Oakmont Golf cents and sensibility
By Karen Oswald
For over a year the Oakmont community has been fed a stream of misconceptions, misinformation, distorted concerns, and “scare tactics” by the Oakmont Golf Club (OGC) and the Oakmont Village Association (OVA) Board of Directors, while sweeping facts under the rug in regards to the OGC’s financial situation and the OVA’s inappropriate intentions to “bail out” a failing for-profit business.
In the April 1, 2019, President’s Message in the Oakmont News, Steve Spanier stated that the OVA has only three options in regards to the sale of the OGC: do nothing, provide financial aid, or buy the OGC, giving the impression that the OVA must “save” the OGC. In fact, the OGC has many options – sell to the city, like Foxtail in Rohnert Park, sell the Quail Inn to Hospitality investors, etc.
Also cited was the “significant” income raised by the recent OGC assessment, approximately $185,000. Hardly a “significant” sum in relationship to the extensive amount of OGC’s deferred maintenance, the $2.5 million loan, the SBA loan, vendor debt, underfunded operating costs, and long-needed renovations and upgrades.
Referring to weddings, events, tournaments, and the restaurant as revenue sources is extremely misleading. In 2018 then-OGC President Barbara Robinson stated, “Only the restaurant provides any income.” All of these events/activities have been ongoing for years and have failed to sustain the OGC finances.
Designed to instill fear, the continual rhetoric that OGC “could be bought by a developer who would build homes on the golf course land causing traffic, construction noise, and falling property values” is unrealistic for numerous reasons.
Santa Rosa’s General Plan designates Oakmont and OGC area as, “recreational open space with low density residential development.” All infrastructure, including roads, utilities, emergency access, storm drains, were specially designed for the size of the current established development.
Any attempt to develop the area would require re-zoning, an extremely time consuming and costly endeavor, rarely meeting with success. In addition, re-zoning or change to the general plan also requires compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, another extremely costly venture.
John Sawyer of the Santa Rosa City Council, has stated that in the city and the county’s General Plans, the Oakmont golf courses have an “open space in perpetuity” designation. And as verified by Mike Sheppard, former Santa Rosa City Senior Planner, a developer would have an extremely difficult time applying for a permit and it would probably never happen.
This campaign to hold Oakmont residents hostage continues to fly in the face of reality.
Constantly citing that the loss of property values if the golf course closes is blatantly untrue. Property values continue to rise and homes in the Adobe Creek area of Petaluma are currently selling between $689,000 to $1.1 million.
Moreover, the oft-repeated sentiment that the area will turn brown and be overrun with weeds, trash, and rodents, is equally false. Prior to the rain, numerous visits to Adobe Creek found the grass green and maintained, as are other local closed golf courses.
Yet there are serious concerns which remain unanswered by the OVA Board, including:
• Are there any deed restrictions?
• What are the costs of OGC deferred maintenance; debts; renovation issues; staffing/managing the golf course/restaurant/maintenance?
• How will the Board ensure that the Berger renovation is not jeopardized by diverting OVA funds to the OGC?
These issues raise significant financial concerns for the viability of the OVA.
Recently, OVA President Spanier resigned his membership in the OGC, to “avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.”
However, since his 2018 campaign for and election to the OVA Board, Spanier has had a significant conflict of interest in all matters relating to the OVA and OGC relationship, especially in the area of financial support of the OGC and negotiations to garner this support.
A member of a board is instilled with the obligation of fiduciary duty, including the duty of care and duty of loyalty. This is the highest duty known to the law and does not allow for any conflict of interest whatsoever and requires full disclosure of any potential conflict of interest.
A recent resignation does not erase previous violations.
Additionally, a board member is required to act “with the care, … and diligence ... that a prudent man would use in the conduct of an enterprise ...”
It is beyond imprudent to incur debt to obtain a repeated failing business one has no experience or knowledge of operating. Saving the OGC is not within the OVA board’s purview; maintaining Oakmont is.