Opinion

The “Sky is Falling” scenario which projects huge losses in property value when a golf course goes into bankruptcy may be true in some areas of the country where golf is the primary focus of most community social and athletic activity, but clearly, that is not the case in Oakmont.

I’m sorry to see that our BOD president, Steve Spanier, seems to have succumbed to this scare tactic. We have already seen the loss of two Sonoma County golf courses, Wikiup and Adobe Creek. There is no evidence that the property values fell precipitously in the nearby neighborhoods as a result.

There is little doubt that people would continue to choose Oakmont as a desirable place to live even without the golf courses. IMO ever escalating dues will place a far greater burden on Oakmont property values than the loss of the golf courses. Prospective new residents may be put off by the extremely high OVA dues and debt burden. Why not buy a better home in Skyhawk or in the Spring Lake neighborhoods instead of paying exorbitant dues for facilities you don’t use?

World class restaurants, wineries, and scenic parks for hiking, walking and cycling all make Oakmont a desirable place to live with our without the golf courses. The Voices of Oakmont Survey Report gives a clear picture of residents’ attitudes towards the golf courses. Residents chose Oakmont for any number of reasons. On page 45 there is a list of 13 Oakmont Features ranked by importance. Golf Courses scored last with only 17% of respondents saying they were “very important” and 56% percent (a majority) replying they were not important at all. In contrast 65% found single level homes “very important” and only 6% said they are not important. Comparatively few residents play golf, and only a few chose Oakmont because of the golf courses.

Many of us who live far from the golf courses seldom see them. We are “trespassers” if we choose to walk on them. Only paid golfers are allowed. Because of the way Oakmont was built, with both golf courses surrounded almost entirely by homes, the golf courses can only be glimpsed between homes as we drive around in our community. Anyone can see a great deal more open space driving along Highway 12. In contrast the Mayacamas mountains and forests of Annadel can be seen from many locations in our community and make it the very scenic and beautiful community that it is. I would probably not even know if the golf courses closed if I didn’t read it on Nextdoor or in the Oakmont News.

Recent evidence that the golf courses are not terribly important to most current Oakmont residents was shown by the failed campaign to get residents to join the OGC with supporting memberships for only $20 a month. It is understandable that those who live far from the golf courses and seldom see them would not want to join the Valley Residents Program. They have no access nor view. But what about those who live adjacent to the golf course and enjoy the views of open space every day from their patios and decks? And what about golfers who want to retain two golf courses? Most people are willing to support charities and organizations that they value. Perhaps many of those who live adjacent to and near the golf courses would prefer minimally maintained open space instead of manicured, heavily fertilized, golf courses Quail, deer, and much other wildlife would benefit! Many of us believe that continuing to draw on the precious Sonoma ground water to “keep the grass green” cannot be justified when the carefully manicured golf courses are appreciated by so few residents.

Golf is simply not as popular as it once was. I believe our BOD should give a firm “NO” , to the idea of OVA buying the OGC. Perhaps, an outside golf course corporation will find the Quail Inn and golf courses attractive enough to pay off the OGC’s debt. It is unfair to the vast majority of residents to tie this albatross around our necks without allowing a vote of the membership.

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