Letters to the Editor: Why that big L.A. golf course probably can’t be converted into housing

Geese feed in the grass as a golfer takes a shot at Balboa Golf Course in Van Nuys.
A golfer takes a shot at Balboa Golf Course in Van Nuys.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: With your editorial saying that it’s time to consider turning publicly owned golf courses into housing, you printed a photo showing Balboa Golf Course in Van Nuys.

This course is not a candidate to convert into housing. Neither is the Woodley Lakes, Encino or Hansen Dam municipal golf courses, all of which are managed by the city of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Specific to these four municipal golf courses, they are all located on land owned by the federal government, managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, inside dam basins.

Set aside the fact that the Army Corps has a 50-year contract with the city of Los Angeles to provide leisure recreation services in the Sepulveda and Hansen Dam basins, each basin has a variety of flood zone levels that would prohibit permanent residential housing anyway.


So, placing a picture of a golfer playing golf at one of these courses, implying that there is a possibility of housing at these locations, is disingenuous. Someone didn’t do their homework.

Charles Singer, North Hills

The writer is a retired superintendent of Recreation and Parks Operations for the city of Los Angeles.


To the editor: While your editorial rightly points out that municipal golf courses provide a reasonable price point for golfers, it’s estimated that only 8% of Americans actually golf while 48% of Americans struggle with housing costs.

Along with how much water is used to maintain courses in a state constantly challenged by drought, how can anyone beyond those who actually play golf oppose Assembly Bill 1910, which would make it earlier to convert municipal courses into housing?

Christopher Dye, San Diego



To the editor: Be careful what “conversation” you suggest opening. A conversation about developing parkland golf courses won’t stop there.

The 200 California golf courses that AB 1910 affects wouldn’t take up a fourth of the 155,000 acres we’ve set aside in the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. Developing some of that acreage would certainly mitigate much of our housing shortage.

It’s a stupid idea, but so is developing publicly owned golf courses.

Betty Brix, Santa Monica


To the editor: Younger adults, who regard golfing as expensive and slow, are disinclined to take up the sport. Already, the number of U.S. golf courses has declined about 11% over the last decade.

We Californians should be asking ourselves whether the average 150-acre golf course, with its thirst for scarce water, would be better used for new housing units that could shelter thousands of residents in prime urban locations where jobs are created.

New laws should not be restricted to public courses. Eminent domain would be well used to repurpose private courses too.


Richard Stanley, Los Feliz