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Discussion regarding preserving 108 acres of open space via golf course acquisition continues on Oct. 14

Casta del Sol Golf Course

The Mission Viejo City Council on Tuesday continued discussion regarding the potential acquisition of the Casta Del Sol public golf course to preserve more than 100 acres of open space in the heart of the City to Monday, October 14. 

This second continuation of the matter will give the Council and public more time to consider the acquisition, which would provide the community with convenient access to trails, multiple facilities and a one-of-a-kind walking and biking amenity (see a map of the connectivity here).

The meeting starts at 6 pm in the Council Chamber at 200 Civic Center.

Comments

Submitted by Kraif Erickson on Wed, 10/09/2019 - 4:39 pm

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I support the City buying the property and converting it to open space allowing the Oso Trail, as the heart-of-the-City, to connect the Lake to the Civic Center area. This would be truly amazing! And I do agree that it is an opportunity that the City cannot pass on. 

However, I am concerned about the potential funding impact on other planned City projects. This past year, the Community Services Commission (CSC) prioritized a list of recommended projects that need funding first. Per the CSC recommendations and Council approval, “this list will be used when preparing the 2019-2021 budget and when (if any) additional funding becomes available for these CIP projects.” While this list has more than $15M+ in projects, any available surplus funds go to these proposed projects first. See Council meetings from April 2019 in regards to the list and promises made by both the CSC and Council on appropriations of surplus funds. In addition, dipping into City reserves would ultimately delay these other projects indefinitely while funds are tied up in the Casta Del Sol open space development and any surplus to recover the reserve level. If I recall correctly, the Council has typically been against dipping into reserve monies, in particular for the noted CSC projects. 

While I am for preserving the area as open space, at what cost does it come and impact to other City planned projects? I hope the Council can find a way to keep their promise for surplus funds to go towards planned projects first.

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 4:54 pm

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Dear Mayor and Council:

Yesterday I forwarded to you a list for a Scope of Work and Tasks from 2008 that were performed as part of a due diligence effort on the potential purchase of the Casta del Sol Golf Course by a previous Council. Trish Kelley was on the council at that time. Bill Curley was the city attorney and Dennis Wilberg was the city manager.

In good conscience, can you state that this Council has done the same due diligence effort to justify a purchase of this property in today's world?

Has there been any appraisals done on this property? At minimum, there should have been at least two appraisals done.

As he is a real estate agent, I am sure that Brian Goodell would agree. Heck, the city attorney should also agree that appraisals are an essential tool in determining the property’s fair market value.

You cannot afford to be wrong about the value of this property.

Did the appraisals take into account that the course is in a flood zone?

What approach was used? Or was a combination of Income, Cost, Sales Comparisons used?

Was it appraised as a business or open space?

The “deferred maintenance” on this property is more than significant. In fact, it is detrimental and has significantly devalued both the business and the land.

Onto another concern: Future Budgets

Has Cheryl Dyas created a potential view of the Master Financial Plan (MFP)?

By taking the Reserves down to $21 million, will that fast forwarded the budget to fiscal year 2023/24? Please refer to the attached graph “Reserves of General Fund Revenues.” (page 265)

Please note that the fiscal year following the projections on that graph show reserves at $17.1 million.

Has there been an analysis on what our expected reserves will be in the next fiscal year, or the next budget cycle?

Let me quote from the September 24, 2019 Staff Report: “It should be noted that neither projection produces enough net income over the 20 year projection to restore the General Fund cash reserves to current levels if these funds are used to purchase the golf property. In addition both projections show years with negative net income. In these years the General Fund will be required to subsidize operations of the golf property.”

It is projected that the annual subsidy will be $1.3 million and will increase each year.

The second attachment (page 263) is another graph from the MFP that projects a sharp increase in expenditures over revenue. Revenue is falling below and not keeping pace with escalating expenditures.

It is extremely important that the Council and the public be aware that expenditures will be greatly increasing because of the purchase of the golf course and that our revenue projection is decreasing.

The third attachment (page 259) is the Operating Expenditures by Department graph. As a contingency plan, have you considered where you are going to make the necessary budget cuts to maintain the City’s operations?

Has anyone done any kind of an analysis on how this purchase will affect future operating costs?

To quote from page 263 of the 2019-21 Financial Master Plan: “Given the revenue and expenditure projections..., draws against reserves will be needed to fund ongoing expenditures and balance the budget if the City where to keep our programs and services at current levels.”

Page 264: “ The City’s reserves are intended to provide a substantial cushion for absorbing unforeseen events. These reserves are an essential first line of defense against unexpected economic emergencies or natural disaster.”

Page 251 of the MFP states: "This long range forecasting model is an integral part of the City's budget process... The MFP allows for a deeper analysis of how past and current spending decisions will affect future operating costs."

Without knowing the answers to these concerns it would be fiscal mismanagement that could take away the bright future that is Mission Viejo.

Sincerely, cathy

link to Budget/MFP

Submitted by Charlotte Freeman on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 6:22 pm

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After attending the original city council meeting that took public comment, I have played Casa del Sol Golf Course several times. I was surprised to see how it seems to be always busy with a lot of seniors, a lot of seniors who are walking the golf course. Reasonably priced Golf and an Activity that seniors can do? That's a win-win. There seems to be plenty of bike trails, walking trails, and parks now existing in the city. Let's keep the golf course if we can.

Submitted by Luz Bayer on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 8:20 pm

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I would love to see he City buying this property and making it an extension of Oso trial and a green belt. Please do so!!!!

Submitted by David Shisler on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 11:54 pm

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If the city doesn't buy this golf course what will happen to it? Will it be something that benefits the city and it's citizens or will it take away something that was special? Once gone will we consider it a lost for the city? I would like to see a driving range, and maybe a lite night six or nine hole walking course for after day light hours. An investor needs and wants to make a profit, the city only needs for it to pay for itself.

Submitted by alex paulsen on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 8:41 am

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We already have enough parks in Mission Viejo and surrounding areas. Keep the golf course. It is a serene landscape lending itself to a peaceful ambiance unlike having another place with a lot of noise issues...

Thanks

Submitted by Brenda Le Chevalier on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 9:52 am

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We are all for the city buying the golf course and keeping it as one, it is always crowded and used and people of all ages are using it, including the Casta Del Sol retirees and the schools golf team.
For sure it needs some TLC and a better club house but we believe it can make money for the city and ads to its reputation as a well rounded city.

Submitted by Clay Renfro on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 10:39 am

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re: Submitted by Kraif Erickson on Wed, 10/09/2019 - 4:39 pm
I support the City buying…

Delays of CIP planned projects need to be seen as temporary situations, as would any reduction of City reserves. On the other hand, multiple housing units on the Casta del Sol site would be a permanent situation and in my opinion a blight on the area, not to mention the added vehicle traffic. We need to take a long-term view of this opportunity.

Submitted by Merle C and Di… on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 2:48 pm

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I encourage the city to buy the golf course and maintain it as a city course. We have many parks in Mission Viejo and the wonderful Oso Trail. Casta del Sol is a perfect course for retired people, of which I am one. It is an executive course that can be played within three hours and it is affordable. Please don't take our course away.

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 4:15 pm

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Not a single Press Release from the city has guided its readers with a direct link to the consultants report.

How is the city going to make this a successful purchase without having any available funding for the costly, immediate and extensive health and safety repairs that were noted in the consultants report?

If everybody is just relying on information solely from listening to the council meetings, those meetings have been a charade, a dog and pony show. No one is talking about the deteriorated and expensive conditions as noted in the consultants report.

No one is talking about the staff report projections requiring an annual subsidy beginning at $1.3 million and an MFP that demonstrates revenue is not keeping up with expenditures.

Since the reserves will be spent down to $21 million, that only leaves available a slim $6 million, as $15 million is the bare minimum reserve required to run the City. We have a $70 million budget, and since money rolls and rolls out, the $15 million minimum is required for the ups and downs of revenue generation.

Maybe the city should put this on the March 2020 primary ballot.

Like most everyone else, I want to save the golf course. But with the make-up of our council and the lack of viable information, how are they going to do it ? Will there be some sort of “dwellings” built in the southern part of the property.

Will a portion of the land be carved out for a "lodge" and sold to raise the needed funding for the over $20 million in prevailing wage rate repairs and rehabilitation?

Submitted by Anthony & Joyce Elia on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 5:14 pm

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We believe the City should make sure it has received a minimum of three independent appraisals of the property's value (due to the amount of serious, expensive repairs required, it should probably be considered 'raw land'). It is irresponsible for the City to rely on the value placed on the property by the seller. This is not a purchase that should be rushed into since it will have long-term financial impacts on the City's reserves for many years in the future. Costs for City services escalate every year (sheriff, staff, pensions). Depleting the City's reserves in these uncertain financial times is not fiscally sound. Before moving forward, at the minimum, let's make sure the purchase price reflects the property's true value, not merely a justification for the City to 'maintain ownership' to avoid possible re-zoning in the future.

Submitted by Robert Williams on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 6:01 pm

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I heard the city Of Mission Viejo was founded on the basics of an enjoyable place to live and that it was a benefit to everyone.
Tear down something like the golf course that has for many years been an enjoyment and a pleasure to not only play, but a beautiful layout pleasing to everyone’s eyes. Sure we could have beautiful condos and town homes there. There are also walking trails all over the city. One just has to open their eyes.
Sometimes something has to be done to keep the city alive and a pleasure and benefit in which to live.
The reports say that the golf course is loosing money. What are the facts. I have not heard this. Right management I believe could pay for itself.

Submitted by ingmar forster on Fri, 10/11/2019 - 7:48 pm

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Don't buy the golf course, 2 separate financial analyses included in the city's information packet show it losing money every year after 4 years, not including the millions in required facility repairs and renovations. It will never make the profit required to cover its purchase, never mind the additional millions in needed repairs. Where are the appraisals of value for the property justifying the purchase price? The course is on the FEMA flood zone map, housing couldn't be built there no matter who owns the property. With no appraisals presented to the public, the land residing in a FEMA identified flood zone area, two separate financial analyses showing years of financial losses- this deal looks like a rush job being pushed onto an unsuspecting city taxpayer.

Submitted by G. Goodall on Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:28 am

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Please proceed with buying the Golf Course. Open land is at a premium and adds to the beauty of our city. This golf course is one of the few affordable and easily accessible courses to the many seniors who live nearby even if were just kept as a 9 hole course. It would be terrible if this land became housing or another un-neccessary strip mall. The City shouldn't pass up this opportunity.

Submitted by Robert Lee on Mon, 10/14/2019 - 2:52 pm

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Being in Real Estate Private Equity, I can attest to what great open green space can do to enhance the real estate values and the overall desirability and quality of life for all residents of a community. We leave across from the lake now, have been here for 2 years and believe this would be an amazing ammenity for the city and our community that could rival laguna Niguel and the great park in some ways.

Submitted by Robert Lee on Mon, 10/14/2019 - 2:57 pm

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Another solution of the golf course would be to create a conservation easement-which would allow investors to gain a significant tax deduction to fund the purchase. With proper planning and a P3 type of investment structure, both the city and private investors could create a win/win here.

Submitted by Bri6Sun on Fri, 10/18/2019 - 12:11 pm

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So the residents need to support the purchase of the Casa Del Sol Golf Course to improve walking trails and connect with Jeronimo Opens Space? What is wrong with our sidewalks? What multiple facilities? As Charlotte stated: We are going to take our reserves down to $6 million and neither projections will produce enough net income to replenish the reserves over a 20 year period. This project will need to be continually subsidized. Speaking of subsidizing....add on the new bond that residents of Mission Viejo will asked to approve on the Nov 2020 ballet..which includes building a new school for Baker Ranch/Lake Forest. Subsidize a golf course and build new schools for other cities. No should be your answer!

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