DeBell’s management structure scrutinized as city ponders revamp

As city officials take up the process of revamping the financially strapped DeBell Golf Club, they have so far declined to say whether they favor a recommendation to overhaul a management structure that was called inefficient by an outside consultant.

The recommendation from the National Golf Foundation comes as two of the three main operators at the municipal golf course could soon be on month-to-month contracts, making a change easier to make.

In the draft report, Burbank officials were encouraged to consider consolidating management under one operator — a move that would reduce overhead and improve the economic performance of the club, according to the draft report.

The golf oversight committee, which met to discuss the recommendations on Wednesday, steered clear of the management issue, but it has lingered over the entire process ever since city parks officials acknowledged that the course had been losing about $300,000 annually in recent years. The news caught the City Council off guard and prompted an unpopular $2-million rescue package and a fresh round of oversight.


While it’s easy to look back and point at problems, Mayor Jess Talamantes said, he conceded that there were still unanswered questions about why the City Council didn’t know sooner that the course was so far into the red.

“It’s a perfect time to re-evaluate,” Talamantes said before the meeting on Wednesday. “Hopefully, there will be some changes once the recommendations are put in place, changes to the oversight of the course.”

Valley Crest Golf Course Maintenance oversees landscaping, Scott Scozzola of S.S. Golf runs the golf course, and Ray and Shelly Lucero operate the Clubhouse Grill. Scozzola is already on a monthly contract, and Valley Crest could be heading that way when its contract ends Feb. 28.

The contract with the Clubhouse Grill expires Dec. 2013.


In the meantime, committee members will review a slate of other recommendations for improving the course and making it more attractive to golfers, including better signage and changes to food service, lighting and landscaping.

Talamantes also said he wanted to hear City Manager Mike Flad’s recommendations on oversight of the course. Flad oversees the parks and recreation department, which manages the golf course. Parks Director Chris Daste publicly apologized for the problems at DeBell when they came to light last year.

Talamantes — who with Councilman Dave Golonski sits on the golf subcommittee — said streamlining operations and cutting costs at the course was “worth a consideration, no question about it.”

“It’s a lot of money,” he said.

The draft report is available on the city’s website, through a link on the Golf Fund Oversight Committee Jan. 11 agenda.