Golf courses

Turn California’s public golf courses into affordable housing


Editorials and other opinion content provide insights into issues important to our community and are independent of the work of our newsroom reporters.


California’s public golf courses have a role to play in providing affordable housing.

California’s public golf courses have a role to play in providing affordable housing.

Cities are scrambling to find suitable sites to fulfill their legal obligation to provide enough housing. In California communities where housing costs are high and jobs are plentiful, golf course redevelopment offers a unique opportunity to create mixed-income communities with more housing options than most cities currently offer. .

Our existing housing stock is mostly one-story homes on lots of 6,000 square feet or more, housing the post-war generation workforce. Golf course redevelopment can integrate affordable housing with starter homes, open space and retail to create new neighborhoods within established communities – perhaps with less opposition than often welcomes projects perceived as being “in my backyard”.

Housing for today’s workforce should include both subsidized and unsubsidized apartments for low- and middle-income households as well as condominiums and townhouses accessible to first-time home buyers. . To build affordable housing for today’s middle class, we must build at densities higher than those permitted by typical post-war housing developments.

Golf courses have the space for thoughtful planning and design of these neighborhoods and their integration into surrounding towns with little impact on existing developments. This opportunity is most valuable in urban and suburban communities, where opportunities for infill development are often limited to industrial sites known as brownfields.

Many jurisdictions have included or are considering including public golf courses in their state-required housing plans as sites for affordable residential development – housing priced below market price for low-income households. income (less than 80% of the median income of a region).

The development of affordable housing for low-income people requires subsidies. These can take the form of tax credits, state and federal funds, philanthropic donations as well as the use of public lands. The ability of a local government to donate or discount the land can be essential in making an affordable housing project financially feasible.

Public golf courses subsidize the hobby of a few people with the means to afford the expensive equipment and pay the “green fee”, which is literally admission to occupy the public space. We can reprioritize the basic housing needs of individuals and families when we use the land to build new neighborhoods and community amenities for today’s workforce.

Assembly Bill 1910 would establish a grant program to provide incentives to local governments that provide public golf courses for housing and open spaces accessible to the public. This bill expands the options local governments have if they decide to convert a public golf course into housing.

While golf course redevelopment may not be suitable for exurban or resort communities, AB 1910 is a first step in clarifying our priorities in urban and suburban communities where much of the California workforce calls home. she.

Elizabeth Hansburg is co-founder and director of People for Housing OC, a Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) organization in Orange County. Cristina Garcia is a Los Angeles County Deputy.

Elizabeth Hansbourg
Elizabeth Hansburg is co-founder and director of People for Housing OC, Orange County’s Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) organization. Elizabeth Hansbourg

Cristina Garcia
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia represents California’s 58th Assembly District, which includes part of the Gateway Cities region of Los Angeles County. Cristina Garcia

Related Sacramento Bee Stories