Public Hearing – November 17, 2015

Save Rancho del Pueblo Golf Course

Petición ciudad de San José para mantener Rancho del Pueblo Campo de golf

Đề nghị thành phố San Jose giữ và không bán đất để xây thêm nhà ở sân golf Rancho del Pueblo

Dear Neighbors:

The San Jose City Council will have a hearing to decide the future of Rancho del Pueblo golf course. The City Auditor made three recommendations in the comprehensive audit report:

  • Keep the three golf courses as they operate today;
  • Sell some of the land; and
  • Reconfigure one or more of the golf courses to other uses.

Rancho is unfortunately the easiest to sell among the three city-owned golf courses if there is no public opposition. We have to act and come out strongly to oppose it like we did last time!

Here is how:

  1. Attend the public hearing
    When:
    November 17, 2015 at 7:00PM
    Where: City Hall Council Chambers (200 East Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA)
    _________
  2. Sign the online petition at District 5 United:
    http://www.district5united.org/online-petition-regarding-rancho-del-pueblo-golf-course/
    _________
  3. Email/call all city council members and mayor. Their votes are important and they need to hear from you on this issue. Otherwise, they assume you agree that selling Rancho del Pueblo for more houses is an option.
    _________
  4. Share this with more people to raise awareness

Mayor Sam Liccardo

535-4800

mayoremail@sanjoseca.gov

Charles Jones

535-4901

District1@sanjoseca.gov

Ash Kalra

535-4902

District2@sanjoseca.gov

Raul Peralez

535-4903

District3@sanjoseca.gov

Manh Nguyen

535-4904

District4@sanjoseca.gov

Magdalena Carrasco

535-4905

District5@sanjoseca.gov

Pierluigi Oliverio

535-4906

pierluigi.oliverio@sanjoseca.gov

Tam Nguyen

535-4907

District7@sanjoseca.gov

Rose Herrera

535-4908

rose.herrera@sanjoseca.gov

Donald Rocha

535-4909

District9@sanjoseca.gov

Johnny Khamis

535-4910

District10@sanjoseca.gov

We recommend keeping the golf courses as they are now and find ways to cut costs and increase revenues so that the combined 3 golf courses can break even on operating costs. Here are the alternatives and their problems:

(Please see next page)

1. Sell all or part of Rancho del Pueblo:

  • Lose very valuable open space.
  • A buyer’s most profitable and most likely use for this land is going to build more houses.
  • From open space to more houses and buildings is a one-way street. There is no way back for generations to come. The open space is forever gone!
  • King Road between Alum Rock and Story is already very crowded and congested. More houses will have even more issues with traffic, crime, noise, and pollution.
  • More houses will require more police-officers, fire-fighters and other public services. It will decrease and slow down emergency services, such as police, fire, ambulance to our community.
  • More houses means even more students per classroom in a bad school district. To improve East Side, we need our students to succeed and not a crowded classroom with few resources.
  • More houses will reduce our property’s value as homeowners, which only barely recovers from the economic depression.
  • Residents and communities around the city strongly voiced their concerns about losing open space for more houses in 2011 and will definitely fight it again.

2. Convert to other sport fields:

  • Existing Fields: PAL Sport Center (sjpdpal.com) is only 0.5 mile away and it has a soccer/football field and 2 baseball fields.
  • Watson park is 2.5 miles away and it has soccer fields and basketball courts.
  • Should we build more fields of the same/similar sports too close to each other?
  • Should the city have a wide variety of different sports, including golf?
  • A conversion will have additional costs (one-time costs & on-going maintenance costs). Where will those money come from?
  • There is NO GUARANTEE that these new fields will or can generate enough revenue to make any difference to the existing debts or operating costs.
  • What if the new fields lose more money than the currently known financial numbers for the existing golf courses?
  • Utilization: How long will the popularity of these sports last?
  • What if people lose interest in the chosen sport(s) in the future? Will these newly-build fields be in the same financial trouble?
  • What if golf becomes more popular and the golf course is already gone?
  • Have the city considered sunk/spent costs that were already put into the golf courses over the years (over 15 years already, half way on the debt service)? Switching now means writing off all these costs. If the new use for the land is not better and more profitable, that would be a HUGE waste of taxpayers’ money.

Your Concerned Neighbors

For more information:

Email: info@RanchoDelPueblo.org

http://www.RanchoDelPueblo.org

http://www.district5united.org/online-petition-regarding-rancho-del-pueblo-golf-course

http://www.thefirstteesiliconvalley.org/club/scripts/view/view_pubnews.asp?NS=GAU&PID=13977

Alternatives and their problems

We recommend keeping the golf courses as they are now and find ways to cut costs and increase revenues so that the combined 3 golf courses can break even on operating costs.

Here are the alternatives and their problems:

1. Sell all or part of Rancho del Pueblo:

  • Lose valuable open space.
  • A buyer’s most profitable and most likely use for this land is going to build more houses.
  • From open space to more houses and buildings is a one-way street. There is no way back for generations to come. The open space is forever gone!
  • King Road between Alum Rock and Story is already very crowded and congested. More houses will have more traffic, noise, and pollution issues.
  • Residents and communities strongly voiced their concerns about losing open space for more houses in 2011 and will definitely fight it again.

2. Convert to other sport fields:

  • Existing fields: PAL Sport Center (sjpdpal.com) is only 0.5 mile away and it has a soccer/football field and 2 baseball fields.
  • Watson park is 2.5 miles away and it has soccer fields and basketball courts.
  • Should we build more fields of the same/similar sports too close to each other? Should we have a rich variety of different sports in the city?
  • A conversion will incur additional costs (upfront costs & on-going maintenance costs). Where will those money come from?
  • There is NO GUARANTEE that the new fields will or can generate enough revenue to make any difference to the existing debts or operating costs.
  • What if the new fields lose more money than the currently known financial numbers?
  • Utilization: Will these other sports really more popular? For how long? Or is it just a trend like golf had in 2000s?
  • What if people lose interest in the selected/chosen non-golf sport(s) in the future? Will these newly-build fields be in the same financial trouble?
  • What if golf becomes popular again and the golf course is already gone?
  • Have the city considered sunk costs that were already put into the golf courses over the years (over 15 years already, half way on the debt service)? Switching now means writing off all these costs and if the new use for the land is not better and more profitable, that would be a HUGE waste of taxpayers’ money.

3. Convert partially the existing 9-hole golf course into a smaller course:

  • The First Tee participants might use only 3 holes while they’re in class but it is very likely they will play the full 9 holes next after they graduate, and eventually to 18 holes. The First Tee staff believes it will not be able to operate with a 3-hole course. Statement from the First Tee
  • A 9-hole golf course is already a small course. If made smaller, it is likely going to be useless for most golfers, including those players who graduated from the First Tee.
  • A long-term approach and vision is needed and not a quick fix.

Rancho del Pueblo is at RISK again!

After 4 years, the city is considering selling or changing Rancho del Pueblo again. We have to act and come out to oppose this like we did last time! Email your council members and let them know your opinion.

This site is now active again and we’ll try to provide you with updates and links. Please note that there are pages on this site that were from 2011 and now is 2015.

====== What you need to know:

Video of the discussion between councilmembers and staff about the audit report

 

The City of San José Office of the Auditor recently submitted a report to the City Council – “Golf Courses: A Loss of Customers and Revenues Requires a New Strategy.” The Auditor made three recommendations in the report:

1) Keep the three golf courses as they operate today;
2) Sell some of the land; and
3) Reconfigure one or more of the golf courses to other uses.
This report will be on the agenda at tomorrow’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. Our understanding is that the Golf Audit will be the FIRST item on the agenda at 5:30pm.
Wednesday, October 7th – 5:30pm
San José City Hall
200 East Santa Clara Street
San José, CA 95113
Wing – Rooms 118 & 119
This meeting is an opportunity for public comment, limited to 2 minutes per person. Please arrive by 5:30pm to show support for Rancho Del Pueblo.

Neighborhoods Commission Meeting on Dec 14, 2011

http://www.sanjoseca.gov/clerk/CommissionBoard/NC/2011NC.asp

I am passing along this information. Rancho del Pueblo is a Neighborhoods Commission agenda item. The Neighborhoods Commission meeting will be on:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
City Hall – Community Rooms 118-119
200 East Santa Clara Street
San Jose, CA 95113
6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Please spread the word on this meeting. In my personal opinion it is very important that interested District 5 constituents and other interested parties attend this meeting. These attendees need to express their concerns and feelings, especially on the neighborhood impacts, on Rancho del Pueblo issue to the Commission and ask the Neighborhoods Commission to go on the record with a letter to the Mayor and City Council.

It would be helpful that the impacts of the potential loss and neighborhood impacts of Rancho del Pueblo, (RDP), on neighborhoods, District 5, San Jose and surrounding communities be strongly communicated. Those attending will have the opportunity to make brief, 2-minute limit, public statements, as well as presenting written statements on RDP issues to the Commission.

This is an excerpt from the agenda:

g) Discussion and Action Items

(1) Presentation on City of San Jose Anti-Graffiti Program-Mike Will, Parks Manager, PRNS (6:45-7:15)

(2) Presentation on Implementation of City of San Jose Plastic Bags Ordinance, Environmental Services Department (7:15-7:45)

(3) Discussion of impact on City Budget of the potential sale of the Rancho del Pueblo Golf Course, located at 1649 Hermocilla Way, off King Road(7:45-8:00)
Very Truly Yours,

Jim Cantore

Neighborhoods Commissioner
District 9

November 1 Meeting – Rancho issue dropped from agenda

The decision/vote on the General Plan Amendment for Rancho Del Pueblo golf course from open-space to mixed-use is now delayed until further notice (maybe early 2012). It has been dropped from the agenda for Nov 1 meeting. These are the relevant links:

  1. Agenda for  San Jose City Council Meeting on November 1st, 2011
    (page #7, source: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/clerk/agenda.asp)
  2. Mercury News: San Jose to hold off on rezoning golf course for housing
  3. Memo on October 19 to drop the Rancho Del Pueblo and iStar proposed land use options from consideration as a part of the Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan hearing on the November 1, 2011 city council agenda

The Administration conducted three large community meetings, several neighborhood stakeholder meetings and made presentations to the Parks Commission, the Planning Commission and the Neighborhood Advisory Council. Over 800 people attended the meetings and the overwhelming sentiment expressed by attendees was to retain the Rancho del Pueblo Golf Course as a Golf Course or open space.

On September 29, 2011, the Mayor issued a memorandum on Rancho del Pueblo that recommended that no changes be made to the land use designation for the Rancho del Pueblo Golf Course. Independently, the Administration has determined that more analysis is needed prior to bringing forward for the Council’s consideration of a proposed land use change for the property. The Administration expects additional analysis could be completed in January 2012

What does it mean?

The council will still discuss the General Plan 2040 on November 1 meeting but without deciding on the future land-use (zoning) of Rancho Del Pueblo golf course, which is still Open-Space. The city is waiting for more information and analysis. Upon completion of additional analysis (likely by June 2012), this issue will be brought up again for a public hearing. We will need your support so please stay in the loop.

Some people consider this move a tactic to buy more time, calm public anger and delay an actual decision to reject/approve given the significant community’s opposition.

It also means the city is hearing our voices loud and clear. We do NOT want this open green space to be converted into more housing. There are other ways to solve the city’s budget and selling this open space is NOT one of them. We’ll be at the meeting on November 1 to continue our pressure and welcome your presence. We need to remind the council that each and every time this topic comes before them, the Community will be united in opposition.

From the beginning, we know that this issue is not just a simple Yes or No decision. A valuable item, like this, is never won easily. It will be a long campaign and our community is prepared and ready for it.

Please keep checking back this website for updates. We’ll bring you the most up-to-date information regarding Rancho Del Pueblo.

Updated November 4, 2011:

San Jose City Council approved the General Plan 2040 without the option to making any change to Rancho Del Pueblo site. Therefore, the vision in 2040 for this site is still Open Space. The vision emphasizes jobs before housing and we agree wholeheartedly. More housing at Rancho is not a solution. However, vision and implementation are two different things. We hope the Mayor and city councils stay committed to this vision, which they all approved. Related article:

http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_19245114

Memo from Mayor Chuck Reed

The Mayor issued a memo on September 29, 2011 that recommends the City Council “makes no change to the land use designation for Rancho del Pueblo Golf Course”. He also recommends that Council directs the City Manager to return to City Council by January 2012 with an analysis and valuation of properties. Download the memo by clicking here: Mayor Chuck Reed’s memo on Rancho Del Pueblo golf course

Please note that this is not the final decision. There are 11 votes: 10 council members and the mayor. The City Council meeting will be on November 1 (moved from October 25) and that is when the voting will happen. There are still works to be done to convince other council members to keep this open space open.

Updated (Oct 23): It turned out that the Mayor is very much supporting the idea of selling the golf course. He wants to make it a budget issue and not a land-use issue, which would upset many residents and organizations who value open space.

Planning Commission Public Hearing – Sept 28

There is a public hearing by the Planning Commission for the General Plan and Rancho zoning is one item on the agenda. Therefore, please mention the correct item number for Rancho when speaking to the panel and audience.

  • Location: City Hall Council Chambers
  • Address: 200 East Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA
  • Date: Wednesday, September 28, 2011
  • Time: 6:30 PM
  • Link to the Agenda

Summary

The Planning Commission unanimously approved a recommendation from the Envision 2040 Task Force that the golf course on King Road should stay with its current designation/zoning, which is open space.

Meeting Synopsis

 

Community Meeting – September 21

Meeting summary is available below.

Please come to the last community meeting to voice your concerns against the sale and housing development at this open green space. Your participation at this final community meeting is critical because District 1 community members need your help. It is likely that most are unaware of the facts about Rancho del Pueblo and unfortunately some may be in favor of the sale of Rancho based on incomplete information. They, and the city, need to hear all the reasons why Rancho should not be sold from their fellow San Jose residents like you.

  • Location: Cypress Community Center
  • Address: 403 S. South Cypress Avenue, San Jose, CA  [ Map ]
  • Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
  • Time: 6:30 PM

Summary (updated Sep 24)

  • Council member Pete Constant (District 1) and Pierluigi Oliverio (District 6) attended the meeting and listened to the public comments.
  • Liz Brownfield, CPA: city council members do not have all the information on Rancho. City has a huge retirement liability that should be addressed. The city should focus efforts and money in addressing the city employees’ salary and pension.
  • Rancho is too small to really fix anything. And losing an open space without fixing the real/root problem is a mistake.
  • San Jose is a low-cost housing magnet for employees but many their employers are in other cities (Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, etc.) The city can do a much better job to attract more employers, more businesses to earn revenue from corporation/business taxes
  • City has to pay a prepayment penalty if selling the golf course before 2017. The bonds for Rancho also tie with other city-owned properties (Berryessa Community Center, Camden Park, Murdock Park, Hayes Mansion). More Info
  • Selling this land is a short-term, desperate attempt to bring in one-time cash infusion and does not consider the long-term problems that come with housing, or the long-term vision of a green, livable city.
  • Ideas: negotiate with bond holders, interest rates are low and it should be refinanced to reduce the burden on city’s budget
  • Salary for city employees so it stay in line with the current economy, stay within the current market rates. No double-dipping.
  • We should not use confrontation (one sport vs. another sport, one district vs. another district) to solve problems, we should collaborate and find a solution with a long-term vision
  • City should have a plan to attract industries, businesses, create jobs. It’s more sustainable and has a long-term vision than just smoke and screen.
  • Don’t use public safety as a political tool
  • We need leaders with a vision: “Without vision the people perish”
  • The 1st Tee: use golf to teach kids, not just teach golf to kids
  • It is an integral part of a bigger system: Rancho feeds Lagos, then SJ Municipal Golf Course
  • It’s more than just a recreational service/facility
  • The seller (2 families, including the Zolezzi family) sold 53-acre Thunderbird golf course to the city of San Jose at a deep discount (around $4-5M) with a commitment that the city builds housing on half and keeps half as the 9-hole golf course (Rancho) for the people and for future generations. Only 10 years after and it’s already a broken promise.
  • 570 housing units, 1000 more cars. The city chooses to subsidize housing instead of a recreational activity.
  • More houses, more people will mean more crimes and congestion. Will need more police in this area to control the new problem.
  • Open spaces do not need police. Housing, people, traffic do need police to take care of them.
  • Don’t build more houses if the city does not have a plan to take care of the new residents.
  • The area has one bus line and few public transportation options available. It will be a massive parking, traffic problem.
  • People paid a premium price for the existing houses, built with a promise that the city-owned golf course would always be there. All advertising flyers had the golf course as a selling point. This is a broken promise and there might be potential lawsuits
  • General Plan Update: 2040 task force already recommend the existing zoning (Open Space, Park Land). People in this task force worked hard to create a long-term vision. Why change it? Does it mean their efforts go to waste?
  • San Jose already has a low ratio of park comparing with other cities. It’s quality of life that should not be traded for more housing.
  • A D6 neighborhood leader shared her story that her community also has no community center but they do not want to lose any public open space, especially for more housing. She stated the fact is that all parks are subsidized.
  • When times are good, too expensive to buy land. Therefore, don’t sell public open space land when the economy is bad. The appraisal value is low currently. It is a broken/false promise if the city keep selling public open space.
  • There is no guarantee that the money goes back to public services. It is likely to go back to pay off debts for other properties. Public safety would stay at the same low level without any real or sustainable improvement.
  • Robin, a real-estate professional, who sold 4 houses at golf course, feels like he cheated and lied to the house buyers. So many people believes that because the golf course is owned by the city, it’s more likely to stay in business than a private one.
  • He wonders if there is any item in CC&R or sales/marketing contracts, that could build a case for a class-action lawsuit. A potential lawsuit can put a hold on any potential sale and housing development and can complicate matters for the city.
  • Better marketing, advertising, revenue-generating approaches (enhance coffee shop, higher tee rate, corporate sponsorship, events), better labor-cost management
  • Selling the land is a one-time fix for a long-term problem
  • Selling the open space is irreversible, cannot get it back
  • Existing houses were built around Rancho with a promise that the golf course will be there. People who bought houses here are not the riches, they invested their life savings into these houses and were willing to pay a premium to stay near the open space.
  • If more houses are built, the whole neighborhood do not have anything desirable left. It’s next to freeway 101/680 with noises, pollution, congested traffic and high crime-rate, all without the open space that Rancho has been provided for more than 10 years.
  • For the long-term, it will be a net loss for the city taking care of new problems
  • Why build more houses if you cannot take care of them? Where are the savings when the city has to pay for fire/police for the new houses/residents?
  • Bob: the bond should not have been issued for this golf course, find a way to get it off the general fund and run it more efficiently

Opinions from individuals who support the sale

Nobody actually supported housing development at this open space. The comments were all about the financial issue.

  • Concern about the budget, rising pension, public safety (police/firefighter) is critical. Understanding that cutting costs is unpopular.
    Comment: Yes, there is a bigger problem. But it’s not Rancho. They are rising pension, salaries and benefits of city employees that should be addressed first. It’s a huge problem (billions of dollars). Rancho is too small to make any different. Losing an open space (forever) when we still have the actual problem is a huge mistake.
  • When times are tough, get back to the basics, food come first, safety first, only for survival.
    Comment: it’s a band-aid solution. For example, when you have no money, you neglect your old/broken fences, gates, doors. This invites burglary and bad things can happen to your house/family. We need to look more than just one day ahead, regardless of good times or bad times. When times are good, look to save for the rainy days. When times are bad, look to cut what is actually wasteful and significant (80/20 Pareto rule). Don’t cut if it’s useful or just because you can.
  • If the golf course cannot stand on its own, then sell it
    Comment: all parks, recreational facilities, community centers use city’s money. This facility is just one of them. It is a public service. Using your argument then we should close all parks, all community centers, libraries, sports complexes, recreational facilities, etc.
  • Laying off police to subsidize golf is bad. Idea: lease the full golf course to a private operator (like SJ Muni’s business model)
    Comment: I like your idea to run golf course more efficiently and it should be looked at. However, you have been misled if you think the police are laid off because city spends money on golf courses. Rising pension, salaries and benefits of city employees that are out of touch with the economy and the private sector, is a big reason. Without addressing that, selling all golf courses and other city properties won’t solve anything. It’s just a drop in the bucket.

Community Meeting – September 8

Meeting summary is available below.

Please come to the upcoming community meeting on Thursday to voice your concerns against the sale and housing development at this open green space:

  • Location: Mexican Heritage Plaza
  • Address: 1700 Alum Rock Ave, San Jose (corner of King Rd. & Alum Rock Ave.)
  • Date: Thursday, September 8, 2011
  • Time: 6:00 PM

Don’t forget to sign the online petition.

Summary

  • Governments should involve with recreational activities, sports, including golf. It makes residents healthy (mentally and physically), active, and happy. It’s in the constitution (“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”).
  • Golf is not a luxury sport unless you imagine the fancy country clubs. Especially at Rancho, it is affordable, casual, and friendly. Seniors on a fixed income play here because it’s affordable and help them stay active and healthy. It’s not a luxury or elite sport.
  • Money management: city leaves money on the table during negotiations and being taken advantage by business partners. Example: lease of SJ Muni Golf Course below market for many years. Business makes money, city loses money.
  • First Tee program is an excellent, nationally recognized program to help kids with life skills, become more polite, more confident, more respectful to other people. It’s less about golf and more about developing good citizens.
  • This land is a tiny piece of land comparing to other areas in the city, it will not solve the city’s problems. City should perform a full and long-term cost/benefit analysis to see if all the future problems (crime, traffic, sewer, road, youth development, enforcement etc.) will cost more than the city gets for this tiny piece of land.
  • Selling this land is a short-term attempt to fix the budget but it will not fix the long-term budget. Pensions, health benefits, city employee compensations are much bigger problems and should be tackled first.
  • City jumped the gun, should find a way to fix it instead of finding a way to sell it. You cannot find the right solution if you’re looking at the wrong direction. The city should find a way to keep it open, it’s a more positive and long-term approach.
  • City of San Jose used to be the safest big city in the US. It’s slipping down in recent years as gang problems and criminal activities. We cannot let this trend continues. If there is less opportunities for high-risk youth to become better individuals, to make good friends (via the First Tee program), they will be more likely to make mistakes and follow the bad influence. We need programs for the youth.
  • This area is one of the poorest area in the city and this golf course is a unique gem, a gift from the previous generation (Zolezzi family when selling the Thunderbird land to the city) to the future generations. The city cannot break the promise and take it away.
  • Criteria to include school campuses as park spaces in order to meet the park/resident ratio.
  • Art Calderon, a local merchant/business owner, said even though he might be benefit from the higher traffic and higher number of residents, he does not want businesses to take opportunities from kids. He said the city should do what the people want, no need for political dramas, make a smart/long-term decision, protect the people, surround the decision makers with smart/positive/respectful people.
  • Eileen Mai received the message from Councilmember Pete Constant, which she said is misleading. Pete did not mention about the housing development that will significantly impact the area. Pete described golf a luxury sport for a small number of people, rich people, which is not the case here at Rancho. Rancho is affordable. It targets kids, young adults, fixed-income seniors. Readers who received Pete’s message can be misled to think that closing down a golf course can solve the city budget without any long-term consequences. There are many consequences: congested traffic, higher crime, higher demand for city public service, less opportunities for youth, etc.
  • People are concerned that city officials hear but do not listen or take into serious consideration when making their decisions.
  • Key decision makers should all come out to these community meetings to hear people speak and answer questions instead of staying in their comfortable offices and holding onto their own thoughts. People wonder if public outreach is just to let people speak into a black box with no feedback or making any difference.
  • A person reminded that if city council members do not listen, the people can vote them out.
  • If kids and seniors must move to other golf courses (eg: Los Lagos), it would slow down more experienced players at those courses and make it less attractive for them. They might go elsewhere to play. The down cycle continues. That’s why Rancho is designed specifically for kids, seniors and beginners.

Ideas

  • Marketing: the city does not focus in marketing as a business should. City keeps losing money on the properties, not because they’re bad places but because the city does not take full advantages of these properties. Examples: SJ Muni (lease income is below market), Hayes Mansion, Convention Center, Rancho, Los Lagos.
  • Increase the revenue with: facility sponsorship, corporate events, contests/tours, event sales (wedding, photo shoots, etc.) Wedding ceremonies that is more affordable than the country clubs but still at a nice golf course, open space setting.
  • Open Space Authority, who buys land to preserve open green spaces for the public
  • Get involvement from a higher level agency (county, regional, state, or federal)
  • Refinancing, get a better interest rate on existing debts