Huge Crowd Urges Board to Keep Golf Courses in Oakmont

Last Updated: 04-17-19

Crowd fills Berger Center for Board’s open forum on golf. (Photo by Maureen McGettigen)

(Jackie Ryan, Jim Brewer and Marty Thompson contributed reporting for this story.)

An overflow crowd filled the Berger Center, expressing strong support April 16 for the board and its efforts to determine whether to bid on buying Oakmont’s golf courses and the Quail Inn restaurant. The Oakmont Golf Club (OGC) board, facing financial pressure, put the property up for sale April 2 for an asking price of $4.8 million.

OVA President Steve Spanier said the OGC’s action left the OVA only two options – to make a bid or do nothing. Many speakers praised the board for its diligence during a complex process.

“We are a golf community whether we golf or not. We need to take control of our own destiny,” said Director Carolyn Bettencourt.

Director Noel Lyons said he didn’t know “whether to make an offer until we have more information, but the course and the land are critical assets to the Oakmont Village Association, and we need to do whatever is appropriate to maintain it.”

Some speakers urged a community vote on whether to buy the courses. But board members made it clear that one would be held only if a board decision to purchase the club triggers a vote based on the statelaw governing homeowners associations. A membership vote is required for an annual dues increase of 20 percent or more, or when a special assessment would exceed five percent of the association’s budgeted gross expenses – in Oakmont’s case a little over $200,000.

Tom Kendrick, OVA vice president, said 1,600-plus members would have to return ballots and approval by at least a majority of a quorum of Oakmont’s roughly 3,200 households – just over 800 “yes” votes – would be needed for passage.

Board members said they have been told there is significant interest in the property and the process for due diligence would be a short time frame, with the OGC expected to stop accepting bids by mid to late May. The OVA board hasengaged the services of Ken Arimitsu, Senior VP Brokerage Services, National Golf and Land, for Madison Marquette. Armitsu has been in the business for 23 years and has been involved in the sale of about 130 golf courses.

“We are quite confident we have the right person to work with,” said Spanier. The board members signed a confidentiality agreement to receive a sales prospectus from the OCG broker, Marcus and Millichap. That agreement prohibits the board from disclosing confidential data and information related to the property during the bidding period.

He said the board has about six weeks to make a decision and is working simultaneously on several fronts to gather data, including developing a realistic idea of what OVA might spend between now and the end of the year and taking a first pass at the 2020 budget. He said 2019 actuals and 2020 budget numbers will yield a 2020 dues increase estimate for OVA operations. Directors are also working on post-purchase plans.

Herm Herman, a former director, said the decision in front of the board “was the toughest any board has had to

Nick Beltrano speaks during golf open forum at Berger Center (Maureen McGettigen photo)

make. I was adamantly against this. I’ve changed my mind. I would like to challenge this board to think big. I have complete confidence in this board to do the best thing for this community.”

Kerry Oswald urged the board to protect the space. “I don’t want a golf course, but I do want the green environment.”

Christie Marcus, a local real estate agent, said the uncertainty about the courses had caused some of her clients to stop looking at properties in Oakmont. John Hughson, a prospective buyer in Oakmont asked, “What would (H.N) Berger do? Oakmont was his dream and you are living his dream. The courses are a big draw. Don’t let anyone take it away from you.”

(Watch a video of the town hall at www.oakmontvillage.com/videos)