SCGA Public Affairs


Monday, March 28, 2022

Because those of you who subscribe to these “Updates” follow the news closely, you likely know that earlier today Governor Newsom issued a multi-pronged Executive Order calling upon the state’s urban water providers to activate 2nd level (20%) drought contingency plans, consider bans on the irrigation of all “ornamental” turf, and limit permits for groundwater extraction in certain basins.

Everything is voluntary – so far. Few expect that to last the duration of the coming dry season. Many expect that the Southern California golf community is going to be soon facing much of what we faced in 2014-2016, albeit much of the good work we did previous to and during that drought should again pay dividends for us. In other words, we’ll manage.

Excerpted verbatim below from the Governor’s Executive Order is the language of most interest to the Southern California community. Please note that golf courses are part of the generic category of “Large Landscapes” that includes parks, sports fields, school fields and cemeteries – all of which are exempt from the Governor’s suggested ban on the irrigation of “ornamental” turf.

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"A requirement that each urban water supplier that has submitted a water shortage contingency plan to the Department of Water Resources implement, at a minimum, the shortage response actions adopted under section 10632 of the Water Code for a shortage level of up to twenty percent (Level 2), by a date to be set by the Water Board."

To promote water conservation, the Department of Water Resources shall consult with leaders in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors to develop strategies for improving water conservation, including direct technical assistance, financial assistance, and other approaches. By May 25, 2022, the Water Board shall consider adopting emergency regulations defining "non-functional turf" (that is, a definition of turf that is ornamental and not otherwise used for human recreation purposes such as school fields, sports fields, and parks) and banning irrigation of non-functional turf in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors except as it may be required to ensure the health of trees and other perennial non-turf plantings.”

"To protect health, safety, and the environment during this drought emergency, a county, city, or other public agency shall not:

  1. Approve a permit for a new groundwater well or for alteration of an existing well in a basin subject to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and classified as medium-or high-priority without first obtaining written verification from a Groundwater Sustainability Agency managing the basin or area of the basin where the well is proposed to be located that groundwater extraction by the proposed well would not be inconsistent with any sustainable groundwater management program established in any applicable Groundwater Sustainability Plan adopted by that Groundwater Sustainability Agency and would not decrease the likelihood of achieving a sustainability goal for the basin covered by such a plan; or
  2. Issue a permit for a new groundwater well or for alteration of an existing well without first determining that extraction of groundwater from the proposed well is (1) not likely to interfere with the production and functioning of existing nearby wells, and (2) not likely to cause subsidence that would adversely impact or damage nearby infrastructure."

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No “Update” would be complete without some information about where AB 1910 stands in the legislative process.

As expected it passed through the Assembly Housing & Community Development Committee last week on a 6-2 vote, albeit it passed this time with much less derogatory comment about the game from author Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), much more defensiveness on the part of those voting to move it out of committee, and overwhelmingly more written opposition than support, including opposition letters from the USGA, NGF, GCSAA, NGCOA, and myriad other local, state and national golf organizations. For those interested in what the SCGA filed, click here to read it.

AB 1910 moves next to the Local Government Committee, where it came within a whisker of failing to get out of committee in January and where the golf community has some cause for optimism that if we keep pressing our best arguments and continue to pick up support from non-golf groups like the Trust for Public Land, which filed an oppose unless amended letter, it may fail this time around. Local Government will likely hear the bill either April 20 or April 27. If it should escape that committee, it again goes to the Appropriations Committee, where it died as AB 672 in January.

We’ll be sharing much more with you soon. Suffice it to say that the SCGA and California Alliance for Golf in particular are planning to add considerable heft to their Local Government Committee letters – additional statistical information about the state of the game plus considerably more about Housing Committee Staff’s blanket assertion that all aspects of the Surplus Land Act (SLA) apply to AB 1910, an application that would seem to create a set of insurmountable conflicts in law to be sure, but also in fact to the degree to which the SLA establishes the primacy of park/open space redevelopment over residential and commercial development.

If you’ll recall from your school days that big chart entitled, “how a bill becomes a law,” you’ll recognize that AB 1910 has a long way to go before it becomes law. It failed in its first two at-bats. It is in the very early stages of its 3rd and final at-bat. However, the proponents of AB 1910 are a determined bunch. If golf fails to match their determination, succumbs to fatigue, or becomes complacent it is hardly guaranteed to prevail.

SCGA’s “Save Public Golf” campaign spent recent weeks focused on securing that large number of organizational opposition. We were pleased with how the Association’s clubs in particular responded. We were similarly pleased that the USGA and a few other national organizations that have not in the past dipped their toes into state legislative affairs found the anti-AB 1910 cause sufficiently important to dive in head-first.

Look for the Association’s “campaign” and the campaign of our growing list of allied organizations to again focus on a more generalized campaign – one that encourages golfers to perform a few clicks on the SCGA website to let their legislators know what they think of AB 1910’s effort to single out golf and only golf for excommunication from the greater park/recreation/green space community of which it has been an integral part for more than 100 years in California.

Stay the course!

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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It isn’t often that one bill can highlight all that separates one side of California’s great water divide from the other – from those interests fixated on conservation as the focus of future supply and those intent on pursuing a more diversified portfolio – from those who are often accused of believing that California can conserve its way out of its aridification predicament and those who are convinced that if conservation is the only tool in the state’s water resiliency toolbox, California is doomed to be hollowed out in much the same way rust belt cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit were in the last quarter of the 20th Century.

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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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