Southern California Golf Association Weighs in On Possible Eaton Canyon Golf Course Closure

Published : Monday, May 14, 2018 | 4:39 AM

Dear Editor:

The May 11 story about Mayor Tornek’s desire to see Los Angeles County’s Eaton Canyon Golf Course transformed into a “public park” under the jurisdiction of the City of Pasadena has received wide exposure in the golf world — not because we were caught unaware of the discussions between the City of Pasadena and the County of Los Angeles, but rather because we have been aware for some time. “Aware” in terms of what has been discussed publicly and “aware” in terms of the costs associated with repurposing golf courses for other uses. Indeed, the costs for simply removing turf from golf courses generally exceed $1 million for regulation 18-hole golf courses, and turf removal is a considerably less intrusive and expensive process than a total refurbishment cum repurposing. “Aware” also in terms of knowing that the City of Pasadena does not appear to have performed the due diligence necessary to determine those costs in advance of acquiring the property.

No one seems to know what the City of Pasadena actually has in mind. We’re not entirely sure if the city has anything more in mind than perhaps seeing an opportunity to acquire a large chunk of public land for a small fraction of what a similar parcel would cost on the open market. “Public park is a vague term; it can mean almost anything.

We do think the city understands that the 1971 California Parkland Protection Act precludes Pasadena from doing anything else with the Eaton Canyon property than using it for general public access park purposes under the definition of the Act. And if it doesn’t, we’re confident that the County of Los Angeles will underscore that point in their ongoing discussions.

The fact that local golfers want to keep their golf course a golf course is a given. The facts about costs, not just costs re conversion but the comparison between the actual costs of an “underperforming” golf course and the costs of a park that is all cost with no revenue offset, are facts that all Pasadena residents should understand when drawing conclusions about the wisdom of any transfer cum repurposing.

A number of local governments have performed cost comparisons among various recreation functions; golf always finishes first in terms of pure economics. That in no way means that golf is superior to the rest, just that it ought to be one of many considerations in making land use determinations, particularly when the subject of the decision is whether to close a municipal golf property that has served a community for generations.

Respectfully Submitted,

CRAIG KESSLER l Director, Governmental Affairs

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