SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A citizens group that came out of the recent Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club closure, held its first meeting at Highland Ranch Park Wednesday evening. Hundreds of people brought their lawn chairs and umbrellas to find out what may become of the empty golf course that laces in and out of the community.
10News went into Troy Daum’s backyard, which sits along the former golf course.
“Well, this was all green grass,” Daum pointed at the dirt behind his home.
Since the course shut down July 8, 2018 his view has gotten progressively worse. Daum is one of more than 2,000 Carmel Mountain Ranch residents who now live by a potential fire hazard and unsightly fencing blocking off the once treasured community asset.
Club owner, Kevin Hwang told 10News that the golf course was un-profitable business, which cost more than $1 million a year to water the green. Despite the club’s popularity, because of operation costs, the business was losing money. Since then, all the golf cart entrances in the community have been fenced off.
“What we’re trying to say to the owner is, at least water the trees. Keep the drip irrigation going. Keep the property beautiful. And don’t barricade it up with prison-like fences. Because that makes everybody mad,” Daum said.
According to the residents, Hwang wants to sell the golf course to a developer. A future developer could potentially change the zoning area from “agricultural” to “residential.” This means the open space could become packed with dense development — something current residents do not support. So Daum started the citizens group, “Development opposition committee,” to brainstorm.
“We’d be fully supportive of exploring other uses such as a winery, walking trails, parks,” Daum said.
But first, they need the city of San Diego to re-activate the Carmel Mountain Ranch Planning Board— the neighborhood body that makes official building and planning recommendations to the city. The city of San Diego de-activated the local authority a few months ago, due to several years of lack of interest. But this was before the closure of the golf course. Now, there are hundreds of residents who want to volunteer to be a part of the committee.
“It gives us an extra layer of security because without the community council, it’s just the city planning department and the city council deciding things for Carmel Mountain Ranch,” Eric Edelman, Chairman of the Carmel Mountain Ranch Planning Board, said.
“It’s private property yes, but the whole community was designed around the golf course, and we should be involved in that discussion of what the future looks like,” Daum said.
Many who attended the Wednesday meeting are hoping the future looks like a vineyard. One resident even dressed up in a grape costume, holding a sign that read “Make Wine, Not Weedz!”
“The best grapes in California are dry-farmed. There is no water, and it’s a great use of property without lots of caring costs for water, unlike a golf course,” Daum suggested.
The city of San Diego is now drafting an amendment in their bylaws to re-active the Carmel Mountain Ranch Planning Board. Once that is complete, the committee can hold a special election to select board members as early as mid-September.