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Comment from a neighbor

We received this comment from Keith Parodi, a neighbor. We’re posting it with his permission. If you’d to appear in a post on the blog, just use the comment function and I’ll put it up for you!

I would like to thank all involved in all your hard work and dedication to preserving the golf course. I like the new look to the website and clarifying the supposed rumors and message from new owners to with Mr. Holder. It is important that we stick to the facts and react as one group. Keep up the great work in your spare time, as I know you all have day jobs and family’s to worry about as well. Happy Holidays and God Bless
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Report of Steering Committee Meeting

This provides a brief recap of the Steering Committee’s Meeting earlier this month.

  • I recapped a meeting I had with a couple of City Council members. The reason for the meeting was to let them know about the Steering Committee and to open a line of communication.  They have not received anything from the owner.
  • We will need funding support from outside resources to effectively run a campaign to protect our interests. Two local realtors have already pledged to support our efforts with donating a portion of the proceeds of every sale in the neighborhood.  Big thanks to Joe Norton of Alain Pinel and Cindi Hagley of J. Rockcliff!
  • Good ways to draw attention to our cause and show support are yard signs and banners.
yard-sign

They are available at Vista Print.  The above sign costs about $17 that includes a stand.  You can order it or other options on their site:  sanramon.biz.vistaprint.com.

  • We discussed a Mission Statement and discussed various recommendations. We will fine tune the recommendations for our next meeting.
  • We are moving forward with forming an LLC. This will provide a legal entity for collection and dispersal of funds as well as liability protection.
  • We will continue to seek environmental agency support.

News reported after the meeting is that completion of the Faria Reserve Project on the back nine may not be completed until February or later.  This is just an FYI as it is has nothing to do with the new golf course owner.

John Adams

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Stay the Course Steering Committee

Last week we had the first meeting of the “steering committee.”  The committee is a diverse group representing a variety of points of view.  The purpose of the committee is to represent the Stay The Course group regarding any issues with the golf course situation.  The first order of business was to select committee officers.  The following people were selected:

  • President: John Adams
  • Vice President : Frank Abajian
  • Treasurer: Gene Bucciarelli
  • Secretary: Paul Warren
  • At Large:
    • Jim Hart
    • Rinku Thakur
    • Jolee Gust
    • Michelle Hemenway
    • Scott Holder

It was also decided that they would be the officers of the LLC.

Sub committees were developed to provide input into plans to defend the community’s best interest.  The committee will meet on a regular basis to develop and evaluate short and long term tactics and strategies.  Our purpose is twofold:

  • Prepare ourselves with a successful responsive action against any action by the developer.
  • Proactively develop offensive plans of action to provide us leverage.

Currently, The biggest opportunity is to get the word out to all of San Ramon about this situation.  Encourage your friends and neighbors to support us and also subscribe to our blog at www.staythecoursesanramon.com.

John Adams

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A number of people have noted with alarm that a portion of the course has been fenced off and that there appears to be some sort of work going on. Is the new owner doing an end run around the city and is beginning to build?

No. Geoff Ho posted a comment about this last week:

The fencing on the back nine is for the construction work that will enhance part of the course as a riparian habitat. The riparian habitat is being made in a land trade with the Faria Preserve Project (the development behind Home Depot) to meet environmental requirements. Since Faria Preserve eliminated some riparian habitat the builder (Cal Atlantic) had to make up for it elsewhere. Cal Atlantic made an agreement with the prior SR Golf Club owner and got the various government agency approvals. The plan calls for planting 19 trees and 3,247 shrubs on the course and Cal Atlantic is paying for everything.

There is more information about this at http://www.sanramon.ca.gov/gprc/documents/04Land.pdf and http://www.danvillesanramon.com/news/2016/07/27/san-ramon-council-supports-faria-preserve-initiative-ordinance.

We published a blog post in August as well: http://staythecoursesanramon.com/index.php/2016/08/30/some-more-information-about-the-golf-course/

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Now It’s Camarillo Springs Golf Course

The Camarillo Springs Golf Course has been operating for nearly 50 years. Now, with the drought, the recession, El Nino and the current phase of the moon, the new owner of the course has decided that it is no longer “financially viable” as a golf course and may have to be converted to some other use.

Sound familiar? It should; the new owner, Cameleon Springs LLC, is headed by one Ronald Richards.

Owner says that between the drought, rising maintenance costs and fewer players, keeping the aging course open is no longer financially viable. Alternative uses are being sought.

It’s a familiar pattern. Read the article to see how similar this situation is to ours and other communities Mr. Richards has invaded.

It is very important that we keep organized and focused. Richards has not approached the city with any plans or proposals, but it is reasonable to assume that he will attempt to induce the city to rezone so he can build on the land he bought for twice the asking price.

Any development of the golf course–even a single house–will affect ALL of San Ramon, not just those 320  homes that are adjacent to the course. Spread the word among your neighbors and every other San Ramon resident you know. Get them to subscribe to the blog so they can stay informed and aware of any changes in the situation.

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A letter from the developer

Scott Holder received the following this week from the new owners of the golf course property.  There are some points that bear mentioning:

  1. No one–including Scott Holder–has proposed any form of negotiation with the developer
  2. This individual’s history with other golf course properties is available for review
  3. He is trying to frame his hoped-for development of a significant portion of the property in the most positive, appealing terms, as though he is trying to persuade the affected homeowners that his venture would be a good thing for the community
  4. As expected, he appears to be complaining that the course is not financially viable. He is evidently expecting us to forget that the overpaid by more than $4 million when he purchased the property

Edited on 10/30/16 at 6:18 PM to add content:

The letter to Scott Holder from the developer was unsolicited. He is evidently trying to lobby Scott, thinking he might get some sort of advantage when he (the developer) applies for a zoning change.

–Admin

Please remember that there is a process for developing any property. In order to erect so much as a birdhouse, there would have to be an Environmental Impact report and approval to amend the General Plan and zoning. Any changes would require a 4/5 vote of the City Council and a 4/5 vote of the Planning Commission. One of the City Council members must recuse himself (his home is on the course), so all four members of the Council would have to approve any change.

If the City Council and Planning Commission do not approve–and  there has been no application to date–there would have to be a referendum (proposition) where the community would vote whether to change the General Plan and zoning.

It is more important than ever for us to stay informed and aware. Any development of the property would affect far more than just the 325 homes that look directly on the course. PLEASE get every person you know in San Ramon to subscribe to the website and to the mailing list to keep informed on any new developments. You already know how quick and easy that is!

Comments are invited below.

{Beginning of letter from developer}

ISSUES

  • -Aging clubhouse and infrastructure
  • -Labor and water bills not sustainable
  • -Declining golf play
  • -Not economically feasible for the long term
  • -Closure is imminent

OPPORTUNITIES

  • -Preserve over 115 acres  (89%) as improved and permanent open space
  • -Limit development to less then 15 acres (11%)
  • -Keep in place 18 hole golf course, driving range, club house and pool
  • -Invest millions of dollars back into the infrastructure, irrigation, drainage, landscaping, the golf course, the pool, open space and the clubhouse
  • -Insure that the 115 acres stays green for generations to come
  • -Add additional amenities for the community to use
  • -Cap on unit count (no more then [sic] 180 units)
  • -Restrict development to 55+ (no impact on schools and very traffic impact)
  • -Development plan affects very few existing current views of homeowners
  • -Limit height to no more then two stories
  • -No apartment or condo buildings
  • -Prevent closure of the course and the issues that go along with closure such as fencing, brown grass, vagrancy and crime for years to come
  • -Preserve and increase existing home values
  • -Complete community input and involvement in the entire process

{end of letter from developer}

 

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Meeting Reminder

The next meeting of Stay the Course San Ramon will be this week:

Thursday, October 27, 2016
7:00 PM
Wedgewood Banquet Center
9430 Fircrest Lane, San Ramon

In particular, we will discuss the proposed “steering committee: and its function.

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Where we are now

Most readers of this blog have attended one or more of the several meetings we have had in connection with the matter of the San Ramon Golf Club and how to handle the developer from Beverly Hills who has aspirations of building several hundred townhomes on the site.

At one of our early meetings, organized by Scott Holder, there was some discussion about his going to Beverly Hills to meet with the new owner of the property to see what his intentions were for the property. This meeting generated a certain amount of controversy later. There was concern among many that this meeting might be an indication of weakness on our part, a willingness to negotiate somehow with the developer. This individual has a well-documented history of buying distressed golf courses, allowing them to go to blight, then attempting to use that as a sort of lever to induce the communities to change their zoning to allow him to build high-density housing on these sites.

We have had several community meetings over the past few months. One of the decisions coming from those meetings was to create a smaller committee, initially referred to as a “board of directors.” Sixteen people asked to be considered for that group.

As it has become more apparent that the prevailing sentiment is to stand firm and to oppose any attempts to rezone the property, a reasonable question was raised: “What do we need a ‘board of directors’ for? We’re not going to be negotiating anything.” For what it’s worth, here’s my (Joe Parsons, your humble blog admin) two cents: In a very real sense, we as a community are under attack from someone whose only motivation and interest is his own profit. That this hoped-for profit would come at the expense of harming our community and the value of our homes concerns him not in the slightest.

His only leverage at this time is the threat to close the golf course and allow it to go brown. That leverage becomes worthless when we as a community say, “We like the brown just fine; it’s better than looking at a bunch of condos where open space used to be.” It is important for us to stay aware of any new developments and to stay in touch and organized. That is the purpose of having a “board” or, perhaps more accurately, a “steering committee.” There is no discussion whatsoever of entering into any sort of negotiations with the developer. And there is no interest among the City Council or Planning Commission to agree to rezone the property. The two challengers for the Council seats have publicly expressed their resolve NOT to support any change in the General Plan.

Holding meetings with 300 people or more is not only unwieldy and loud; it is also expensive to secure the space and organize. It seems to be more sensible and efficient to have a smaller number of people to serve as a steering committee to keep our community organized and aware and, if necessary, to call everyone to action if an occasion demanded it.

With that said, Scott Holder has set up a community meeting:

Thursday, October 27, 2016
7:00 PM
Wedgewood Banquet Center
9430 Fircrest Lane, San Ramon

We’ll use this time to be sure everyone is fully informed about any new developments. In the meantime, PLEASE raise your neighbors’ awareness of this important issue. There are 325 homes that look out on the golf course, and at least twice that many more who would be directly (and negatively) affected by any development of the property. Today, we have 198 people subscribed to the mailing list, 340 people subscribed to this blog, and 334 people who have “liked” the Facebook page. That’s less than half of the people who should be deeply concerned and involved.

Spread the word, folks. It’s important.

Joe Parsons

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Candidates for Stay the Course Board

These are the people who have expressed interest in serving on the Board of Directors of the to-be-formed Stay the Course organization. If you believe you should be on the list for consideration, please leave a comment. Also, if your name is on this list, please leave a comment with a few words about yourself and why you’d like to serve. We’ll have a meeting within the next couple of weeks to get everyone up to speed and vote on the candidates.

Frank Abajian
John Adams
Jeff Bolwsby
Diana Brown
Gene Bucciarelli
David Ernest
Jolee Gust
Jim Hart
Geoff Ho
Scott Holder
Joe Norton
Joe Parsons
Travis Sexton
Rinku Thakur
Pat Tuohy
Joe Weyandt
We’ll vote to select 5 or 7 of these candidates at the meeting.
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Some thoughts from local resident Ryan James

I have just received the following from Ryan James, a local homeowner. I am posting it here with his permission.

Name Ryan James
E-mail
Phone Number
Make comment public? yes
Questions or comments? Is anyone clear on who we should vote for to make sure the Hollywood developer that bought the course doesn’t have a voice in our City?  Since there hasn’t been any formal proposal submitted to the City (yet), the candidates can’t really comment on how they would vote, but from what I can infer the two incumbents, Phil O’Loane and Scott Perkins, seem to be our best bet.  The Contra Costa Voter Information Guide came in the mail last week and I noticed O’Loane and Perkins wrote personal narratives.  The narrative for Sabina Zafar appears in the third person and doesn’t mention anything about Open Space.  Is this an indication that Sabina is backed by the developer and he is managing her campaign?  Perhaps a stretch, but then I noticed last week that candidates posted/attached signs to the iron fencing behind the 13th green of the golf course along Pine Valley Road between Thunderbird and Blue Mound.  All these signs were subsequently removed except for one…Sabina Zafar.  I haven’t seen anything written or posted for the final candidate, Susmita Nayak.  I don’t know any of these candidates, all I want to know is who will protect San Ramon Open Space, particularly the golf course.  Does anyone have more definitive facts on who to vote for?
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