The following was sent to City Clerk Margaret Wimberly for inclusion in the City Council meeting on July 11, 2017:
To the Mayor of Brentwood, City Council Members, and Members of the Planning Commission,
RE: Rezoning of the Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes Golf Courses
My name is Peggy Bridges and my husband and I have lived in Brentwood since 1998. Our family purchased our home in Deer Ridge in 2009. I am writing to you today since I am unable to attend the scheduled meeting, but hope that you will take my letter into consideration as well as all the public comments when considering this proposal.
I am opposed to the golf course owner’s proposal to build high density senior housing in the proposed areas and eliminating half of the golf course land to make the owners profitable. It was explained to me that the owners of the two golf courses are 11 million dollars in financial debt since the number of people playing golf have recently declined and the cost of water is high. The following is a list of reasons explaining why supporting rezoning the golf coarse land does not make sense:
Financial records of the owners of the golf coarse property have not been disclosed and there is no proof that they are in financial debt or cannot make a profit operating the golf courses. Without this financial information disclosed, and having an independent auditor verify the data, it would be foolish to entertain making large changes to the community.
The owner’s proposal to save half of the golf courses, by changing the zoning laws and allowing high density residential units, is more than a request for help from the community. It is a business model for these owners. The owners own golf courses in other cities and have prior history of doing this same type of proposal with another golf course property. It would be prudent for the City of Brentwood to take this into consideration and investigate the outcome of this activity. We all need to realize that our planning/zoning rules today will have a permanent impact on our community in the future. Once the golf coarse land is replaced by structures it will never be reverted back to open space or golf course land.
The proposed project has now proposed building more living units than the managers described they needed in our recent meetings, to break even while operating the golf coarse. In trying to gain our trust, they significantly downplayed what their ambitions were. At the meeting/presentation we attended I asked specifically how many units they were planning on building and was told 200-400 units. Their recurring income plan pays per unit. So I pressed them further and asked what their break even number was, because that is a big difference in income flow from 200 units to 400 units. The owner’s representative stated he did not know how many units would be needed, which is very surprising since the purpose of the land zoning change would be to make their business profitable and allow them to get out of the 11 million dollar dept. With the current written proposal, we are broad sided with their request of adding 560 units between the two proposed sites. Acreage and number of resident units are much larger than the existing Westmont Living and Cortona Park facilities The owner’s plan in asking our permission, was to save a portion of the golf courses, not use the destruction of our planned neighborhood to turn them a huge profit.
In 2010-2011 the owners of the golf courses submitted an application in to the city to build a commercial building near the Shadow Lakes driving range and rezone the area on Mountain View to build some single family homes as well as a bridge over Balfour. Their reasoning…. to improve cash flow for the golf courses. Their application was approved but they never acted on it. ( I was present at this Planning Commission meeting). When I asked the owners Rep about this, he knew nothing about it, and immediately changed the subject. If they had gone through with their plans, I can only assume their debt numbers would look much different today.
They stated there were no buyers or other alternatives to make a profit operating the golf courses, but since then there have been posts on social media refuting that claim. It appears that people have tried to rent the property and run the golf courses for them so that they do not operate at a financial loss each year. Members of city council should follow up and speak to these individuals as part of their best practice for making an informed decision on this request. One thing the city could do to help the golf courses stay in business would be to provide them reclaimed water from the sewage treatment plant. Not only would this help save the golf course a cost of water, but would also help them reduce their fertilizer nitrate cost because the reclaimed water has some of these nutrients. By blending the reclaimed and agriculture water supplies they could reduce maintenance costs.
An approval of their plan will increase emergency calls significantly in west Brentwood. Our emergency services which are already stretched thin due to calls between Cortona, Westmont, and John Muir Urgent Care are averaging 1.8 calls per day, seven days a week, 365 days per year for the last 3 years. (Data provided by the City of Brentwood, Planning Commission Office). It does not seem wise to add more residents in west Brentwood before planning to upgrading roads, and fire/emergency services.
Their plan will cause care costs for the elderly living in the proposed units to be higher than other facilities due to the additional golf course fee. There is no way that the owners of the care facilities are going to carry the additional cost per unit that they will be paying to the Golf Course owners. They will be passing this on to their residents. Typically costs run $3,000-$5,000/month for the resident, based on the services required. Now an additional amount will be tacked on to cover this additional expense.
Not only are the golf course owners looking for us to bail them out, they are asking us to do this with out any guarantees of reciprocity that they are committed to this plan. At a minimum, I would want an agreement attached to any rezone approval that requires them to spend a large percentage of that income on the golf courses, closed fairways and surrounding areas with any plan having the most minimal impact on our surrounding area. ( 560 units, three story facilities have no place in this single family residence neighborhood).
An amazing amount of money has been spent by the owners to push this through including the mailers to announce the meetings, the large number of meetings with homeowners, including food; the very fancy, over the top mailer with there plan printed up, their consulting fees, drawing up of the plan fees, city applications, environmental impact study fees, etc. These golf courses have been in disrepair, weeds have been rampant and not attended to, fountains have been turned off, and even a golf course closed and left to go to seed to make a point. But there has been plenty of money, probably several $100,000’s to push this recurring plan of their’s through. Allowing them to move forward will set a precedence. There will be no stopping the additional moves to fully fill in our open space in a pursuit of profit. Please say NO to this proposal.