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Another new operator for Oakmont golf courses

Another new operator for  Oakmont golf courses

During the Glass Fire in September, there was extensive damage to vegetation in that area.

“Since the Glass Fire, our team has been actively working with Cal Fire and local resources to ensure the site is safe and clear all trees damaged from the devastating fire,” said Frank Quintero, a principal with Yucaipa Companies.

Yucaipa created Kenwood Ranch LLC, as the legal ownership entity.

Things were looking up for golf in Oakmont at the beginning of the year as the Oakmont Village Association (OVA) board of directors had secured funding to purchase the two golf courses and associated restaurant and other facilities – 250 acres of green space in the heart of the community.

In 2019, the previous owner, the Oakmont Golf Club (OGC), was headed toward insolvency. The OVA board decided to try to purchase the golf courses, and received the support from Oakmont residents when they overwhelmingly voted for a homeowner dues increase to set the wheels in motion for Oakmont ownership.

After the $3.7 million purchase was completed with the OGC, OVA signed a 20-year agreement with Advance Golf Partners (AGP) to run the golf and restaurant operations. Work began on the golf courses and remodeling of the pro shop and other facilities. Things were going fine until COVID-19 hit. Then, in July, with little explanation, AGP suddenly announced they were pulling out of the lease with the OVA. In August, AGP president Larry Galloway explained that the pandemic delayed an expected March opening of the golf courses, permits to renovate the clubhouse couldn’t be obtained, and all maintenance restoration efforts had to cease. Contingency and start-up cash, as well as $250,000 in federal COVID- related Paycheck Protection Program funds, were all gone. The entity AGP created to run the golf courses, AGP 2, subsequently declared bankruptcy.

OVA then entered into negotiations with new potential operators, eventually deciding on Petaluma-based CourseCo. As part of the deal, CourseCo, which operates a number of golf clubs in the Bay Area, agreed to a 10year lease and to spend $1 million on club improvements in the first three years of the contract.

Three Valley fire districts combine,

Kenwood not included

The fire districts of Glen Ellen, Mayacamas and Valley of the Moon merged this year in a process of consolidating the county’s multitudinous independent fire districts to face the ever-growing complexity and costs of managing fire and emergency services in light of warming weather, drought, and the consequences of a century of “Smokey the Bear” policies of extinguishing all wildland fires.

KenwoodFireProtectionDistrict(KFPD) was not able to join in the merger because of a $700,000 deficit in salary levels from the merging districts, having the dubious honor of being the lowest-paying fire district in the county. That deficit will soon be erased, according to Fire Chief Daren Bellach, but it is still not clear when or even if KFPD will join a future merger.

The long push to consolidate the county’s many independent fire departments took on new momentum after Sonoma County wildfires destroyed over 5,500 homes, including 374 in Kenwood and Glen Ellen, and threatened thousands more throughout Sonoma Valley in October of 2017.

Even so, continuing mistrust of county fire administration has kept many rural fire departments at arm’s length from the consolidation process. Schell-Vista Fire District opted out of the process, having just increased its local fire assessment. The City of Sonoma declined to engage since its City Council has not reviewed the issue.

The new Sonoma Valley Fire District, under the leadership of Chief Steve Akre, was formed after an extensive examination and approval by the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). Valley of the Moon FD was the largest of the three, even without the partnership of the City of Sonoma. Glen Ellen FD is less than half the size of VOMFD, and Mayacamas VFD is less than half the size of Glen Ellen, yet all three offer mutual support and complimentary fire services.

The emerging Sonoma Valley Fire District staffing consists of a fire chief, four division chiefs, 10 captains, 15 engineers, 37 part-time firefighters, six full-time EMS employees, 26 part-time EMS employees and four clerical staff. LAFCO found the consoli-