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Some thoughts about the Golf Course Situation

Even though I am involved in the “Stay the Course San Ramon” group, I am NOT expressing any opinion on behalf of the group or of any homeowners. This is just my take on the situation, from the viewpoint of someone who has been a real estate broker for close to 4 decades (swear to GOD, I couldn’t be that old!).

I should also note that I do not live in direct proximity to the San Ramon Golf Club; I live in neighboring Sunny Glen. Development of the property (or its deterioration) would affect me far less than those residents closer to the golf course.

For anyone who is just returning from a trip from Alpha Centauri and isn’t familiar with what’s going on, here’s the Reader’s Digest account:

In January of this year, a group of investors and developers from Beverly Hills, headed by attorney Ronald Richards and developer Michael Schlesinger, bought the San Ramon Golf Club, which had been on the market for $4.1 million. They reportedly paid nearly $9 million for the 128-acre property. Based on their past history, their plan is to close the course after the end of their promise to keep the course open for one year. They would like to build homes on this very valuable parcel of real estate.

There are at least 120 homes that abut the course, and whose standard of living and property values would surely be negatively affected by this action. Others in the surrounding area would also feel the negative effects in the form of greater property density, more traffic, more crowded schools and possibly (depending on the type of housing proposed) an increased crime rate.

The property is zoned Golf Course/Agricultural. In order to build, the City Council and Planning Commission would have to agree, by a 4/5 vote, to amend the General Plan and change the zoning to allow Richards and his partners to build townhomes and other structures on what is now a golf course and open space. There is little evident support among the Council members for such a change in the General Plan or zoning.

No one can force the owners to continue to operate the property as a golf course. There are city ordinances to prevent blight and “nuisance,” but the fines–$1,000 per day–are trivial compared to the potential gains, which could run over $100 million for Richards and his backers.

In the past, Richards has bought golf courses, closed them and allowed them to go to blight. He clearly believes that the prospect of a brown, dry golf course will ultimately force the homeowners to agree to his plan. He has claimed that he is “willing to sit on the property for 100 years if necessary” until he gets his way.

Speaking as a real estate broker and mortgage lender, I can say that, at least for the homes adjacent to the present course, building homes of any kind there will cause an immediate drop in value of $20,000 or more for each property (I can explain exactly why if anyone is interested in specifics).

It is a safe bet that Richards will close the course after his legal obligation to keep it open has terminated. Then there is the question of whether he will continue to water and cut the grass to any extent. I believe this will be the case regardless of whether there is any prospect of a rezone in the near future or not. Golf courses are very expensive to maintain–think of the cost of keeping up a 128-acre lawn. Even if there were an immediate agreement to rezone and amend the General Plan, the process of getting the Tentative Map (subdivision) created and approved is not an overnight process. It can take years. I believe it is unlikely that he would agree to spend the considerable money to maintain the property during the time it would take to complete the process of a subdivision.

For Richards, letting these properties go to blight is his “nuclear option;” in other words, he considers his leverage to be his threat to ruin the property if he doesn’t get what he wants–a sort of “dog in the manger” approach. He assumes that the prospect of a large space of weeds will be enough to induce homeowners in the community to cave in to his demands.

We should all keep something in mind: Richards and his group are invaders. They are motivated ONLY by the prospect of making a great deal of money if they are successful. They have no interest in the community of San Ramon, or the effect on our standard of living, our schools or our property values. This is not an indictment of anyone in search of a profit, by the way–but I think it is important to keep in mind what his end goal is.

They bought this property knowing its zoning ad knowing the San Ramon General Plan. The bought the property gambling that they would be able to risk about $9 million ultimately to gain many times that. We as homeowners and residents of the City have absolutely no obligation to accommodate him in any way. His ONLY weapon is his threat of allowing the property to turn brown.

Someone has observed that if the golf course goes brown, it can ultimately be brought back–at least to green, open space. If there are houses on some or all of the space, it can NEVER be brought back.

I think the matter can be boiled down to two essential sides:

  1. Do we attempt to negotiate some compromise in advance in an effort to minimize any damage to real estate values and to the community in general, even though there is no actual proposal on the table? Is there a possibility of getting Richards and his group to agree to maintain the portion of the course that he does not develop so as to minimize the damage to the area?
  2. Do we stand fast in refusing to support a rezoning to allow Richards and his backers to go through with their plan, recognizing that the golf course will become 128 acres of fenced, brown grass?

The argument in favor of the first side includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Being proactive in negotiations could result in convincing Richards et al to agree to a smaller development, thereby preserving at least some portion of the open space and golf course.
  2. Opening early negotiation could give us some insight into what Richards and his group want and expect.

Arguments in favor of standing firm and opposing any move to rezone and amend the General Plan include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Richards et al purchased the property for $4 million above its asking price knowing its zoning did not support development. He took that risk with the assumption that the voters and the City would cave in to his demands.
  2. The developer is, not to put too fine a point on the matter, an invader. His only motive is a profit motive, irrespective of any harm to property values or the community in general. We (the voters and homeowners) owe him nothing.
  3. Homeowners are faced with two alternatives: some unknown number of residences (presumably condos or townhomes, because they are the most profitable to develop) on the one hand, a closed, brown former golf course on the other. There are many who believe that a closed golf course in or near their back yard is less odious than high density housing.
  4. Negotiating with the “invader” before he has made even an overture to the City and Planning Commission puts us in a weak negotiating position. It is up to him, not us, to make the first move.

I have written this to open an orderly dialogue on the matter. When we have 350 people in a room, conversation is nearly impossible. This medium may provide a better platform for people to air their views.

Please be aware that if you have not commented on this site before, your comment will not appear immediately; it will be held for moderation. After you have posted the first time, new comments you make should appear immediately. I try to approve all comments promptly.

Joe Parsons
Stay the Course website administrator

{ 47 comments… add one }
  • Larry September 24, 2016, 6:08 pm

    Misconception……

    No one, except the city has the right to negotiate or compromise. The BEST we can do is open a conversation. If that conversation leads to something productive, there is a POSSIBILITY that some ciitizens MAY go to one of the hearings and speak in favor of a proposal. Just as others MAY attend the same meeting and speak again. Therefore there can be NO COMPROMISE OR NEGOTIATION…..only a conversation…by OUR GROUP. Keep you friends close and….

  • Denny Glover September 24, 2016, 6:16 pm

    Well put Joe, thanks for the synopsis and home value information. One thing that I personally am wondering- what is the impact on our property values if the golf course is shuttered and fenced? Do you have any insight regarding that so we may at a minimum compare the property value impact of one scenario vs. the other.
    Thanks again for your input!
    Tank

    • Admin September 24, 2016, 6:31 pm

      That’s a little harder to assess. Appraisers make allowances for different aspects of properties, like square footage, room count, location and view. I would say that a home that backs up to lush green open space (like a golf course) would appraise for $20,000 more than a home that is identical in every other respect except for a “neighborhood” view (other homes). If the golf course is shuttered and fenced, there would still be open space, even if it is not as appealing as a lush green fairway. My hunch is that it would be a comparatively minor difference–possibly $5,000 compared to the course as it is. For anyone interested in how valuation works in an appraisal, I produced a short video on my business website: http://dublinmortgageblog.com/hb101-appraisal/. The video runs just a bit over 2 minutes. (yes, that’s a shameless plug for my other website! 🙂 )

      • Henry Shaw September 24, 2016, 10:14 pm

        Although I am not an affected homeowner, I live to the east of Alcosta in the Deer Ridge development. Our lot abuts open space to the east, which we believe adds value to our property (corroborate by local real estate agents). Our view from May until ~January is of golden (i.e., brown) hillsides populated by deer, wild turkeys, quail, foxes, coyotes, jackrabbits, pheasants, hawks…. It’s a never ending parade of wildlife. In the late winter and spring, the hillside is decorated with wildflowers (some of which I’ve “helped along” by scattering appropriate seeds).

        Should the new owners shutter the gold course and let it go fallow, my advice to the abutting owners would be to enjoy their view of a new”open space” in the heart of San Ramon, and fight tooth and nail against any form of rezoning. I’ll gladly help back any effort to block rezoning. In my mind (you may disagree), a view of an undeveloped open space is worth even more than a view of a gold course. You’ll have more privacy and won’t have to worry about windows being broken by errant golf balls! .

        Note that the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District has standards (enforcible the imposition of fines) for maintaining defensible fire breaks around properties. See .

        The new owners would arguably be responsible for mowing or discing a minimum of a 60′ break around the perimeter of the property. ” “All properties not in compliance will be placed on the abatement list and fees will be assessed in the form of a lien on the property.”:

        “1. All parcels shall provide 100-feet of defensible space around all structures. This can be achieved through landscaping or by mowing, discing, and/or spraying dry brush or native grasses to a height of 3-inches or less.

        “2. Parcels shall provide a 15-foot disced or bladed fuelbreak along the perimeter of the property. A fuelbreak is a continuous strip of land upon and from which all rubbish, weeds, grass or other growth that could be expected to burn has been abated or otherwise removed in order to prevent extension of fire from one area to another.
        EXCEPTION: Mowed fuelbreaks are only acceptable if an area cannot be disced due to terrain or other factors. Mowed fuelbreaks should be maintained at a maximum height of 3-inches and a minimum width of 60-feet.”

  • Linda September 24, 2016, 6:28 pm

    Very well said, thank you for your continued efforts

  • Admin September 24, 2016, 6:37 pm

    Posting this for Jan Murphy:

    I am not in the SR political circle , I am an original and very concerned homeowner! The Sept. 22nd meeting indicated some strong reps for Stay the Course will be necessary. Unfortunately, I didn’t note the names of either ladies who seemed knowledgeable and competent to be our representatives.

    The City Attorney, obviously, has no interest in what really happens to the San Ramon Golf Course or the impact and effect the sale of the SRGC is going to have on us (the residents who bought and live around the course).
    How does a concerned person like me nominate anyone?????

    Thank you,
    Jan Murphy

  • Bob September 24, 2016, 6:52 pm

    Joe,
    Thank you for your well thought out essay. I believe we need to create a strategy, of which a possible negotiation may be part, but not the only thing.Everyone is trying to do the right thing and there are differing opinions. Those on 9 and 18 have more to lose short term and of course if these owners get an inch they’ll quite happily take a mile. We need to stay together in spite of heated debate
    Best,
    Bob

  • Pete Domingo September 24, 2016, 6:56 pm

    Thank you for your thoughts on this issue. My only fear is a backdoor deal from one of the city councilmen era or zoning committee. Would that be possible? I just hope that the people we elected does not sell us out. Also, who would impose the fine and ensure compliance if the owners do not keep up the property?

    One of the owners is a lawyer with past experience on this same deal. Is there a legal loophole that the city may get blindsided by, and the flip side of that, has the city look into a legal loophole in favor of the homeowners. It’s hard for me to believe someone risking 9 million dollars for a lost cause.

  • Ruth Rydbeck September 24, 2016, 6:58 pm

    Great job Joe!! Concise and to the point……thank you!

  • Ron Pugh September 24, 2016, 7:08 pm

    Thank you for the consolidated synopsis.

    I disagree with one basic assumption you make at the top of the article:
    “I live in neighboring Sunny Glen. Development of the property (or its deterioration) would affect me far less than those residents closer to the golf course.”

    I think we are all affected equally. Here is the simple rundown:

    Schools are the easiest example to look at.
    We are already overcrowded.
    More homes equals more kids.
    More kids means even more crowding.
    More crowding at schools overwhelmingly leads to less performance.
    Less performance leads to a “lesser rated” school district.
    Worse school district equals lower property values for all (including neighboring cities such as Danville which is in our school district.

    We are all affected greatly. There are other examples besides just schools (traffic, police services, etc…).

    Let Richards pull his nuclear switch. Kaboom!! Let him him own weeds in perpetuity.

    • Admin September 25, 2016, 7:48 am

      I agree completely. The reason I inserted my disclaimer at the top is that development of the SRGC would be unlikely to affect property values in my neighborhood to the same extent as for those homeowners in closer proximity to the course. We are on the same page.

  • Eleezeh September 24, 2016, 7:23 pm

    Thank you Joe for the great insight. I am glad to see you as a member of the stay the course understand the impact to all of us living around the golf course. While we all had the chance to sell and move when the housing market went up, we decided to stay and live in this beautiful community. I agree early negotiations is a mistake. I also agree with Bob you give this owner one mile he will take the 128 acres. People who think there part of the golf course is not effected are mistaken, this guy did not pay 9 million dollars to build 200 houses and maintain a gold course. He paid 9 million to make billions. I passed Sunol golf course which is closed due to the drought. I live on the 18th hole I rather see the golf course closed and yellow grass growing like Sunol than to have 2 story town homes in front of my view and god knows who will live in those town homes.
    We need to make sure we work with our Mayor and city counsel and not take these matter in our hands by going and negotiation with people who have invaded our community.

  • Robin September 24, 2016, 9:38 pm

    I think brown has become my new favorite color!

    I much prefer the view of weeds to the view of high density housing.

  • SallyAnne September 25, 2016, 12:11 am

    We don’t live on the course, but are in the neighborhood & realize the significant impact any rezoning would have. It is also my belief that you cannot negotiate with these guys, they have one end result in mind, to eventually build on the entire course. If they are successful in rezoning that is what they will do, & we will have no control or say in the type of housing or where it will go, it will be whatever gives them the most $. Let it go brown, they will have to keep it mowed for fire safety, & backing up to open space is still a desirable feature when selling a home.

  • Ron Pugh September 25, 2016, 9:06 am

    Stand and fight vs compromise: If you compromise, the only one that works is one where the city (or an HOA is formed) is the entity that owns the course after agreement to let them build some homes. Otherwise, you end up in the same hostage situation. Now, how well do city golf courses work out? If we come across hard times, where does the public look to make cuts? Schools or the city golf course?

    I for one vehemently believe Ronald Richards and Michael Schlesinger (and their backers) can sit and own acres of brown weeds zoned as golf course for eternity while paying property taxes and nuisance fees all that time. They overpaid by $4M. If they let it go to brown weeds, it won’t be worth more than $4M while still zoned as a golf course. That is the fatal flaw. It’s the weak point in the death star.

    Unfortunately, we lost the course the day it was sold. It’s gone. In the future, we as a community can always help a new owner rebuild a golf course. Much harder to do so if homes have been built where the holes were.

  • Bill Olmo September 25, 2016, 10:21 am

    I don’t live on the course but do use Fircrest to get to Alcosta. When we moved here there was plenty of open space, Senior Center, Old Ranch Road, etc. The rural view was great, part of what attracted us to move here.
    So it’s FUSR (f***k You) vs SCSR. I’m for SCSR. Let FUSR close the course and watch his investment grow weeds.

  • Erin September 25, 2016, 10:48 am

    Does anyone know what they got for overpaying hit the property ?
    They could do the same thing they are going now for the asking price.
    There has to be something extra they received for that $5 million. What is the deal???
    I think we need to find out what that is.

    • Admin September 25, 2016, 10:56 am

      My hunch (and it’s just a hunch) is that the previous owners of SRGC knew the buyers’ history of laying waste to communities in their quest for profit. So they refused to sell at the asking price. As it turned out (again, just a hunch) it took an additional $5 million or so to change their minds, even knowing what they’d do to the course–and to the community.

    • Ron Pugh September 25, 2016, 11:31 am

      The short story is the previous owners refused to sell to Richards and crew after they discovered who they were and how they operated. Then Richards and crew came back with an offer at double the asking price. They sold. Hard to blame them for that. Wish they hadn’t.

      Regardless, they overpaid. The land as a well cared for golf course is worth around $4.1M and zoned as golf course. As a patch of brown weeds, the land is worth far less than $4.1M and zoned as golf course.

      The key is keep it zoned as golf course.

  • Bill Olmo September 25, 2016, 11:58 am

    While $20,000 is a lot of money, it’s only 2% of a million dollar home.

    • Admin September 25, 2016, 2:38 pm

      True…but there are many who would say that sacrificing even $5.00 so a developer could make hundreds of millions of dollars is too much.

  • Admin September 25, 2016, 2:41 pm

    I am posting this at the request of local resident Akash Chodhary:

    Name AKASH CHOUDHARY

    Phone Number
    Make comment public? YES
    Questions or comments? Here are couple of facts that make me Believe that standing firm and strongly opposing any move to rezone and amend the General Plan

    San Ramon is suppose to be considered great place to live in Bay Area and Real estate prices reflect is because of

    A) Excellent school district… Good programs in place, optimal student teacher Ratio
    B) Safety – Safe place to live ,
    C) Good open spaces , trails and parks
    D) Less congestion
    If we start negotiating and cave in to the demands of the bullies it will impact all these factors and automatically drive the prices low

    A) New housing mess up Teacher /Student ratios and spaces in the classes which are already at a tipping point
    B) Any new construction bring also typical element what we all know messes up the crime scene
    C)It’s going to create concrete jungle
    D) Traffic situation will be horrible… You can already see the pressure on Dougherty, Bollinger Alcosta ……
    BEST Thing is to STAY UNITED. Our City leaders are committed to fight and we have to make sure we also support them and stop any intruders

    Based on the history of these Golf course property owners , they will play the dirty game ….

    The plan released earlier was scare tactics so that everyone start talking about it. They involved media to talk about their hard stance as they already talked to new media about this meeting.

    Then they will propose the compromise plan and start convincing people that they have accommodated citizen concerns and we should all agree to the compromise as its win for the people . This is what they did TO Aqua bears pool to kick little kids out few days before the swimming season

    This is like inviting HYENAS for feeding and assuming they will eat only what is offered to them. Anyways we are all clear what we are dealing with. Let stay focus and deal with these Mafia and its sympathizers.

    We teach our kids to fight against bullying and this is prime example of bullying so why should citizen of San Ramon should cave in.

  • Jim September 25, 2016, 2:51 pm

    You will never be able to negotiate with Richards and they have a plan and will stick with it to the end, so don’t fall for that tactic. Once the camel’s nose is under the tent it’s all over. The Richards’ group has time and resources on their side and will use them all, negotiations with them will only be detrimental for any effort to stop their development plans. Does anyone think Richards’ group think will stop a 255 units? No way. Also, be sure to vote wisely in the upcoming SR City Council elections.

  • gayle blair September 25, 2016, 4:25 pm

    PLEASE KEEP US INFORMED

    • Admin September 25, 2016, 4:58 pm

      We’ll continue to do our best. PLEASE subscribe to the blog and to the mailing list. It only takes a few seconds. Encourage friends and neighbors to do the same!

  • Renae Wilber September 25, 2016, 4:43 pm

    Thank you Joe. You could not have written a better synopsis of the golf course controversy. I hope you will stay active in your endeavor to keep the community updated and enlightened.

    I do have one question…to those who fear the golf course going brown with weeds (i.e. open land for the wildlife to roam), it seems the point you made is that it would go brown anyway because of the time involved if it were to be rezoned, (and the City were to sell us out), etc. If I understood this correctly, would that take the whole brown weed issue off the table, because it’s already a given under the circumstances?

    My perception here is that we need to grieve the end of the golf course. The property was not purchased with any intent to keep a golf course. We need to accept that the golf course is going to be a wildlife refuge, and that any building whatsoever is a detriment to our community.

    I do not live on the golf course, however, I do know that this change will affect each and every one of us who enjoy this great community. I long for the days of more open space, not less. The days when there were wild flowers amidst the weeds, creating natural beauty. I also know there are golfers and those who live on the golf course who passionately would rather negotiate away our land to a developer then give up their love of golf or their view of even a sliver of course. I respect that. Our opinions differ.

    For me, negotiation is not a word to be tossed around lightly, or even entertained when there is nothing to negotiate. It is merely a means to give the invaders the thought that we are weak and will bend for the bully. That is my opinion.

    Lastly, because wildlife refuges do not add the value to a home that a golf course does, the homeowners who live on the golf course can apply to have their property reassessed, which should in turn lead to lower tax bills. Now there’s a plus to consider…more money in your pocket. I hear Mexico has some beautiful courses.

    Thanks again Joe.

    • Henry Shaw September 25, 2016, 8:28 pm

      “….because wildlife refuges do not add the value to a home that a golf course does…”

      I disagree. The value of any real property is ultimately determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. We value a house abutting undeveloped open space (that’s brown in summer) *more* than one that has a view of a golf course. We might not be “typical”, or in the majority on this, but we are out there.

      • Renae Wilber September 25, 2016, 9:13 pm

        I very much agree with you Henry. In fact, I LOVE open space and as I don’t play golf, I feel the course is a burden to our water needs. However, in the eyes of the tax assessor, a home on a golf course is assessed higher taxes than one that is not. There are records that reflect that tax assessors will often lesser a homeowner’s tax burden when their home is on the course once it has been closed. But again Henry, my opinion is precisely yours — this is just tax valuation information for people to consider.

        • Admin September 25, 2016, 9:26 pm

          Renae, under Prop. 13, all homes are taxed based on their purchase price. It is possible that the tax base could be reduced in the event of some event that decreased the value–like replacement of open space/golf course with high density housing.

          If the county were to agree to a drop in the assessed value of, say, $20,000, the property tax would be lowered by roughly $250 a year. Not a very big number.

          • Renae Wilber September 25, 2016, 10:15 pm

            Thanks Joe, and yes, that is what I read…that the county could reassess the value based on a golf course closure. Is there evidence that shows the homes on the golf course would only be affected by $20,000 if the golf course were to close/develop? That would be great news if that’s the case, for those who own on the course.

  • Brian September 25, 2016, 5:39 pm

    Narcissists are motivated by greed and are masters of manipulation, IF and only if you allow them to exert such behavior. If you give a narcissist an inch there’s no doubt they will take a mile, and eventually more. It’s unfortunate Richards and Schlesinger have already manipulated some into believing a “negotiation” is the best route to go. Narcissists have no intention to negotiate, they will tell you what you want to hear until they eventually get their way. They are 100% self-serving. Narcissists are primal in their approach to human relations and have no remorse in their pursuit to get their needs met. Richards and Schlesinger could care less about our San Ramon community.

    How does one really negotiate with someone who peppers a previous golf course with chicken manure? That is a childish and manipulative act…tantrum-like behavior. These guys are ruthless, look at their history, and don’t kid yourself otherwise.

    If his solution is to close down a historically profitable golf course and have it turn into brown open space, then awesome! What a wonderful solution! The alternative, which means building housing on the property is a terrible option for San Ramon residents. Why even talk to, let alone “negotiate” with someone who has ZERO leverage other than letting the golf course go. If he goes that route, big deal, and I own a home on the course.

    Read the parable about the boy and the rattlesnake. If you give these guys the opportunity, they will bite you, and keep biting you until they’ve completed their mission. Exercising their proposed “negotiations” is fools gold.

    • Ron Pugh September 25, 2016, 8:21 pm

      Nice post. I agree that if Richards is going to close the course, then let him do so. However, never change the zoning on the property (we’ll have to stay on top of city council members even though it is difficult to change and current members are against changing it).

      To me the best part is still this: Richards and Schlesinger overpaid for the course by $4M since it was originally for sale at $4.1M and they paid $8.1M. If the zoning doesn’t change (which is our greatest weapon), then his $8.1M purchase becomes worth about $2M if he lets it go brown. That’s a 75% loss + nuisance fees. And I for one will be out there on the weekends with a shovel to help a new owner rebuild the course.

  • donald corbin September 25, 2016, 7:09 pm

    i wecome the weeds over him making a dime !!!

  • mike September 25, 2016, 8:07 pm

    Change the amount of the fines to make it less profitable to wait us out.

    • Bill O September 26, 2016, 7:12 am

      GREAT idea!

  • Dwight Pratt September 25, 2016, 8:51 pm

    Well laid out
    I believe comprising and making a 9 hole course and allowing for some houses over a dead 18 hole pile of dirt. It will end up looking just like what use to be the old Christmas tree lot near pine valley. At least having a 9 hole maintained course will keep the home values from dropping.

    • Rebecca September 25, 2016, 10:27 pm

      It may prevent value from dropping among those living on your nine-hole course, but it does nothing for the people who now have high density residences in their backyard. It also does nothing for the rest of us that now have a decrease in school ratings because of overcrowding, and a decrease in home value because of the increased density, traffic and crime. If you only care about your own value along your nine-hole course, and nothing about the rest of the community, as well as the children of your community, how do you differ from the builder who bought the course?

    • Ron Pugh September 26, 2016, 12:03 pm

      When the school ratings start to suffer from overcrowding, you’ll wish those homes had never been built. The drop in property value you will see from overcrowded schools that will be performing at a level less than their peers is far, far, far greater than the drop that may be seen from 128 acres of brown open space covered in weeds, grass and wild flowers.

  • Renae Wilber September 26, 2016, 11:33 am

    Excerpt from Escondido Country Club Newsletter (July 2013)…(SITR being the developer, Michael Schlesinger’s company “Stuck in the Rough, LLC”. He will go to any length to divide us and conquer…so that he can have his way.

    “…Mr. Schlesinger claims that community members and their group ECCHO, the Escondido Country Club and Community Homeowners Organization, blocked meetings between the community and SITR. In reality Mr. Schlesinger actually hired guards to exclude community members and homeowners from meetings regarding the golf course’s fate. In reality, instead of being cooperative Mr. Schlesinger has been using scare tactics and bullying to force the community into submission. Recently he went so far as to tell Council members that if they don’t let him build his houses he will fence the property for ten years until it is completely unsalvageable.”

  • Dan September 27, 2016, 9:45 am

    ?. Of the people that want to form this group to speak with the developer. How many live on the part of the golf course that would possible remain nice and green out their back window and how many would be looking at new housing either out their front or back windows? Also would they be having any of the extra traffic coming into their area?

    • Renae Wilber September 27, 2016, 10:40 am

      With the new downtown, Bollinger will be burdened with traffic. If housing is built in South San Ramon, Alcosta and Broadmoor will be burdened with traffic. Have you ever tried to get a mile into Walnut Creek from Ygnacio? Any building will have an impact on all of us, especially in South San Ramon, not only those who live on the golf course or are looking at views of new housing out their window. All. Of. Us.

  • Chad Johnson September 27, 2016, 10:06 am

    Hello Pebble & Fellow Neighbors,

    As an “out of state” homeowner from Montana, the real estate pricing has exploded vs. majority of the United States. While I appreciate the real estate projections, we are currently in a demand market, given the array of growing companies. We don’t know the home appraisal impacts, if development happens in 8-10 years which is probably their business plan. Accordingly, we shouldn’t indicate (-$20k) estimates.

    For several terms, I was on the economic development advisory committee (EDAC) which we evaluated specific plans for development. As several folks clarified, the owners’ business plan is long term. The key is maintaining this group and consistent message throughout the years and educating new neighbors of the facts. From a planning and legal perspective, the city has a strategy for golf courses to maintain this designation. If the planning and city commissions alter this plan for a partial development by the driving range, the owner has leverage for future development, in a legal setting.

    If anyone has questions about EDAC, etc. I am available to explain the process of the general plan, etc.

    Regards,
    Chad Johnson

    • Renae Wilber September 27, 2016, 10:41 am

      Thank you Chad! Your knowledge and expertise is very much appreciated. Please Stay the Course with us.

      Renae

  • Farrokh Khodadadi September 27, 2016, 3:19 pm

    Neighbors,
    regardless of your proximity to the site, this project will impact us much more severely in ways other than aesthetic change to our landscape, and disruption of leisure activity.
    Everyone within our city limit should stand firm and challenge the rezoning application, not just the homes around the course.

    I sincerely discourage anyone from negotiations.
    Do NOT step forward to ‘negotiate’ with the developer, Do NOT form a small group of residents to speak on behalf of the community. Unless there are several seasoned attorneys in the neighborhood who would like to tackle this, it would be foolish for anyone to step forward at this juncture.
    Scott Holder was a great police sergeant who served SR well, but he is not in position of serving legal advice, nor can he promise anything, so thanks, but no meeting to negotiate.
    This is a game developers skilfully play to win, and for any of us to step into their ring, is like taking a knife to a gun fight.
    I’ve been involved in group negotiations both in public and corporate settings and know for a fact, that a small group of people from the community will have a completely different dynamic than when they’re in presence of their peers in the larger group. People in handfuls will say things they would not when they’re in tens or hundreds. The old saying,
    “divide & conquer” is relevant to this situation.
    Our strength is in numbers.

    Additionally, your views are only recorded when voiced through the formal channels, public forums through the City’s planning commission and the city council.
    So if y’all are putting together a ‘GROUP’, make sure that group is present at all relevant meetings and familiarize yourself with city’s website, their calendar, agenda announcements, minutes because you must become a part of that process to be counted.

    From past experience, I know the process can stretch from months to years if the city backs community’s interests, and the only way you’ll know that again, is through the public forums.
    Any side-bar discussion/meeting to negotiate with developer will give him an edge we need not make this any easier on him.
    Instead, we should force their hand and insist on Env.Impct. studies to illustrate how this project will negatively affect San Ramon.
    My own lamen traffic impact study estimates at least 3,000 extra cars, if only 2 trips daily would add 6000 more trips to current traffic load.
    Local schools will (as stated so I won’t go into it) also be impacted.

    Sincerely,
    -Faroak-

    • Brian September 27, 2016, 3:39 pm

      Very well said and couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the builder has manipulated some into thinking a “meeting” with him is beneficial. Nothing good will come from such a meeting. The builder is a master manipulator and forming a “group” to meet with him without proper legal counsel is not responsible. Scott Holder is not a lawyer and has no previous skill in this type of matter. San Ramon citizens don’t have to offer the builder anything. I welcome the brown space and I live on the course.

      • Admin September 27, 2016, 4:19 pm

        Brian, I’d like to make just a tiny correction to your excellent comment: the new owners of the San Ramon Golf Club are NOT builders; they are developers. They have never created a single square foot of housing that I am aware of. A developer acquires land (like a golf course), gets it rezoned to provide for building, then process the subdivision through the state. It is primarily a paper, administrative and political process. Once the developer has gotten a subdivision (called the Final Map) approved, he can sell the map at a huge profit to someone who will actually build on it. It is a highly speculative process–especially where he is hoping to get the property drastically rezoned and the General Plan amended to allow for homes on the 128 acre site. The profits are potentially enormous–easily into hundreds of millions of dollars–but it is important to realize also that this developer/speculator has never completed a project in the four or five years he has been acquiring golf courses. He did manage to sell a portion of the Escondido property, but I believe that is the closest he has ever come to “success.”

        • Brian September 27, 2016, 4:45 pm

          Yes! Absolutely, my apologies, developers not builders. Thank you!

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