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News: 07/01/2019

Oakmont board will bid on golf facilities

The board of directors of the Oakmont Village Association (OVA) will try to buy the community’s golf facilities, but their undisclosed offer will be contingent on a community vote in favor of increasing association dues by up to $23 a month – $16 of it for golf.

At an overflowing town hall meeting on June 25, board vice president Tom Kendrick outlined a plan to lease out golf and restaurant operations, saying that the arrangement would assure OVA control of the 225-acre golf and restaurant facilities, with many costs covered by the “net lease partner.”

It is not even clear that Oakmont will be the only bidder, and the final selection of a buyer will be up to the members of the semi-private Oakmont Golf Club. The club set an asking price of $4.8 million and called for offers to be made by June 27. It does not have to select the highest bid.

Kendrick said the board’s offer will be below the asking price and the board will not get into a bidding war. “We have no intention of being the highest bidder.”

At an executive session following the town hall, the board voted unanimously to submit a letter of intent for what board president Steve Spanier said later was “a very fair price.” Board members Jeff Marzak and Marianne Neufeld were absent because of previous commitments.

Submitting the letter is only the first of several steps that could take several weeks. The board could step back any time during the due diligence process.

Ballots will be mailed on July 2 to Oakmont’s 3,208 eligible voters, asking them to authorize a dues increase of up to $23 a month, which would bring the dues from the current $75 to $98. The increase would include $5 to $7 to maintain and operate current OVA assets, up to $6 to pay off a loan to finance the golf purchase, and about $10 for future operations. Balloting will end Aug. 2. In order to pass, at least 1,605 eligible voters must return ballots, and a majority of those would need to be “yes.”

Kendrick stressed that while there are no guarantees, any future golf-related dues increases under the lease arrangement should be minimal – or even offset by golf revenues. “Many costs would be covered by the lease partner, such as taxes, insurance, and maintenance,” he said.

Ken Arimitsu, a broker with 23 years experience hired to represent the OVA, said negotiations with one firm are now underway for a 30-year lease, with the company providing $1 million up front.

Director Heidi Klyn said if OVA doesn’t purchase the courses, the land “will be out of our reach forever.” She said her research shows that 99 percent of golf courses sold nationwide in the last 10 years were bought by developers, adding that city planners often make changes to accommodate builders.

Opponents challenged her position, citing a number of “hurdles” any developer would face, including changing the city general plan. They also say the vote is proceeding too quickly.

The town hall opened with a detailed PowerPoint presentation by Kendrick, which reviewed the present status of the golf course, the options facing the OVA, and the effect on membership dues. He said of almost 300 emails received by the OVA nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, supported purchasing the golf course. He said 16 percent opposed the purchase, “sometimes vehemently,” with the opinion of the rest (20 percent) “not clear.”

Kendrick said discussions and planning for other OVA projects – particularly the central area that includes the Berger Center – will continue uninterrupted. “A key beneficial aspect” of acquiring OGC property would be potential expansion of the Central Area, which abuts the third green and fourth tee of the West Golf Course, he said.

Kendrick also said the association’s ability to secure loans in the future should not be impacted and OVA tax status should not significantly change.

The board plans to disclose updated information about its efforts to buy the golf facilities at back-to-back community meetings on July 2 at the newly reopened East Rec Center.


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Community Calendar

Food Bank comes to Sonoma Valley
Funky Fridays concerts at Hood Mansion
“Fantastical Family Night” at Jack London
Oakmont Farmers Market
Walk ‘n Wag
‘Forest bathing’ hike
“Fantastical Family Night” at Jack London
Kenwood Community Church service
Butterflies and dragonflies hike
Al Anon meeting
Bingo at Rincon Valley Grange

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