Bill would give cities money to convert municipal golf courses into affordable housing • Long Beach Post News

Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) reintroduced Assembly Bill 1910 in Sacramento on February 9. If passed, it would provide grants to cities that decide to reallocate their municipal golf courses. Garcia requested that $50 million be allocated from the state budget each year for three years to fund the bill.

The exact dollar amount towns could receive for converting their golf courses has yet to be determined, but the funds would be distributed by the Department of Housing and Community Development and based on the number of affordable units in construction course.

“Studies show that low-income communities and communities of color lack access to open spaces and lack housing security,” Garcia tweeted. “#AB1910 will eliminate both of these injustices to help ensure everyone is safely housed AND has open space to recreate.”

To receive grant funding, any planned development would have to set aside 25% of the units for low-income households. The bill also requires that at least 15% of any development be open space accessible to the public (any area still used for golf does not count), including parks, sports fields, playgrounds and trails. According to the bill, no more than a third of the remaining area may be devoted to non-residential use; under the conditions of AB 1910, parking is considered non-residential.

How the matching grant money is spent will depend on each city that signs on, with the intention that it prioritizes building affordable housing and open space.

Of the 921 golf courses in California, about 22% are municipally owned, according to Garcia’s office. Long Beach has five public golf courses located within three miles of each other; all are in East Long Beach where housing prices have skyrocketed, like the rest of the city.

Since the bill requires cities to register to receive the funding, it’s unclear whether Long Beach would be interested in participating in the program.

A map showing Long Beach’s parks and open spaces, including golf courses.

Garcia hopes that, if passed, the implementation of AB 1910 will be community-led and used to create spaces that every community in California needs. In dense areas like Bell Gardens, for example, there isn’t much room to create open space or affordable housing elsewhere, the MP said.

“We have so many urgent needs for housing and open spaces for communities like mine. … I think there is room to still have golf courses owned by the municipality, but I don’t think we need as many as we have,” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, there has been some opposition from the golf community due to a misrepresentation surrounding the bill that it would force the conversion of public golf courses, but the choice is up to each jurisdiction.

Like so many cities across the state, Long Beach is grappling with soaring housing costs. According to the city Developmental Services Department, 43% of all households are cost-burdened in Long Beach, meaning they spend more than 30% of their monthly income on rent or a mortgage. And more than 20,000 Long Beach residents live in crowded conditions, a burden that disproportionately affects communities of color.

The City of Long Beach is required to build or preserve at least 26,502 homes by 2029 to comply with its state-mandated Housing Element Plan, and nearly 60% of those homes must be affordable.

The city’s proposed plan includes allowing housing on more parcels identified in “high resource” areas like East Long Beach, as well as an inclusive housing policy that will require developers to set aside a percentage of new units for low-income households. In the last cycle, the city only met 17% of its affordable housing needs.

AB 1910 is the second iteration of AB 672 which went through the Housing and Community Development Committee and the Local Government Committee last year but was stopped at the House Appropriations Committee. Garcia said his team had discussions with the appropriations committee to ensure they could move the bill forward through the approval process.

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