SCGA Public Affairs


Thursday, September 15, 2022

All that remains of the 2022 legislative session is to see which bills Governor Newsom signs and which he vetoes.

With respect to AB 2146 (ban on neonicotinoids in uses other agriculture), we are informed that there is some chance that the Governor will veto it, despite how easily it passed both houses of the legislature. Golf sought the same exemption as agriculture in deference to the theory upon which the agricultural exemption was based – the use of licensed applicators. Despite its exemption, agriculture vigorously opposed the bill, seeing it as a stalking horse to lifting the exemption in a future session.

A bill that sailed through the Senate and we expected to sail through the Assembly despite opposition from Central Valley lawmakers (AB 2201 – Bennett; D-Ventura) was pulled from the Assembly floor before a vote could be taken. The reason: An anticipated gubernatorial veto. The bill would have required local groundwater management agencies to weigh in on whether a new, enlarged or reactivated well would harm the local aquifer before a local government could grant a permit. The applicant also would have to submit a study by an engineer or geologist confirming that the well would be unlikely to interfere with nearby wells. Although the bill was aimed at severely depleted basins in the Central Valley and Central Coast, the fact that its terms would have applied in some measure to all groundwater basins is what caught the golf community’s attention. It could have meant another layer of time-consuming and expensive administrative approval on top of the approvals already called for in both adjudicated basins and those now under the jurisdiction of groundwater sustainability agencies. We should anticipate that Assemblymember Bennett will cure whatever defect Governor Newsom discerned in his legislation and give it another try in 2023.

Before we sign off on the 2022 session, one more comment about AB 1910. Golf surprised the supporters of the bill by undertaking some bold moves that the proponents of AB 1910 could not have anticipated because they were “moves” the golf community had never before taken. The proponents overplayed their hand as a result, and in our opinion made some mistakes. And as with all successful campaigns, luck favored golf in ways that it behooves us not to share publicly. But persons are only “surprised” once. “Moves” never before taken once taken no longer fit the definition. If we understand the proponents’ “mistakes,” it’s almost certain that they do too. Luck can go either way – good or bad.

We have no idea whether the proponents of AB 1910 have any plans to go down that road again in 2023 now that author Cristina Garcia is leaving the legislature at the end of the year. But the issue that animated the bill – affordable housing – and the land use dynamic that caused the proponents to aim directly at golf – a combination of perceived political weakness, bad public image, and encumbrance of large tracts of contiguous land – didn’t go away just because AB 1910 did. Prudence dictates vigilance. We should be as forewarned as we are forearmed. This was the “warning.” Let’s see if the California Alliance for Golf (CAG) is up to the “arming.”

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We weren’t surprised by the large volume of positive coverage that last month’s Southern California Golf & Water Summit received in golf-centric media, the latest one being a large Harvey Silverman offering in NGCOA’s “Golf Business” magazine. We expected that. What we didn’t expect were the stories that were not about the summit but were clearly inspired by it, one of them a prominent story in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times about the great work UC Riverside has done in developing drought tolerant grasses and another in the Palm Springs Desert Sun and Golfweek about the game’s conservation achievements. We hoped for such, but we didn’t expect it. Good things happen for golf when the game is able to communicate its messages beyond the cozy confines of the golf community – particularly when the messages are calculated to convince policymakers and the game’s regulators that the game is committed to water conservation not as a “do-good” proposition, but a survival proposition. That’s a message golf can’t communicate often enough. As important as it is to communicate it to regulators and policymakers, it’s even more important to communicate it to the public. And then live what we communicate!

Archived Updates

Opposition to Assembly Bill 1910

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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 - Public Affairs

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

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Charles Dickens’ famous opening of “A Tale of Two Cities” comes to mind as a good descriptor of where California’s water situation and golf’s place in it stands after back-to-back record precipitation years: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...".

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Four Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion yesterday that seeks to crack down on what the motion describes as “black-market tee time brokers” who book and resell city golf course tee times for profit.

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When introduced by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) February 16, AB 3192 contained a provision that would have banned the use of all nonorganic pesticides and fertilizers on golf resorts in California’s Coastal Zone.

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A cautionary tale from semi-rural Santa Barbara County to remind you that the pressure to repurpose golf courses is not just a phenomenon in California’s densely packed urban cores.

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The National Golf Course Owners Association’s (NGCOA) Harvey Silverman may have characterized the City of Los Angeles’ uncommonly quick reaction to intense media scrutiny (five separate Los Angeles Times stories including a Sunday lead editorial) of the depredations of tee time brokering with his quip in the organization’s “Golf Business Weekly” about the city having reacted “faster than fixing potholes.”

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Every year there seems to be one bill filed in one house of the California Legislature that keeps the California golf community up at night.

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Here's the difference this last week made, and it’s a difference not just in terms of the alacrity with which we can expect the major municipal golf systems to begin implementing mitigations, but also in terms of what the week means in terms of disabusing all notions of golf somehow being underutilized and golfers not as passionate about the object of their affection as others are about theirs.

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