Visitors say the restaurant is packed some days, and there are always a few people out on the course. But the financial strain felt by ValleyCrest Companies – current owner of the Glen Annie Golf Club – have caused them to consider options other than the current 18-hole course.
The most recent one – a plan to convert the 176-acre property into a nine-hole executive course surrounded by 190 homes and a promised group of soccer fields for community use – was rejected on Tuesday, June 16, when the Goleta City Council voted 3-2 not to initiate a study about potential annexation of the property by the City. The councilmembers voting against it – including the mayor – expressed concern about the project’s rezoning requirement, which went contrary to the city staff’s recommendation against adding additional housing at this time. “I’m having a hard time thinking we need to go forward with this at this time,” said councilmember Ed Easton, who, along with councilmember Margaret Connell and Mayor Roger Aceves, saw the project as a potential liability for the tight-budgeted city.
Although councilmembers Michael Bennett and Eric Onnen supported the project’s list of community benefits – soccer fields, 20 percent inclusionary housing, and a number of affordable-by-design units – public concern was raised at the council meeting about how the traffic generated by that number of units would affect the already busy intersection at Glen Annie and Cathedral Oaks Roads, which is often choked with cars from Dos Pueblos High School. Aside from annexation from Santa Barbara County by the City of Goleta and the Goleta Water and Sanitary Districts, the development would also require rezoning from its current agricultural designation, and an amendment to the city’s current General Plan.
For its part, Glen Annie Golf Club, experiencing financial distress due to lower-than-projected golfer turnout and an increasing $15 million debt, is running out of options. John Dewey, a ValleyCrest spokesman who spoke at the meeting, said earlier that the company has considered instituting private memberships as a possible solution to their money woes, but they found absent economic demand to be a compelling reason to discard the idea. The company had also attempted to sell the course to Goleta or the County to be used as a municipal course, but the $6 million price tag repelled any takers.
Although he said ValleyCrest had received a favorable response from the County and the Local Agency Formation Commission, the City of Goleta was the keystone to the deal that failed to materialize. Potential options for the company now include keeping the unprofitable course open or selling off the property as 40-acre agricultural parcels, but no firm decision has yet been made regarding the club’s future.