Oakland Municipal Course May Go Posh

It’s a sign of the times. Cities cut deals with private developers to renovate existing courses. The developers then hike green fees, which effectively draws a more upscale clientele and their dollars to the courses. The downside to these deals is the exclusion of less-moneyed players, the same people kept the original courses in business for years.

Oakland’s Lake Chabot Golf Course is a perfect example of the “reconstruction for revenue” scenario. City officials are negotiating with private developer KSL Recreation Corporation of La Quinta. If all goes according to plan, KSL will sign a 40-year, $15-million deal with the city to manage the course. Once that happens, the course will be extensively remodeled, and it will undergo an increase in green fees from the current $9-$23 to $45-$135 per round. The city hopes to make between $60 and $65 million in rent of the course over the 40-year lease. The remodeling could begin as early as this August.

Increased fees, the destruction of 752 trees – including 159 native oaks – and the demolition of Lake Chabot’s historic, depression-era clubhouse – are changes that don’t sit well with local and regular course patrons. City officials will be reviewing the plan over the next few months. The facelift would close the course for 14 to 18 months. And when Lake Chabot reopens, Oakland’s local “muni” won’t be the place it used to be.