrum? Resorting to 500-lb gorilla tactics is a sign of weakness, not sophistication. We are not that gullible and recognize that we are in a position of strength in this situation.

    If they were smart this new golf course owner would realize the wisdom and benefit to themselves for keeping the course green and alive, even improving it to enhance their current income stream, while in good faith pursuit of any changes they contemplate. It would be a more effective use of their resources vs adversarial tactics, and their losses would be minimized when they are not successful.

  • Pam September 29, 2016, 12:28 am

    For the last 6 months some concerned citizens of our beautiful city have been trying to get the word out and educate our community about the intentions of the new owners of our golf course.
    The new owners have used some malicious tactics in other cities in California and Nevada when not allowed to build housing on the courses.

    We all have a common goal “to protect our community from unwanted development”. Let’s keep our eye on the prize and promote positive supportive commentary and actions.

    We have a special community here in San Ramon. Last week a list of the top 100 most desirable cities in the U.S. was published. The first city in California listed at #21 is San Ramon!

    We are a proud city with strong city government. We need to trust that.

    We also have to ask ourselves what positive actions have we personally taken to save our course?

    Have we circulated flyers to our entire neighborhood showing what our new owners have done to the other courses they have purchased? (A picture is worth a thousand words!)

    Have we posted signs and banners showing our support of ‘Stay the Course’?

    Have we written letters or called the mayor, city council (including candidates running in November) to state our concerns?

    Have we contacted the Planning and Development groups?

    How about contacting our assembly and congressional representatives since this is also a state issue.

    Have we contacted all media outlets? Ie. The Investigative Unit, ‘7 ‘ on Your Side, San Ramon Valley Times, etc.

    Have we attended all three of the community meetings?

    Have we researched what the new owner has done to bully the residents of Poway, Escondido, and Rancho Mirage by destroying their golf courses and property values. These tactics have been going on for a several years and while courses are destroyed not one building has been erected.

    The only reason a settlement at Rancho Mirage was finally agreed upon is because the homeowners filed a lawsuit against Oasis for $39M! Interesting!

    Let’s stay united and positive. Devisiveness is what these new owners thrive on. Time for Richards to put together a well thought out plan with the City of San Ramon in mind and formerly present it to the City.

    Let’s channel all our energy and emotion into working together for our common cause to “STAY THE COURSE”!

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