SJ Neighborhoods Commission - Rancho del Pueblo letter
BOB Dolci Draft for May Subcommittee MeetingTO. San José City CouncilFROM: Neighborhoods CommissionDATE: April 4, 2012CONCERNING: Sale of Rancho Del Pueblo Golf CourseThe City of San José should not consider the sale of Rancho Del Pueblo Golf Course (RDP)as a viable financial solution to address or attempt to solve immediate and future fiscalemergencies. The short and long-term costs of selling RDP will fall far short of relievingdeficits. In fact, the sale of RDP may cause the City to incur future financial liabilities forwhich the City may be ill-prepared to handle. Such a sale: • Is inherently a one-time transactions and is categorized in the private sector as extraordinary income or capital gains/losses. • Like any sale of a fixed asset, affects the quality of neighborhoods all over the City especially because it is used directly by residents for outdoor activities. • Will not significantly solve current and future budget shortfalls. A potential sale of RDP would be just a drop in the bucket, a one-time small quick buck for a budget deficit. • Would potentially destroy an open space environment in exchange for creating new housing. This would cause an increase in the demand for City services, including emergency services; and contribute to increased school enrollment and overcrowded classrooms in the local schools, requiring additional school capacity. The latter would burden homeowners in the area with property tax increases due to probable school bond assessments. These increases will create financial hardships on senior and lower income homeowners. The City routinely has been a driving force behind such scenarios; such as those that played out in District 7 where residents are now cursed with overcrowded schools and bond debt for both elementary and secondary schools, while at the same time the more affluent districts in the City have closed schools.By contrast, preservation of City assets, such as RDP, and the funding of their maintenanceand operating expenses should be one of the Citys highest budget priorities because bydoing so the City would preserve a valuable community asset and avoid far greater costsrelated to deteriorating neighborhoods. With respect to RDP, no dollar value can beattributed to the following facts about the value of the RDP facilities. They provide: • A very quiet and naturally calming place that helps to ensure a greater perceived calming ambience to the community and immediate area. • A safe haven for disabled, children, and seniors. • A safe, more peaceful place for all to go, free of dangerous influences. • A green oasis, a green space free of visual obstructions, such as walls, thereby enhancing the light in our children’s, disabled persons’, senior’s and general community’s eyes due to experiencing the green space and tranquility of this special place. • Very little noise pollution, fewer cars and traffic associated with retail or commercial environment. • Relief from more overcrowded schools due to large high density residential structures. • An opportunity for all ages to see more trees, wetlands and natural wildlife.
• A place for all ages to meet in an informal lunch room and snack bar. • A place where children can learn about wildlife and experience scarce, naturally green and spacious areas. • An environment that contributes to much cleaner air to breath for the entire South Bay Area. • An excellent opportunity to learn lifes values via the renowned First Tee Program, which teaches children and youth to follow rules, display sportsmanship, maintain proper, positive behavior, decorum and practice fair play. These beneficial attributes come at no cost to the city, as a result of this on-site program.Such values and related issues are in some instances priceless to the Bay Area and especiallyto San José residents and neighborhoods. As such, these issues and facts are extremelyimportant and in some instances nearly impossible to place a dollar value on them for thesake of budgetary purposes. Furthermore: • The bay area benefits from this priceless, irreplaceable facility. Consider that New York’s Central Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park were kept intact by these cities despite the financial stress and hardships of the Great Depression. • Rancho Del Pueblo and its predecessor, Thunderbird Golf Course, have been a place for golf since the late 60s, nearly 50 years. There is a priceless value of this facility to the South Bay Area. • A loss of "inner-city-green-space" should be avoided at any time due to the permanence of that loss and insurmountable cost of replacing it at a later date. • A study conducted by San José State University in the early 2000s revealed that inner city San José is very "park-deficient" by the Citys own criteria. A sale of any such large green space will further exacerbate that deficiency. • RDP Is an equitable facility in that a potential loss of the facility would constitute a continuation of unfair, unbalanced policies that have reduced green space and eliminated recreational facilities in the East San José area, disproportionately with respect to the rest of the City • The City has done grave harm to many of its newer immigrant minority youth with its high-density affordable housing plans. Schools have been negatively impacted by these plans, in that the City has inadvertently created overcrowded classrooms. In such classrooms, increasing numbers of new students are constantly arriving. These new students frequently require much greater attention. This takes time away from the rest of the students, resulting in a disservice to all. Many students of these impacted schools score consistently lower on standardized tests. • During public hearings on this topic, over 90% of the participants expressed opposition to the sale of RDP. They consistently urged the City to keep this valuable community asset.To summarize, • A potential sale of Rancho Del Pueblo would not pay off directly related bonded indebtedness, nor would it pay off any bonded indebtedness from the other city-owned golf courses. • There would be no allowance for the revenue contribution to support additional City services in the future due to the sale and resultant loss of assets.
• The sale of City-owned land and/or of other assets would not substantially solve current and subsequent and potential budgetary deficits. • Sale of city assets would be short-sighted and would potentially limit future budget options due to a lack of revenue generating assets. • The City should explore other means of making golf courses more profitable, such as by raising green fees and snack bar prices and by restructured financing of city assets. • It is short-sighted for the City to base budgeting priorities on ways that negatively impact neighborhood priorities and quality of life issues, not taking into account “cuts” and “revenue generation" and how this affects the current and future issues and residential environment.Thus, it is the position of the Neighborhoods Commission that it is not in the overall benefitof City of San José and its residents to consider the sale of Rancho Del Pueblo Golf Courseany more than the sale of such non-revenue generating assets such as parks and libraries.The Rancho Del Pueblo Golf Course must be preserved for the benefit of present and futuregenerations.