Sierra Club on the Proposed Funding of Mission Bay Golf Course Projects in the 2021 City Budget

By George Courser and Dr. Peter Andersen

Councilmembers and Staff,

Sierra Club San Diego is obligated to bring to your attention the proposed budget items (sparsely) outlined on pages 114 and 115 of the Fiscal Year 2021 Capital Improvement Budget.

Here we find two unfortunate examples of the City of San Diego financially underwriting the golf industry, while across California and San Diego County golf courses are rapidly being closed and repurposed, primarily because of the precipitous drop in golf popularity and associated enormous costs of ongoing operations. The use of potable water for turf is, in itself, enough reason for halting consideration of these substantial expenditures.

Sierra Club San Diego’s 15,000 members are both taxpayers and stewards of the environment. We find the subsidy of a golf operation on environmentally valuable bayside City property to be antithetical to proper long-term planning as well as resource utilization.

A particularly egregious (and decades-long practice) has been the use of potable water to irrigate the golf course turf. The quantity and retail value of taxpayer subsidized drinking water utilized for irrigation should act as a primary consideration in removing these items for consideration in the 2021 City Budget. Below are examples of further spending of $10,923,816 on a dying game with ongoing enormous costs and use of potable water.

Most unfortunately, the City’s commitment to ReWild Mission Bay is entirely neglected, while the antiquated and expensive golf course operation is instead budgeted. The golf course funding could easily be revamped to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the golf course property as location for the Wildest wetland restoration plan for northeast Mission Bay.

Please recall that this Wildest option was requested by five of the nine city councilmembers earlier this year. Sierra Club urges our City Councilmenbers to advance the clearly environmentally superior Wildest option while rejecting the nearly $11,000,000 expense in an attempt to resurrect a sport whose popularity has long past.

Please find the two budget items below.

Page 114 – $6,463,816 of the budget is for demolition.

Expenditure by Funding Source Fund Name Fund No Exp/Enc Con Appn FY 2021 FY 2021 Anticipated FY 2022 FY 2023 FY 2024 FY 2025 Future FY Unidentified Funding Project Total Mission Bay Golf Course CIP Fund 700046 $ 706,868 $ 3,693,131 $ 2,063,816 $ 6,463,816
Parks & Recreation MB GC Clubhouse Demo/Prtbl Building Instl / S01090 Golf Courses
Council District: 2
Priority Score: 60
Community Planning: Mission Bay Park Priority
Category: High
Project Status: Continuing
Contact Information: Kevin Oliver (619) 533-5139, koliver@sandiego.gov
Duration: 2013 – 2023
Improvement Type: Betterment
Description: This project provides for the demolition of the existing, antiquated practice center and clubhouse buildings, and installation of modular buildings and portables at the Mission Bay Golf Course until such time as the new clubhouse is constructed. One modular building will house the golf operations and retail shop and the other will be a bar and grill element. This project will also include ancillary site improvements including patio area, lighting, shade element, island renovation including replacing two pedestrian bridges, perimeter lighting, and landscaping. Justification: These improvements are necessary to comply with current codes, address maintenance needs, and increase the viability of identifying potential future lessees.
Operating Budget Impact: None.
Relationship to General and Community Plans: This project is consistent with the Mission Bay Park Master Plan and is in conformance with the City’s General Plan.
Schedule: Design for the modular building and portables began in Fiscal Year 2017 and is anticipated to be completed in Fiscal Year 2020. Construction is anticipated to begin in Fiscal Year 2021 and to be completed in Fiscal Year 2022.
Summary of Project Changes: $2,063,816 in Mission Bay Golf Course CIP Fund is requested to be added to this project in Fiscal Year 2021.

Page 115 – $4,460,000 replaces antiquated mechanical system.

Expenditure by Funding Source Fund Name Fund No Exp/Enc Con Appn FY 2021 FY 2021 Anticipated FY 2022 FY 2023 FY 2024 FY 2025 Future FY Unidentified Funding Project Total Mission Bay Golf Course CIP Fund 700046 $ 709,807 $ 3,750,192 $ 4,460,000
Description: This project provides for the design and construction of various improvements within Mission Bay Golf Course. Work will include renovation and reconstruction of the existing course and may consist of new landscaping, irrigation, upgraded electrical, and drainage improvements. Justification: This project is needed to provide the long-awaited improvements to the 18-hole golf course. For example, the new computerized irrigation system will replace a system that is outdated, inefficient, and does not meet current or future water restriction requirements. These improvements will help bring the golf course within industry standards for municipal golf courses.
Operating Budget Impact: None.
Relationship to General and Community Plans: This project is consistent with the Mission Bay Park Master Plan and is in conformance with the City’s General Plan.
Schedule: Design will be completed in Fiscal Year 2020. Construction is scheduled to begin in Fiscal Year 2021 and is anticipated to be completed in Fiscal Year 2022.

George Courser serves as the chair of the San Diego Sierra Club conservation Committee. Dr. Peter Andersen serves as the conservation committee vice chair.