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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

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Ruth Rydbeck October 21, 2016, 6:33 pm

    Well-said, Joe…..and thank you, so very much, for your “watchful eye” and for your dedicated community service in the support of this issue.

  • Ron Pugh October 21, 2016, 6:47 pm

    Joe, thanks again for the update. Very good information. However, I do want to present one alternate interpretation to this last statement:

    “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.”

    The effects of building homes can have an effect (even directly) on all of us in San Ramon. That’s 70,000+ people based upon the 2010 census. I know I have beat this drum before in your comments section, but I feel strongly that I need to beat this drum again. Building homes on the course will affect our schools, transportation/congestion on the roads, city services, police services, etc… For those who don’t live directly on the course (I’m in that group), our property values can also be damaged with a poorly performing school system. Our quality of life (hard to put a $ on it) can be affected. In addition, do we want to be the city that allows these guys to make even more money so that they go along and do the exact same thing to another city?

    I for one don’t want to see a single home built on the course. I’m firmly in the “let it turn brown camp” if the developer chooses to close the course. They overpaid by ~$4M (they paid ~$8.xM) for land zoned as golf course with a course in good/great condition. If they let it turn brown and go into disrepair, then the land zoned as golf course becomes worth less than $4M (perhaps as low as $1.25M to 1.5M if still zoned as golf course). Finally, we should keep in mind that the course can always be rebuilt in the future, but it is hard to rebuild the course if homes stand where the holes used to be.

    • Admin October 22, 2016, 8:13 am

      I couldn’t agree more! I was just trying in somewhat-subtle way to increase the number of subscribers to the blog. You know, baby steps.

      Blogs have a tendency to reach a sort of “critical mass,” where there are enough subscribers to cause it to grow virally. I think we’ll reach that level at some point (there have been days when we’re close to 1,000 page views). My real point was that the people who should be MOST alarmed by the golf course situation (those closest to the course) should DEFINITELY be subscribers.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      • Colleen Henry October 22, 2016, 8:19 pm

        Let me know it go brown..& I live ON the course!

    • Steve Cohen October 22, 2016, 11:14 am

      Ron,

      I am in the group who do not live on the golf course. Like you I am simply a resident of San Ramon and agree with your sentiment entirely. Although I enjoy playing golf I am with you in the let it go brown group. Eventually the land owners will have to show their investors some movement one way or another and standing firm seems our best course.

  • Cynthia Doell October 21, 2016, 8:23 pm

    I am a member of this community since 1976 and have seen changes that are mind blowing. Our golf course has been a thing of beauty for many years and enjoyed by residents both golfers and non golfers. I have attended many events at the club house and really enjoyed myself. I think the community needs to hold true to the course and not give in to these bullies. I think the steering committee is a fine idea and help with it we all should make a point to vote. We do not need added congestion to our local streets and added pressure to our already over impacted schools. Please all residents sign up for updates and make your voice heard.

  • Evelyn Klopfer October 22, 2016, 8:23 pm

    Hi to all!

    I am not a resident of San Ramon, but of Dublin (just off Stagecoach near Alcosta) and drive past the golf course all the time. I had no idea about it’s sale let alone the developer’s intentions. I echo all the sentiments previously posted whole-heartedly and know my husband will feel the same when I tell him.

    Although we don’t golf, we sure do enjoy the beauty of it whether driving past it or biking past on Iron Horse Trail.

    Moving to Dublin some 20 years ago, we were attracted by the surrounding lush pastures and open space. However, as everyone knows, Dublin City Council has done a real hack job on the town turning it into a concrete city. 🙁 We miss the beautiful views of the surrounding hillsides. The only solace my husband and I have felt was in having the golf course near and the open hillside behind Stagecoach. Yet, if the golf course goes, then how soon after will the open space behind the SR Senior Center and Stagecoach disappear?

    I apologize for my lengthy rant, but there needs to be a stop to overly developing the Tri-Valley and putting us at risk of even more global warming by stripping away natural vegetation.

    I sure am glad this topic was mentioned on Next-door and thank you for the blog. I will be reading it and will spread the word. Afterall, what are neighbors for??

  • Geoff October 23, 2016, 12:22 am

    From the danvillesanramon.com article about the city council candidate forum:
    “Candidates faced questions on several city-specific issues, including the proposals to annex Norris Canyon Estates and build houses on a portion of land at San Ramon Golf Course Club

    Asked for their positions on rezoning the golf course to residential, which would allow the owner to have houses built on part of it, challengers Nayak and Zafar said they are against rezoning.

    “I would definitely like to see that as open space for our residents, whether it’s a golf course or could be turned into a park,” said Nayak, an engineer who has lived in San Ramon for over a decade. “We should not encourage developers to take that beautiful piece of land.”

    The incumbents, meanwhile exercised caution in answering the question since they are seated council members. O’Loane said he could be barred from future voting on the matter if he made a judgment before the public hearing process.

    That being said, O’Loane told the audience he likes the zoning the way it is but that this would be a two- to three-year process.

    Perkins added that he was on the City Council when it voted for the property’s land use designation as a golf course and that he did and still believes that is its correct zoning.”

  • Patricia Nevares October 23, 2016, 10:42 am

    I’ve spoken to San Ramon residents who are unaware of how/where to get information about the golf course land grab. One way of helping to grow awareness is to purchase the “stay the course” signs and banners to display in your front yards. If some who is looking or hasn’t heard about what’s going on, they could google the Stay The Course and find this site. I was speaking with a friend in another area of San Ramon and she was in complete agreement of non negotiation. I ordered two signs to give her one and spread the message.
    Just a thought!

  • Corey October 26, 2016, 9:10 am

    One concern about setting up a community “council” is that you run the real risk of a small group trying to speak for many — this opens the door to influence by the developer and perhaps a chance to control the message, no matter how people feel about whether to go brown or not. We have a standing Planning Commission — a public, accountable body — where we should spend more of our time influencing.

  • Jim October 27, 2016, 3:59 pm

    Just drove by the course east of Thunderbird on Pine Valley. 8′ chain link fence has been installed restricting access to the course on the south side of PV, believe that is the green area on the 13th hole. Let the games begin.

    • Geoff October 27, 2016, 4:40 pm

      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.

      Additional info here:
      http://staythecoursesanramon.com/index.p

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