Director: San Ramon Golf Club in danger of closing

Days after pool shutdown, golf director says 18-hole course could be next after housing plan 'rebuffed'

The owners of San Ramon Golf Club are strongly considering closing the 18-hole golf course in the south-central part of the city as a cost-cutting measure, according to the club's golf director.

Elaborating on why the club's pool was shut down days earlier, director of golf Dan Griffin told pool members in an email Tuesday that closing the pool was necessary for financial reasons -- and closure of the golf course could well be the next step -- because ownership's plan to add housing to part of the property appeared unlikely to receive city support.

"With no prospect to be able to add additional homes that would allow substantial investment in the golf course and the pool, (club ownership) recognized that they could not continue to keep the pool, and most likely the golf course, open in their current financial condition," Griffin wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by

Griffin, who did not respond to multiple requests for additional comment, said in his email that the club's ownership had conversations with city officials about a potential housing plan at the course, but "the city rebuffed their proposal plans."

San Ramon City Manager Greg Rogers confirmed Wednesday that two members of the city's Planning Division spoke with a golf club representative about ownership's desire to build homes at the site, but Rogers said no development application has been filed with the city.

"The golf course representative inquired about building residential units on the golf course property, and he was informed by staff that the property is not zoned for residential units so any application for residual units could not be processed," Rogers said.

Any residential development proposal on golf course property would require approval of a general plan amendment to change the site's land-use designation, a rezoning and a full environmental impact report, Rogers said. The general plan amendment would need four-fifths approval by the Planning Commission and City Council.

It wasn't immediately clear how many and what types of homes the club's ownership wants to build and where the residences would sit. In his email, Griffin said the plan called for "some housing on a small portion of the golf course."

Tucked about two miles east of Interstate 680, the 18-hole golf course winds through a residential neighborhood as well as near the Iron Horse Regional Trail and open spaces. The club also features a driving range, swimming pool and the Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center at its main address on Fircrest Lane off Alcosta Boulevard.

Club officials announced to pool membership on Friday that the pool would not open at all this year. The news came two days before the San Ramon Aqua Bears were set to start their 2016 season at the club, the home pool for the youth swim team for nearly three decades, according to Aqua Bears co-chair Sarah Eddings.

Closing the pool was "an agonizing decision for ownership," Griffin said in his email to members. He also said club officials apologized for the "significant inconvenience" the pool shutdown caused.

"When ownership bought the golf course, they did so knowing they would have to make a substantial investment in the infrastructure, as no material capital expenses had been allocated to the surrounding area for decades," Griffin wrote.

"Execution of this (housing) plan would provide the resources needed to make the required capital improvements to keep the golf course and the pool financially viable," he said, adding:

"If circumstances change, and ownership sees a path forward towards allowing some homes on the site, we will let you know. Only then will they be able to secure funds that would allow us to re-open the pool, prevent the golf course from closing and make substantial investment into the property."

As for the possibility of the golf course shutting down, San Ramon's city manager said, "A closure of the golf course would be a loss of a recreational opportunity for the community, as well as having a likely negative impact on homeowners who live around the golf course."

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38 people like this
Posted by Just the facts
a resident of San Ramon
on May 5, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Anyone who buys property in San Ramon or any other city should know and understand the underlying zoning and general plan requirements. These protect all property owners including individual residential property owners as well as large commercial developers. Knowing what is and isn't allowed on all parcels protects everyone's interests. This developer knew that the golf course was zoned as golf course (duh) and therefore knew that homes couldn't be built without a general plan amendment. The requirements of such are plainly spelled out by the city of San ramon. Government 'officials' don't have the authority to approve changes to that without the requisite applications and public hearings that go along with it. This giveS all residents and property owners due process regarding such changes. This developer knew that yet is intimating that a city official could simply just change those rules and allow housing. How ridiculous. Holding a local youth swim team hostage to this is unethical. Yes, it is the owners right to open or close their pool for whatever reason they want to but clearly closing it at the last minite was intended to put pressure on the community to agree to something outside of the public process that is there to protect all property owners. Shame on them.

20 people like this
Posted by SRGC member
a resident of San Ramon
on May 6, 2016 at 6:59 am

Agree with 'resident of San Ramon'. Owner bought property for way more than it was valued at for one purpose and one purpose only - to build housing and get his money back and lots more. Closing the pool on roughly 200 kids to ruin their summer shows what type of person he is. All this rhetoric from the manager is PR. Guess us golfers will be going to Canyon Lakes.

16 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of San Ramon
on May 6, 2016 at 7:35 am

I'm glad the city did step up and find some lane time at its pool for the Aqua Bears.

The new owner [...] did something similar in Escodido. He closed and demanded to build homes. The difference there was the golf course wasn't zoned as a golf course. In San Ramon it is zoned as a golf course.

This guy create a crisis and then blames the city for his problems. This tactic has been used for centuries.

Come to the community organization meeting on Friday night (May6) at the Alcosta Senior Center at 8pm to hear how you can help stop this guy.

[Portions of this post were removed due to disrespectful comments]

17 people like this
Posted by Another possibility
a resident of San Ramon
on May 6, 2016 at 7:56 am

Maybe the city should wait until this developer decides to sell, purchase the land (or use eminent domain?), and then convert it to a Municipal Golf Course.

28 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of San Ramon
on May 6, 2016 at 9:39 am

No eminent domain! The owner would love that. Eminent domain requires an appraiser to value the property at highest and best use regardless of the zoning. Any dispute between the owner and the city would be settled by a jury trial. This guy never bought a golf course. He bought the dirt that the golf course sets on to develop a housing plan and sell it. The previous owner has been upgrading the drainage for years, he bought new golf carts and he has built new sand traps over the last year. The pool was refurbished ten years ago. This owner paid way more than the asking price and then came in with a letter that said the course wasn't viable and he would need houses. He bought it in December and wrote the letter in January.

15 people like this
Posted by golfer
a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2016 at 9:43 am

All home owners at the San Ramon Golf Course are negatively affected financially by the action of the new owner. This could add up to a substantial financial loss for this community and filing a class action liability suit now should stop the situation from deteriorating further.

24 people like this
Posted by Angie
a resident of San Ramon
on May 6, 2016 at 9:56 am

This is the MO for this particular developer. He did the same in Escondido (see link below) He should be in jail.
Web Link

16 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Diablo Vista Middle School
on May 6, 2016 at 11:55 am

Thanks for that link Angie. So his name is Ronald Richards, Beverly Hills attorney and real estate developer. He sounds like the lowest form of [...] self-centered, money-hungry narcissist, based on that Escondido lawsuit and what he is up to now in San Ramon. Wow, exactly the same situation with the San Ramon Golf Course. I hope this guy gets what's coming to him. His life will be in the gutter soon with the help of Karma.

[Portion of this post removed due to disrespectful comment]

11 people like this
Posted by jd
a resident of San Ramon
on May 9, 2016 at 9:42 am

jd is a registered user.

From a golfers perspective, this year SR increased their fees and now 'Close' at around 7pm. Last year we could get 18 holes in before it got dark. That goes for all local courses that we play. All makes sense now. New scumbag ownership.

13 people like this
Posted by San Ramon Resident and Golfer
a resident of San Ramon
on May 10, 2016 at 10:09 am

San Ramon Resident and Golfer is a registered user.

I've just spent the last couple of days reviewing the history of this issue (as well as the other courses that have been subjected to the same tactics at the hands of these two).

We are lucky to have recognized the situation for what it is so early in the process. We are also lucky the course is zoned for a golf course, and that the City appears to know what they're up to.

The course itself hasn't yet suffered irreparable damage. This could however change very quickly. If maintenance schedules change, or watering schedules are reduced or stopped, it will only be a matter of weeks before what is now an operating course turns into useless fallow property. If that happens it will dramatically increase the likelihood that these two eventually win. It will also dramatically increase the time and money required to return the course to (even somewhat normal) operations.

We need to get this understanding into the minds of the City Council (City Council meeting tonight by the way).

Subpoenaing maintenance records and watering information, and forming a team within City Hall to monitor the watering and maintenance is not out of the question. Considering the "Chicken Incident" and the other history, it shouldn't be impossible to convince a Judge that the situation really should be watched carefully. A Prophylactic Injunction may keep the property fulfilling the intent of the citizens and City Hall, as well as force the new ownership into showing their real motives (out of what I'm sure is a carefully made plan).

Looking toward a permanent solution, although I read someone opposed Eminent Domain because of the expense, once the real motives are proven, Eminent Domain can be a reasonable and workable solution.

Go to the City Council meeting tonight!

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