News Flash

Transportation & Public Works - News

Posted on: September 1, 2021

City Exploring Options for Bennett Valley Golf Course Property in Advance of 2022 Operator Contract

BV Golf Course_NF

UPDATE 9/1/21

The City of Santa Rosa is accepting applications for residents interested in participating on the Bennett Valley Golf Course Operational Analysis Review & Selection Committee. On August 17th, City Council approved the Bennett Valley Golf Course Ad Hoc Committees recommendation to add one member of the public, through an open application process, to serve on the Operational Analysis Review & Selection Committee.

Members of the public interested in serving on the Bennett Valley Golf Course Operational Analysis Review & Selection Committee must be a resident of the City of Santa Rosa and must complete and submit an application by September 16, 2021.

Bennett Valley Golf Course Operational Analysis Review & Selection Committee Application: English | Spanish

Schedule: 

  • Submission Deadline: September 16, 2021
  • Ad Hoc Committee Interviews: September 21, 2021
  • Proposal Review Begins: September 27, 2021

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UPDATE 8/18/21

Santa Rosa City Council approved the Bennett Valley Golf Course Ad Hoc committee’s recommendation to develop a scope of work for a consultant to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the golf course, pro shop, restaurant and banquet/event operations. The consultant’s evaluation will be used to develop a solicitation for a new operator prior to the expiration of the current operator’s contract on June 30, 2022. 

Based on community feedback, the consultant’s evaluation will focus on a comprehensive operational analysis rather than a real estate transaction. The evaluation process will include reviewing financial and contractual documents, golf and restaurant operations, City support, future capital improvements, golf trends, and single versus multiple operator contracts. 

When the scope of work is finalized, City staff will issue a request for proposals and approve the review and selection committee composition. Standard City composition of a Selection Committee is comprised of three to five City staff and one councilmember. The Ad Hoc committee is recommending adding one member of the public, through an open application process to be initiated at a later date.

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UPDATE 3/18/21

The Bennett Valley Golf Course (BVGC) Ad Hoc Committee met on Tuesday, March 9 to discuss how to proceed with evaluation of the course. The Committee unanimously agreed, that given significant public feedback and concerns as well as the need to focus on more significant citywide issues, staff should not proceed with conducting an evaluation of the BVGC that includes any real estate transactions. 

Committee members expressed appreciation to staff for bringing the alternative option forward for consideration and directed staff to begin preparing a comprehensive operational evaluation of the golf enterprise, with a focus on presenting a financially constrained proposal to council in advance of releasing a solicitation for a new operator in early 2022. 

Key aspects of this operational evaluation will include:

  • The enterprise will pay for itself
  • Evaluate refinancing and pre-payment options for the bond debt
  • Incorporate all deferred and long-term maintenance
  • Single operator for the golf course and restaurant

The next BVGC Ad Hoc committee meeting will be at the end of March 2021.

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UPDATE 3/5/21

During the Tuesday, March 2, 2021 City Council meeting, Council agreed to establish an ad hoc committee to assist staff is designing the scope of a Request for Proposal (RFP) that helps to capture the breadth of the public comments the City has received following the February 2, 2021 Bennett Valley Golf Course study session. This RFP will be brought back for consideration by Council for a full study session and public discussion at a later date.

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ORIGINAL MESSAGE 2/18/21

Community input has been robust following a Feb. 2 City Council Study Session on the future of the City-owned Bennett Valley Golf Course property. To clarify, the City’s review of the property is in the early stages, and among the options the City will consider is maintaining golf operations as-is. Additionally, the City is moving forward with a proposal for an in-depth study on the potential to redevelop portions of the property with other recreational and housing uses. Costs at the golf course outpace revenue being generated, and with the current operating contract expiring in June 2022, the City is beginning the review process now to ensure continuation of services, and ample time for Council and the community to consider recommendations and provide input. 

The following information was made available during the February 2nd City Council Study Session and is available here for your review:

  • Staff Report outlining the status of financial obligations and operations at the Bennett Valley Golf Course. 
  • Preliminary Considerations & Observations – an initial scoping analysis of several potential redevelopment options presented by the real estate consulting firm CBRE 

During the Study Session, Council provided direction to staff to proceed with developing a scope of work to conduct an in-depth study to understand if repurposing portions of the 175-acre golf course property could result in increased viability for long-term golf operations as well as increased recreational, retail and housing opportunities. The study would include a  series of diverse alternatives with financial outlines for each to help guide council and staff to properly evaluate whether to proceed with additional evaluations. Staff are now in the process of finalizing the scope of services and cost estimate for the contracted study. Once completed, staff will schedule a return to City Council requesting approval to award the service agreement. If approved, the study would be completed within approximately 90 days.

Bennett Valley Golf Course FAQs


Q1:       What is the current financial status of the golf course? 

A:         The financial challenges of the golf course are not insurmountable; however, the operational and long-term capital costs currently outpace the revenue being generated. 

Q2:      If the current operating contract is in place at the golf course through June 2022, why is the City considering making changes now?

A:         Staff must begin working on preparing a new operating contract and solicit for bid by early 2022 to ensure continuity of operations. If alternative studies are requested by council, work must begin immediately to ensure staff has adequate time to conduct the study, vet the information with council, and hold a series of community meetings to discuss any recommendations that are generated by the study.  

Q3:       What is happening with the Legends at Bennett Valley Golf Course restaurant?

A:         Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the operators of Legends closed the restaurant and asked to be released early from their contract with the City. Over the past three months staff has had discussion with local restaurant operators that have expressed interest in the restaurant as well as local turnkey golf operators that are interested in both the golf and restaurant operations.

Q4:       Has the City considered how other communities have adjusted their municipal golf course operations and land use to make them successful?

A:         Cities throughout California and the nation have conducted this same evaluation relating to their municipal golf courses with some making the choice to shift the property to include other uses while others have decided to maintain the golf operations. The study being proposed includes the full range of operational alternatives, so council has enough information to provide clear direction.

Q5:       What was the purpose of the February 2, 2021 Study Session?

A:         The study session was to receive feedback from council about whether staff and consultant resources should be committed to studying an option that could include redeveloping portions of the golf course property with other recreational and housing uses while maintaining golf as a key anchor to the property. The very initial presentation that was provided to Council during the Feb 2 study session was developed to provide Council with a general understanding of what the study would be evaluating and was not a proposal or recommendation. 

Q6.       Will the City consider an option to keep the status quo at the golf course or is the City planning to eliminate the golf course?

A:         The City has no plans to eliminate the golf course. Staff will develop an evaluation demonstrating what will be necessary to maintain the property and golf enterprise in its existing condition. This evaluation will be provided to City Council in addition to any contracted outside study conducted that is approved by Council.

Q7:       Why did the City select CBRE for the preliminary study and propose to move forward with an expanded study with them?

A:         CBRE is a national real estate firm that was selected through an open bid process to provide a wide variety of services to the City’s Real Estate Division. The study discussed during the study session is consistent with the expert knowledge base of CBRE which employs one of the nation’s top experts on successful golf course operations as well as the incorporation of other land uses within municipal golf courses.

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