NW REporter

California lawmakers considering bill to convert golf courses into housing

Legislators in California are considering a bill that would provide incentives to golf courses who want to convert their property into affordable housing. Upon clearing the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, Assembly Bill 1910 was sent to the Assembly Committee on Local Government.

According to an analysis of the bill, nearly 250 of California’s estimated 1,100 golf courses are owned by local governments. Based on an average size of 150 acres, analysts estimate the state’s municipally owned golf courses could yield 375,000 housing units at moderate density.

If enacted, the measure would establish a program providing grants to local agencies to convert locally owned golf courses into housing and public open space. The development must make 25% of new units affordable housing, with 15% of the project retained as public open space.

The bill’s author, Assembly member Cristina Garcia, told her colleagues the bill would provide another tool for the state to address the housing crisis in Southern California. She introduced similar legislation in 2021, but it failed to garner approval of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Critics called last year’s bill, AB 672, as “the very definition of legislative overreach.”

Among opponents of the reintroduced bill are members of several golf associations. They contend the bill “singles out” locally owned golf courses for development. Speaking on behalf of the California Alliance of Golf, Nick Bailey, vice president of the Northern California PGA section, said the bill would reduce green space in communities that already lack it. He also reminded lawmakers golf courses provide habitat, promote biodiversity and sequester carbon to the benefit of the surrounding community.