Developers Eye Goat Hill Golf Course In Oceanside
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Aired 8/23/12 on KPBS News.
One of the sites the Chargers rejected for a new stadium in North County has attracted the attention of developers, but proposals to build a world class action sports complex on the Goat Hill Golf Course in Oceanside is proving controversial with residents.
Goat Hill Golf Course sits strategically on Interstate 5 between San Diego and Los Angeles. In spite of its ocean views, the city-owned course is little patronized, and the city doesn’t have the money to keep it green.
The 70-acre course breaks even financially but it is a prime piece of property that is not earning the cash strapped city any revenue. The Chargers studied the site in 2007 but decided it was too small for a football stadium.
Byron Wear, a former San Diego city councilman, spoke for Pacific Coast Village, one of two developers who proposed building a village of commercial and recreational facilities on the golf course.
“If Oceanside decides to change the use of the golf course,” he told the city council, “it should be grand and world class.”
A second developer, Stirling, suggested an action sports facility with zip lines, snow and skate boarding, rock wall climbing and other new, emerging sports. The plan would include community gardens, a central marketplace and classes to teach healthy cooking and digital media. Both plans promised to create jobs, both would involve residential as well as commercial development.
But every Oceanside resident who spoke at the meeting opposed the idea of developing even part of the property commercially. They objected to the plan of expanding the property to 90 acres by relocating the Little League fields, the Girls and Boys Club and a Senior Center.
Janet Bledsoe Lacey protested that the golf course was dedicated for recreational use. Her father led the initiative in 1970 that required a public vote if its use is changed.
“Once you sell it, pave it, it is gone,” she said.
The city would prefer not to sell but lease the land. But the developers said getting financing for the project could be difficult on leased land.
Two other proposals would invest in improving the golf course. They would renovate the clubhouse and include community gardens.
City councilwoman Esther Sanchez supported that idea, but Mayor Jim Wood said the city needs recreational facilities that appeal to a wider section of the population. Other council members questioned if golf may be on the decline, while the cost of water is on the rise.
The meeting closed without a council vote, and a request for staff to come back with details on how far the site could be developed without going to a public vote.
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