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Council to continue discussion regarding acquisition of Casta Del Sol Golf Course for community benefit on Oct. 8

casta del sol golf course

To preserve more than 100 acres of open space, the City Council is considering the acquisition of the Casta Del Sol golf course off Marguerite Parkway. On Tuesday, the City Council moved the discussion to October to allow for additional public input.

The vote comes after the Council on July 9 directed staff to evaluate the City’s interest in preserving the Casta Del Sol public golf course for public use by acquisition of the 65-acre facility. The course’s owner, American Golf Corporation (AGC), had recently put the property up for sale and accepted a $15 million offer from Irvine-based real estate firm PRES Companies. The firm then approached the City with an offer to assign rights to the purchase to the City of Mission Viejo before the AGC-PRES escrow terminated due to time limits. AGC then offered to sell the property directly to the City for $13 million.

Before considering the acquisition, City staff expended significant effort to explore the viability of the acquisition by hiring a consultant to perform a feasibility study; preparing three different financial projections; reviewing financial data and property conditions; and preparing analysis on financing options for the issuance of bonds. To fully understand the operations and financial costs, staff also visited other city-owned golf courses and researched water rights and usage at Casta Del Sol. The proposed purchase agreement includes an initial 3-year management agreement with American Golf Corporation to continue operating the Golf Course.

Because the City of Mission Viejo closed out Fiscal Year 18-19 with a $4.5 million surplus, the City can purchase the golf course with City reserves and still maintain a $21 million cash reserve balance. 

Designed in 1970, the Casta Del Sol course has long been a significant community-oriented property with an emphasis on benefiting the residents and guests of the Casta Del Sol development as well as the entire Mission Viejo community.

Listen to Tuesday night’s discussion here and read the staff report online. The City Council will continue discussions of the matter beginning at 6 pm on October 8.

Comments

Submitted by Bart Salamack on Wed, 09/25/2019 - 1:04 pm

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This could be a great opportunity for the city to develop a large municipal park for all citizens. Although we have baby athletic parks and the Oso Creek Trail, we do not have a large park for picnics and strolling. I’m not in favor of the city purchasing it if it intends to continue to manage the golf course.

Submitted by Aimee on Wed, 09/25/2019 - 1:32 pm

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Excellent idea to preserve open space and keep what little we have left from being developed into more houses. Instead of continuing it as a golf course, this is a good location for a regional park and trails and a good opportunity to try to bring back some native vegetation. We don’t need even more housing in the area!

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 09/25/2019 - 3:27 pm

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The open area of the golf course is important to the quality of life and property values of several current communities already that it makes perfect sense for the city to manage this space. It protects so many properties values, which in turn benefits EVERYONE’S property investments.

Submitted by Ingmar Forster on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 11:37 am

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Keep the golf course a golf course by zoning (ie., the city controls land use by zoning, so keep it zoned for open space, recreational, etc.). The city tax payers don't need to buy the golf course to keep it a golf course, just using zoning to control the land use. Let PRES buy it and maintain it as a golf course. If the city buys the course, at least $13 million in tax payer money will be tied up in one asset, which will continue to bleed the city of monies as the city over time creates more city employee positions to run/oversee the golf course. Also, if the city buys the golf course, then the city will lose the property taxes the course currently pays. At $13 million purchase price, that would equate to at least $130,000 a year in lost property tax revenue (on top of the waste of $13 million in purchase price, along with millions more to maintain or upgrade the facility in years to come).

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 5:29 pm

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Below were my written comments to the council in regards to the pending golf course purchase. Council Members Sachs stated that my comments were on their face, silly. What say you?

Please educate yourself and read the ALL the reports.

Purchase price is $13 million PLUS:
Price to rehab the golf course ONLY is $8 million;
Price to rehab immediate safety issues are $4-5 million.

The information from the council meetings are not designed to inform but to sway. Please review the July 9, the September 10 and 24th council meetings.

The $13 million purchase price is just half the story.

September 24, 2019
CdSGC
Item # 9

Good evening Mayor and Council Members. My name is CS of MV.

What can we trust or believe?

First we were told that the City always had a desire to purchase the golf course. But it was never a goal added to the budget. The City Council City turned down an opportuniy to purchase a part of the land in January 2015.

We were told that the City receives a lot of pressure to put housing on the gold course, but a response to my records request made to support that statement was "No applicable records on file."

And from the July 9 special meeting, to public comments made at the September 10 meeting, and comments from tonight's reports, there are conflicting statements on who asked whom to purchase the property.

And I am suspicious on where PRES went. Maybe they recoginzed a lemon and walked away. Is the City now left with holding the bag?

I hope the City Attorney ordered multiple appraisals. That is a good business practice. An appraisal is an opinion of value on a date certain. Brian Goodell should agree with me that it is always prudent to get multiple opinions of value.

Staff report is incomplete as it ignores portions of one of the reports that states for the full renovation of the golf course only, not including the needed clubhouse repairs, only the course, will take another $8 million on top of the purchase price of $13 million, plus another $4-5 million in needed safety repairs.

In one part of the staff report, it states $4 million are required for safety upgrades where in another part of the staff report it says $5 million of upgrades are needed.

Total cost of the purchase and upgrades of this golf course will wipe out our general fund reserves.

The report referenced needed repairs for ADA compliance. Those repairs and other public safety repairs need to be a priority.

20 year projections shows golf course will be operating in the red.

Have you reviewed the last 20 years worth of profit/loss statements ?

Is the golf course in such poor repair because it has been operating in the red?

Before this council votes yes to purchase - you better have a detailed report on the plan of action on how the golf course will be made to run in the black, the timeline, the money needed and where those funds are going to come from. There was a recommendation for a hotel with golf packages to make this a destination.

This golf course should remain in the private sector, as goverment has no idea how to run a business. It will become a money pit.

Submitted by Stuart on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 6:25 pm

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How many residents of MV will benefit from this as a golf course? How many more would benefit if it were a multi-use open space? The more taxpayers who can benefit from this, the better.

Submitted by Dee M on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 6:27 pm

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Golf is not a activity that many local residents participate in because of costs and time constraints. I love the idea of open space for other recreation like soccer, children's recreation, bike and running trails. Yes, to considering the purchase and what is best for all citizens of Mission Viejo not just for a few people.

Submitted by Donald Mansell on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 6:36 pm

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Please leave it private. Zoning dictates can keep it open land.
It places the maintenance cost on users and not the public.
If the owners are willing to sell it is a cinch they are loosing money.
Please don’t put burden on taxpayers.

Submitted by Linda Galloway on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 6:42 pm

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Casta Del Sol is a very nice golf course, and I have golfed there many times. In affluent Orange County, I feel it is very important to keep a reasonably-priced alternative available to seniors and those who wish to keep their expenses in line with their income. It would be a shame to eliminate such a great golf course. Additionally, I think that the restaurant could be modestly upgraded to provide an excellent, popular place to eat instead of what it is now - only open on Friday evenings. The City could make this a great, reasonably-priced place to eat including Happy Hour specials to make more profit and bring life to the Club House. Keep it a Golf Course!!!

Submitted by Dave Erickson on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 6:43 pm

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Strongly against developing this beautiful plot of land. We've played on the course for years, and last thing this area needs is more housing. Dont care who owns it as long as it remains open land.

Submitted by James and Jean… on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 6:50 pm

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I hope to hear about why it is being sold? What are the financial issues facing the city if we own a active golf course. Maybe lowering the fees for Mission viejo Residents to allow more use and locals to spend their golf money on Mission Viejo assets. Certainly a close look at the current owner and why they are selling? Did they make a profit? If not. Poor managment??? If that is so then maybe we should look for a new golf management company. Of course i believe accumulating property is always good for City assets.

Submitted by Mike Harrison on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 6:55 pm

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As a retired Partner in a CPA Firm and a Mission Viejo resident for 49 years who audited numerous cities with municipal golf courses I am in favor of the City acquiring the property from American Golf. The City should use a 3rd party like American golf to operate the facility. Casta Del Sol golf is an asset to property owners in Mission Viejo. City owned golf courses are generally subsidized by the general fund. The City has talented financial officials to analyze American Golf’s recent financials. Minimize the # of city employees assigned to golf course maintenance to minimize the general fund support. Let’s not build homes on the Casta Del Sol golf course.

Submitted by Stephanie Tanton on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 7:13 pm

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It would be a wonderful asset for the residents to make the the golf course a public park with bike and hiking trails.

Submitted by Ali Risman on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 7:26 pm

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I hope City of Mission Viejo would keep the golf course as public golf couse. This golf course and Lake Mission Viejo are the iconic simbol of beauty and seronity of this city and they should be kept unchanged. We should not allow to replace this beautiful golf course with more homes. We hope The City will make the right choice.

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 7:42 pm

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Most of the golf course sits in a valley below Lake Mission Viejo. How could housing actually be approved there? I doubt that is likely outcome if the property was sold to someone else.

Submitted by Dottie S. Lewis on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 8:04 pm

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I am all for keeping the golf course. I am not in favour of, "... the City staff expended significant effort to explore the viability of the acquisition by hiring a consultant to perform a feasibility study; preparing three different financial projections; reviewing financial data and property conditions; and preparing analysis on financing options for the issuance of bonds. outside firm to..." Save the monies that would be used to pay the consultants and use it toward the golf course. Can no one keep things simple these days??? We do NOT need anymore affordable housing... Just sayin'

Submitted by Michael Moore on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 8:14 pm

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NO housing !!! Please keep it as a park / open area / nature preserve . We need to keep it as a park everyone can enjoy, not just a lot of baseball fields, or dog parks, which limits who can use it.

Submitted by Mike Holstein on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 9:23 pm

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Our local Elks Lodge needs a larger facility with a secondary source of revenue (ie, public golf course). At the same time, it's current location is essential in the city's long term plan to create a city center.
Why can't they swap properties?
This would give the city a key piece of property to help create their city center, and the Elks Club a larger piece of property that could both be a lodge and continue as a public golf course.
Everyone wins!!!

Submitted by craig Owings on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 9:40 pm

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I have used the golf course a fair bit with my kids. It is a shorter course. I don’t think it NEEDS to be 18 holes. The front 9 are better in my opinion.

I don’t want to lose it entirely. If it goes away there is only Lake Forrest (which is pretty poor) or Tijeras Creek that is $100!!! Long Beach has a ton of affordable long courses and Mission Viejo can’t keep just one short course??!

I think a reasonable compromise is keeping the front 9 for golf and allow the back 9 to be a community park. Some people have mentioned a dog park. Part of it could be for each. We all get something we want. Plenty of space for a park for kids and a dog park on the back 9.

And. NOBODY in their right mind wants wall to wall housing ....with Gavin Newsome mandating 10% of the units for section 8 housing.

Submitted by Ali Risman on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 9:48 pm

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This golf course and the Lake Mission Viejo together are 2 iconic simbols of this great city. Please do not change it to more houses. It would rune this beautiful city.

Submitted by Jim on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 9:55 pm

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Make Casta Del Sol a nine hole course. Continue to use the front nine for Golf and use the land that is currently the back nine as a municipal park with picnic areas Etc. This plan preserves the golf course for the community and also provides revenue. The added park area on the current back nine area would be enjoyed by non-golfers. This idea provides the best of both worlds and should satisfy Owners of surrounding homes.

Submitted by Klara Daranyi on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 9:59 pm

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As homeowners in the Finisterra on the Green Condo Community we are very much in favor of keeping this area as open space, municipal park, bike/walking paths. Certainly we would be opposing any housing or commercial development. How wonderful it would be to connect the trails to the existing Oso Creek trail system!

Submitted by K on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 10:04 pm

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If the city will acquire it to make a large park for the residents ( like Central Park in NYC), i’m for it. If it’s used for anything else, forget it. Otherwise, that land should be solely used (whether publicly or privately) for low income housing. We have very little of that in this city and the waiting lists for them are ridiculous for the majority of us living on minimum wage. We need a combination of very high rise (but well landscaped) low income apartments, condos and houses in that area well served by frequent running busses there, then this city will be a lot nicer for those who live in the north.

Submitted by Jim on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 10:13 pm

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The best solution is to use the current front nine for golf which changes the course to a nine hole course. Then use the land currently used as the back nine of the golf course for a municipal park which can include picnic areas etc. The nine hole golf course will continue to provide revenue for the city and to provide a nice golf course for the community. Homeowners in the area would appreciate both the park and the golf course.

Submitted by Marillyn Brame on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 10:26 pm

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Buy it - keep it for a golf course. I personally do not play golf, but this course is used by a great many Mission Viejo residents. Allowing another entity to own this land could eventually find it sold and turned into another housing development which could even be high density - an event in a location that would most certainly negatively impact our city in the future.

Submitted by Janet Bui on Thu, 09/26/2019 - 11:59 pm

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Mission Viejo City should buy the property and keep it as a golf course center available for all residents. We already have a famous Nadadores swimming complex, and it was home for many olympians. If Mission Viejo has a golf center that has training program for kids and for retired that would be great. The city might produce many olympians in Golf in the future!. Overall, it's good to keep a green environment, to promote healthy activity, and to generate revenues for the city. Please do not build more HOUSES. I am waiting to enroll to a golf class.

Submitted by Hal Steele on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 5:21 am

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Complete the purchase. If the city can spend as much as it has on a swimming facility not usable by all residents, it can certainly buy this golf course and keep it as a golf course. Excess land behind the tennis facility can be used to expand parking there and also extend the Oso Creek Trail. A win/win all around.

Submitted by Robert Allen on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 6:24 am

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I don't understand how a company could propose to build homes below and earthen dam. It should be zoned to prevent this. Also, how did American Golf come to own the golf course? Weren't there any conditions on its ownership? These questions should be answered, because I do not believe that American Golf paid $13 million for it, and should not benefit with a windfall at the city's expense.

Submitted by Frances Aspinwall on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 6:59 am

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Please keep the open space - I’m not a golfer, but I surely am not happy with the idea of an Irvine developer building houses on it. Buy it and keep it open. Thanks.

Submitted by Alexander Paulsen on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 7:25 am

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The beauty and serenity of a golf course are irreplaceable, so please keep the open spaces.
We already have enough parks!!

Submitted by MK on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 7:47 am

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Keep the golf course.

We have enough parks and walking trails.

Open the golf and driving range to the public and let a new business(es) take over the club house. Let them upgrade with a decent restaurant/bar.
In addition, an outdoor sitting area with snack bar will pay for it and bring in revenue for city.

Submitted by Ed Tutton on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 7:56 am

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I am in favor of the purchase of the golf course but not the American Golf management portion
I am in favor of the purchase if the city is planning to bring the course and it's facilities to the standard of the Nadeadores and the Tennis Center now in place adjacent on Casta del Sol blvd.
I am in favor of the purchase if the city has performed the due diligence that enables them to understand the cost of refurbishing the course to a much higher standard than it presently experiences ,have taken the steps to entertain the
cost of refurbishment from several golf course design
companies, clearly understand the revenue, tax income versus maintenance cost impact on the city balance sheet.
I would be in favor of the purchase if it would entail a smaller course ie Lake Forest Center and a combination of single family homes to expand the design of the present Casta del Sol properties and green belt areas if again cost and tax revenues result in a positive impact on the city balance sheet.
American golf through it's business practices has let the major playable and facility areas deteriorate to an unacceptable condition ,,,ask any agronomist!
I am not in favor of any multi family residential complex ala Adagio on the Green and hope the city through zoning will take the steps to prevent any construction of this type

Respectfully

Submitted by John Lusk on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 8:04 am

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Speaking as a former city resident who still cares very much for the City of Mission Viejo I believe the prior comment concerning zoning restrictions is the best option to keep this as open space. Recreational golf on these very short courses is waning. As the generation of players ages the younger generation are not participating in this sport to justify spending $13 million.
Also, let's not forget that the property is a "watershed" designation. Since Alicia Parkway is the dam to Lake Mission Viejo.
I truly hope to see the golf course become a large multiuse regional park-like William Mason Park in Irvine.

Submitted by J. Hansen on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 9:59 am

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I am confident the City of Mission Viejo will thoroughly review the short-term and long-term costs/expenses of purchasing the Casta Del Sol Golf Course from Irvine-based real estate firm PRES Companies. I personally know of numerous cities profitably owning golf courses; e.g., Long Beach, Lakewood, Downey, etc.
Having said that, the golf course has become an important part of the community in Mission Viejo. It has helped maintain and/or increase property values, it has been the center for numerous non-profit fundraisers, paying patrons continue to make this choice a very logical one, and the golf course for local entertainment and exercise is invaluable. The City has done a great job providing parks and open space; but, let's not go backwards and let this slip away from the City.

Submitted by Linda Shepard on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 10:03 am

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I am for keeping this an 18 hole golf course. I believe an affordable golf course is appropriate for the city. It is great for families, youth learning to play, school golf teams, and seniors.

Mission Viejo already has a dog park. One is enough.

Mission Viejo has plenty of parks and paths that are in excellent condition and used by residents for jogging, walking, biking, and picnics. There are fewer children in Mission Viejo now than 10 years ago, I do not see the need for more ball fields for youth (and I like baseball and soccer). Use and maintain what we have.

The renovations of the 18 holes golf course do not have to bring this up to a premier course. Speaking with the groundskeepers the last time I golfed, there are a few areas which have always been troublesome to keep green and in good shape. No sense wasting money trying to fix those areas again and again.

I like the idea of improving the club restaurant. Maybe even the Elks Club building swap deserves consideration. I also like the idea of a 3rd party management group with minimal new City staff and running the course like a business.

There is a resident of MV who is a retired executive from the golf industry. Her job was to make struggling courses profitable. Her name is Kimberly Bower. She currently manages several programs at St. Kilian Church.

Submitted by DONALD LEAVEY on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 11:46 am

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There are so few reasonably affordable golf courses in Orange County. The
city would do recreational golfers throughout the county a huge favor by
proceeding with this purchase. Developers of the Great Park (Irvine) originally
promised at least two (possibly three) golf courses. They already had one in place with the old Navy Base golf course. Now there are none on the drawing board. . . . .surprise, surprise!

Submitted by Robert Stalter on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 11:46 am

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While a city-sponsored feasibility study might be costly, it is imperative citizens know the likely cost to make an informed decision how to handle the property. There are many good ideas being proposed which should be considered only after the completion of the study.

With over 30 parks already throughout the city, I favor its use as a golf course for a variety of reasons:

The course is an asset to the area, not to the city alone. Having a one-of-a-kind golf course will attract nearby city's players to our city.

Currently it represents the ONLY truly Orange County executive golf course.

Golf represents the City's senior population by offering a local resource for their exercise and health.

It is close to other City Landmarks, the Natadores and Tennis facilities. All are testaments to our city's dedication as a civic sports sponsor of the highest caliber.

It is a unique advertisement as an athletic venue in conjunction with these city-sponsored tennis and swimming facilities.

It is the home location for at least two men's golf clubs, Saddleback Valley and Casta del Sol organizations, and lady's organizations.

It is currently a resource for our school's athletic programs
such as both Citywide JV and surrounding city's Golf teams

The location is nearby Lake Mission Viejo and and is surrounded by multiple nearby parks. A treasured landmark already architecturally designed to highlight the naturally beauty of the area.

The course would preserve home values and fulfill home owner's original buying choices to have a course totally available to them as well as the public, without restrictive requirements or memberships; something; not available in any nearby city.

Let us not lose this treasure!

Submitted by David Shisler on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 11:50 am

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There are things that could make the course more profitable like a lit driving range that could open as the it becomes too dark play a round, it would bring in those that want to practice their driving, or a lighted six hole walking course for after normal hours. In other words something to do on those hot nights when the sun is down and normal play ends, Lighting should not interfere with neighbors and with extended hours the course will be more profitable. Actually if it is owned by the city all it needs to do is pay for itself.

Submitted by David Shisler on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 12:01 pm

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There are things that can make the golf course more profitable like after normal play hours because of darkness have a lit driving range until around 10 pm, or a six hole walking lit course. This would be great for those hot summer nights. This could be done with little or no effects to surrounding neighbors. Being owned by the city would mean the course would only need to pay for itself, the city doesn't need to make a profit as with an investor.

Submitted by Tom Pekar on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 12:34 pm

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We have many parks , ballfields , the lake ect… This is a great executive course for both seniors and those who cannot afford or manage the bigger courses.Keeping it is the only smart decision but given to politicians or committees they can not see outside themselves.

Submitted by Eugene Schmitt on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 1:48 pm

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I think the majority of Mission Viejo residents would agree, no more houses. One issue with more homes is more traffic already on our overloaded streets.
.Would the city be open to the lawsuits from all the homes that paid extra for their golf course view?
.How can we justify not purchasing this land when we spent over $3,000,000 on a float for the Rose Parade.
.Would New York City consider selling Central Park to developers? Keep the open space. The city can decide in the future to have a golf course or park.
.

Submitted by Bruce and Kaye Way on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 3:09 pm

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Please leave it as a golf course. It's the only public golf course in the area. A lot of people play golf in the area. We already have a lot of parks through out the community. We have the Lake park where you can bbq and picnic. Huge park behind the Senior Center. You open it to a public park, you will not only bring people from outside the community, it will be noisy in the summer months. The townhouses, condos and houses that back onto the golf course, will loose their quietness and value.

Submitted by Brenda & Paul … on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 4:11 pm

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We both feel that keeping it an 18 holes gold course is best and agree that turning the club house into a great restaurant with maybe an area people can use for large parties or weddings would serve the city best.
There are plenty of parks,school fields and walking trails open for public use but a golf course would work great for the city.

Submitted by Paul T. Rudewicz on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 5:00 pm

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Mission Viejo should keep it as a golf course. If purchasing it is the only way, let's do that. We don't need more housing and should preserve that open area within Casta del Sol. It is after all the only remaining public gold course that doesn't cost a fortune to play.

Submitted by Anne Watts on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 5:10 pm

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California has already destroyed itself with an over abundance of unaffordable housing for man and the good of all living creatures, devastated our orange groves and strawberry fields, condeming animals (who now have no habitats) giving money-grubbing developers our lands, who have obliterated the nature God created and intended for us when he created this Earth.
Man and the greedy developers in California have blasphemed the laws of God! Please keep our spaces open which our Saviour has given us, in accordance with what He designated.

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