SCGA Governmental Affairs

LA COUNTY COVID ADDENDUM and AB 672

Monday, March 22, 2021

LA COUNTY – COVID ADDENDUM


Knowing how many were waiting with bated breath for Los Angeles County’s updated “Golf Appendix,” we rushed it out late Thursday afternoon literally minutes after its release along with a summary of the key changes it envisaged for the play and practice of golf in the state’s largest county.

That document, which you can again access by clicking here, links to three (3) other documents that have since Thursday afternoon also been updated – the county’s general “Safer at Home” Tier order, the county’s “Youth/Adult Sports Leagues” order, and the county’s “Re-opening Restaurants” order, all of which apply to golf club/course functions that are not exclusive to golf courses but parts and parcels of nonetheless.

Today we share those three (3) documents for those who want to update their files and/or those who are policy wonks like us:

  • Click here for updated “Safer at Home” order.
  • Click here for updated “Youth/Adult Sports Leagues” order.
  • Click here for updated “Re-opening Restaurants” order.


GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS HUB COMING TO SCGA WEBSITE


SCGA has been working to create a substantial Governmental Affairs hub on scga.org. We hope to go live with it late this week, but as with all things technological if not this week, certainly not long thereafter. When it does go live you will be able to access these kinds of documents as well as a treasure trove of other documents, reports, and analyses regarding the intersection of golf and public policy quickly, seamlessly, and effortlessly. A way of ordering the disparate subjects covered in these Updates as it were.


AB 672 – SHOT ACROSS GOLF’S BOW


AB 672 (Garcia; D-Bell Gardens) is no longer a mere spot bill that envisages the changes in the Surplus Land and Public Park Preservation Acts that would allow municipal parkland golf courses to be repurposed as affordable housing tracts. It was amended late last week (published 11:30 PM Thursday night) as planning and zoning reauthorization law regarding golf courses. From the Legislative Counsel’s description of what its passage would mean:

  • Existing law, the Planning and Zoning Law, requires that the legislative body of each county and each city adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of the county and city, and specified land outside its boundaries, that includes, among other mandatory elements, a housing element. Existing law authorizes the legislative body of any county or city, pursuant to specified procedures, to adopt ordinances that, among other things, regulate the use of buildings, structures, and land as between industry, business, residences, open space, and other purposes. Existing law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), requires a lead agency, as defined, to prepare, or cause to be prepared, and certify the completion of, an environmental impact report on a project that it proposes to carry out or approve that may have a significant effect on the environment or to adopt a negative declaration if it finds that the project will not have that effect. That law also requires a lead agency to prepare a mitigated negative declaration for a project that may have a significant effect on the environment if revisions in the project would avoid or mitigate that effect and there is no substantial evidence that the project, as revised, would have a significant effect on the environment. This bill would authorize, on and after January 1, 2022, a city, county, or city and county to rezone sites used as a golf course to also allow for residential and open space use in accordance with specified requirements. The bill would exempt any ordinance, resolution, general or specific plan amendment, or other action necessary of the city, county, or city and county to rezone a site pursuant to the bill’s provisions from CEQA. The bill would remove, with respect to a city, county, or city and county, this rezoning authorization on the date the 6th regional housing needs assessment cycle applicable to the city, county, or city and county ends. The bill would require a development on a site that is rezoned for residential and open space use pursuant to the bill’s provisions to comply with specified requirements, including that a certain percentage of units developed on the site be available for persons and families of low income for a period of no less than 55 years, that a certain unit per acre density be met, and that a skilled and trained workforce is used to complete the development.

The California Alliance for Golf’s (CAG) Legislative Committee met Friday morning to discuss the implications of the meat now added to the bones of the original spot bill. And there are many, not the least of which are the ways in which it would appear that the author has restructured this attack on the state’s golf stock to obviate the need to amend the California Constitution’s ARTICLE XIII, Section 10 protections of the state’s private golf clubs or the Public Park Preservation Act’s protections of the state’s municipal golf courses.

Amending the Constitution requires a vote of the people. Compromising the Public Park Preservation Act runs the risk of inviting strong opposition from some of the state’s large municipal governments and environmental organizations. That leaves the daily fee market, which long ago all but disappeared from California’s large cities for the same economic reasons that this bill would seem to re-create well beyond the state’s urban cores. It may well jeopardize the non-equity club market as well, depending on how such clubs are structured and precisely how the specifics of a successful rezoning effort might be construed.

CAG and its constituent organizations are busy trying to analyze these “implications,” at least to the extent to which this particular parcel of uncharted territory is amenable to any degree of reliable analysis. One thing is clear, however. Assemblymember Garcia is intent on establishing some sort of beachhead in California law that would allow for the conversion of golf properties to housing. Just golf courses – not parks, land conservancies, sports fields, or any of the many other green spaces, both public and private, that might provide as much and in the case of land conservancies, considerably more acreage capable of hosting housing stock.

Expect to read and hear much more about AB 672 as 2021 unfolds. It promises to be a constantly moving target, and the “target” is golf.


DROUGHT AGAIN ON OUR HORIZON


The escape from COVID may not be a steady one. With variant strains of the virus proliferating and a still low percentage of the population vaccinated, there could be one more surge in the pandemic curve before life returns to some semblance of normal. However, even the most pessimistic of epidemiologists don’t predict anything resembling the December/January surge. Even then, as we correctly predicted in early December, when the state descended into the hyper-restrictions of the “Regional Stay at Home” order, golf remained open throughout.

Now, we can focus on the myriad other problems that beset the game, whether this new assault from AB 672 or golf’s constant foe – drought and the access/cost issues associated therewith.

Saturday was the 1st day of spring. We are 10 days away from the April 1 date that pretty much represents the end of the snow/rain season. From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over the weekend: “Drier conditions in the Southwest U.S. associated with La Niña and the failed 2020 summer monsoon have been contributing factors to the development and intensification of what represents the most significant U.S. spring drought since 2013.” Dry weather is expected to linger into the spring, with below average precipitation forecast across much of the West.

According to the NAOO, one of the contributing factors to the western drought has been lack of snowfall. The greatest area of snow drought expansion has been in the Sierra Nevada where no large storms have occurred since the strong atmospheric river in late January. This has left almost all of the Sierra Nevada weather stations below the 30th percentile of snow water equivalent and a few locations in the southern Sierra are below the 10th percentile.

Southern California imports the water it depends upon to sustain virtually everything from two main sources: The Sierra snowpack and the Colorado River. Recent record snowstorms in the Colorado Basin have provided some relief to that source but have not by any means moved the region out of a condition of drought. California’s reservoirs are still pretty full from previous years; however, they are going to be drawn down this summer and fall. Connect the dots. Unless the 2021-2022 rain/snow season is a good one, we are going to be looking down the barrel of the access and cost issues associated with drought just as we begin viewing the detritus of COVID-19 in our rear-view mirrors.

Archived Updates

CGCOA Golf is Good Ambassador Program

Are you interested in becoming an advocate for golf in California? The CGCOA is seeking amateur golfers who are passionate about protecting the game of golf and promoting public policies that enable golf to flourish in California. Take the next step to becoming an advocate for golf by completing the attached Golf is Good Ambassador Application.

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FORE - Governmental Affairs

FORE - The magazine of the SCGA. Find archived Governmental Affairs articles on the website of the SCGA's award winning quarterly publication.

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HOT BILLS

AB 672 (Garcia; D-Bell Gardens) – the “hottest” to hit the golf industry in the last 20 years in our opinion!

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COVID UPDATES

On Friday the state changed its reopening blueprint effective April 15 to permit indoor live events. Sporting events, concerts, and theatrical performances off limits for the last year will again be parts of our lives.

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LA COUNTY COVID ADDENDUM and AB 672

The LA County Department of Public Health amended its “Safer at Home” Tier order, the county’s “Youth/Adult Sports Leagues” order, and the county’s “Re-opening Restaurants” order, all of which apply to golf club/course functions that are not exclusive to golf courses.

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EUREKA

Los Angeles County Public Health (DPH) has updated its “Golf Appendix” to align the play and practice of golf with the rhythms of life in the “Red Tier”

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MEMO TO LA COUNTY GOLFERS, GOLF CLUBS AND HIGH SCHOOLS (Exceptions:  Long Beach & Pasadena)

So, if you’re flummoxed by the disconnect between the ability to dine, shop, or even use a gym indoors at your golf club/course and the inability to putt, chip, play in consecutive tee times, or host high school golf matches – you are not alone.

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AB 672 – Alert!

“It is the intent of the Legislature to enact subsequent legislation that would enable the use of underutilized golf courses for open space and affordable housing.”

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COVID & WATER: GOLF’S TWO FAVORITE SUBJECTS

As we reported Monday, the State of California issued a massive overhaul of “Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Adult Recreational Sports” protocols last Friday, effective this Friday (2/26). We noted that with respect to golf in even the “Purple Tier” counties, much of what has been proscribed can now be permitted, particularly with respect to high school competitive golf and certain adult competitive activities.

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California Public Resources Code - Public Park Preservation Act

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