La Verne

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Sierra La Verne Country Club Fact Page

The City has been informed that Sierra La Verne Country golf course is being marketed for sale. Since this has prompted some concerns among area residents the City wanted to make the following information available to address many of the concerns raised.

To report concerns with condition or activities, click here: Sierra La Verne Country Club Activity Log

  • Update 8/28/2019: Since the last update, the following has occurred:
         
    • Week of 8/19/2019, La Verne Fire Department representatives, the representative with the Los Angeles County Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures, and the Sierra La Verne Country Club management inspected the entire golf course property to identify specific landscape maintenance required by the County (who acts on the City’s behalf for weed abatement). Approximately 15 trees were identified as dead or otherwise needed to be removed, and all weeds within 200’ of the perimeter homes will be knocked down in the coming weeks. The City of La Verne Fire Department may perform an exercise drill and cut down some of these trees themselves. Trees slated for removal have been wrapped with an orange ribbon. Trees to be trimmed have been wrapped with a green ribbon. Also, trees with both a green ribbon and orange ribbon would be part of the La Verne Fire Department exercise drill previously mentioned.
           
    • On 8/28/2019, Staff walked the site with the corporate project manager for Western Golf, and affirmed the three oak trees tagged with an orange ribbon were dead and slated for removal. The other fifteen trees slated for removal or trimming are not protected trees, but staff observed they were either dead or contained dead/dying branches. An arborist with the tree removal company was onsite to observed and direct proper tree removal and tree trimming practices.
  • *Golf Course Pond Update*
       

    • On 8/29/2019, Staff visited the site with the corporate project manager with Western Golf with the main purpose of understanding which trees were slated for removal. However, the site visit with the golf course manager updated staff on the future of the ponds. The initial plan presented to staff a few weeks ago was to drain the ponds. However, the draining of any of the ponds would require each pond drained to be back filled with earth. The process is much more expensive than anticipated, and as such the golf course ownership is not interested in pursuing this option at this time. Instead, the golf course manager has been working closely with San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control, and has opted to introduce mosquito fish into the ponds in an effort to keep the mosquito and mosquito larvae down. 

          

We will continue to update this section as more information becomes available. Below is the timeline of events beginning August 2018 up until this latest update.

  • The Sierra La Verne Country Club is a private, members only, golf course with wedding, dining, and banquet facilities located at 6300 Country Club Drive.
      
  • The golf course originally opened in 1978 as a 9-hole course that was open to the public, later expanding to an 18-hole course and becoming a private country club.
      
  • In 1996, the City approved a new Conditional Use Permit for the operation of the golf course and the clubhouse, with specific conditions of approval. This Conditional Use Permit transfers to a new owner automatically, allowing new owners to continue to operate a public or private golf course.
      
  • The properties that make up the golf course have been sold several times (1988, 1993, 2009, 2014, 2016). 
      
  • In 2015 a developer was exploring the potential of purchasing Sierra La Verne Country Club and doing an exchange with Los Angeles County’s Marshall Canyon Golf Course, a public facility, with the hope to annex the Marshall Canyon property into La Verne to develop homes there on account both golf courses were struggling with generating revenues. The City Council, after hearing the concerns of the residents, sent a letter to our County Supervisor (then it was Michael Antonovich) indicating that the Council did not support such a deal. The County then stopped discussions with the developer. No application was ever submitted to the City for this proposal. 
      
  • The Sierra La Verne Country Club has a General Plan designation of “Open Space”. The General Plan is the City’s guiding document for the future. Last adopted in 1998, the City is currently undergoing an update to the General Plan. It is not expected that there will be any change to the “Open Space” designation within the new General Plan. This designation prohibits any development on the property. 
     
  • The Sierra La Verne Country Club has a Zoning designation of “A-1”, or “Agriculture”. This Zoning designation would allow the construction of up to one single-family home for every parcel (Sierra La Verne Country Club is comprised of a total of four parcels), if not for the General Plan designation of “Open Space”. 
     
  • The company marketing the sale of the properties, the Hoffman Company, has released marketing material which indicates that the properties are ready for residential development. As mentioned above, this is not the case.
      
  • The City has had inquiries from developers as a result of the marketing materials, and each developer has been told about the restrictions on development. 
     
  • On social media (Nextdoor, Facebook) we have seen comments that the property would be allowed to build 110 units (not true) or even 220 units with Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) because of new State law (again, not true). In fact, ADU’s are not permitted in the City’s Hillside Development Overlay Zone due to concerns of being in the very high fire zone. This Hillside Development Overlay Zone covers all properties north of Baseline and east of Wheeler, which would include the Sierra La Verne Country Club. 
      
  • There has also been discussion that there are several of these ADU’s being built in these neighborhoods today. Some of the structures may be detached guest homes, which differ from ADU’s as they are not permitted to have kitchen facilities, thus prohibiting long-term stays. If you have questions on a specific structure, you may contact the City’s Community Development Department at 909-596-8706 for more information. 
     
  • The City sent the pdf Hoffman Company a letter on August 14, 2018 (302 KB) , indicating the current General Plan and Zoning designations, the limitations on development, and that the City would not support the development of the properties. 
     
  • A developer could file an application to change the General Plan and Zoning designations in order to allow development, but that would be an extensive process with full community involvement, thorough environmental studies, and several public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council, with the City Council ultimately tasked with approving or denying the request. Without the support of City staff and based on the decision made in 2015, it would be unlikely that a developer would be successful requesting a change. 
      
  • Update 12/10/18: The property owner contacted the City ( pdf Sol Long Term Letter to City (10/18/18) (46 KB) ) indicating that as a result of being unable to find a suitable buyer for the property, they would begin bankruptcy proceedings and closure of the golf course. The City responded ( pdf City Letter to Sol Long Term (11/05/18) (77 KB) ) that we were willing to meet with the owners to discuss the issues raised in their letter. The City has no further contact with the property owner since that letter was sent. An article detailing these latest events was recently in the local newspaper ( pdf Daily Bulletin Article (12/09/18) (29 KB) ).
      
  • Update 2/6/19:  Since the last update, the following has occurred:
    • At the beginning of January, Western Golf was brought on by the owners to handle the golf operations.
       
    • In a letter dated January 7, 2019, La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick sent a letter ( pdf Mayor Kendrick Letter January 07, 2018 (250 KB) ) to residents in north La Verne on his own behalf in order to inform residents as to what had occurred to that date with the City’s initial letter ( pdf Hoffman Company a letter on August 14, 2018 (302 KB) ) attached.
       
    • On January 12th, a Nextdoor post had a photo of the letter and asked for other residents to provide more information. The post had 60 comments between January 12th and January 17th.
       
    • The City met with Western Golf on January 17th to find out what their plans were for the golf course.  Representatives of Western Golf informed the City that they were brought on to look into the operations and to see if there might be a way to keep the golf course open. The City expressed our interest in seeing the property remain a golf course, and offered to assist them in their efforts.
       
    • On January 18th, Western Golf held a meeting with their members to introduce themselves and explain what they hope to do in the coming months “to get the club on solid footing.”
       
    • The City anticipated that many people would be attending the January 22nd City Council meeting regarding this issue, so Mayor Kendrick asked Community Development Director Eric Scherer to provide an update on the issue at the meeting. Several residents and members spoke during public comment on the issue, asking the City to try to make sure the property remains a golf course.  There was no action for the City Council to take at this meeting.
        
  • Update 6/20/2019: Since the last update, the following has occurred:
    • Between March and April, approximately seven different workshop meetings were held at the La Verne Community Center by a potential developer, New Urban West, Inc. At these informal workshops they gathered input, feedback, and responded to questions and concerns from the surrounding neighborhood, the Sierra La Verne Golf Course members, and other interested individuals. 
        
    • Bobby Heath of Western Golf, who is currently operating the golf course on behalf of Zaruka Investments, has recently indicated the potential closure of the golf course; but that it would not be closed before 7/15/19.
        
    • On 6/3/19, National Construction Rentals, a temporary fencing company, contacted the Community Development Department about the construction of a six-foot high temporary chain link fence. The fence contractor identified the perimeter fence was necessary to secure the site. The Community Development Department provided a response stating the requirement for a development application to construct approximately 5.3 miles of fencing along the edges of the golf course. The City has not received a response from the fence company since the information was provided.
        
    • On 6/4/19, the Building Inspector stopped work at the facility as contractors had demolished the gazebo in the wedding area without permits. The contractors had also removed the walkways, and staged the area to pour new concrete in the same walkway area. The contractor had indicated they were hired by Wedgewood Weddings to do the work and to construct a new arbor within the wedding area. The Community Development Director followed-up with John Zaruka, owner of Wedgewood Weddings.
        
    • Mr. Zaruka, before selling the property to Michael Schlesinger, signed a long-term lease with Wedgewood Weddings for the operations of the Banquet facilities; a 20-year lease. Mr. Zaruka has no intentions of ceasing the banquet facility as it remains profitable, which is the reason for the recent improvements to the wedding area.
        
    • On 6/6/19, in an effort to be proactive, the City Attorney sent a follow-up letter to the property owner, Sol Land Trust, LLC. The letter identified the process through the Municipal Code regarding fencing the perimeter of the site and landscape maintenance requirements if the golf course were to be closed.
        
    • On 6/17/19, residents along Sherwood Drive contacted the Community Development Department to inquire if permits had been issued for the placement of a bright orange plastic mesh fence. The Building Inspector went to the area and inquired with the contractor installing the temporary fence, J.T. Kruer & Company, and determined the fence was below three-feet; however, the Community Development Director later determined the fencing would still require a Community Development application and process.
        
    • On 6/19/19, The Building Inspector issued a Stop-Work Notice to J.T. Kruer & Company for the golf course fencing. The property owner or a representative is required to receive approval for the perimeter fencing. The recently installed and unpermitted bright orange fence is inclusive of the Stop-Work Notice.
  • Update 6/26/2019: Since the last update, the following has occurred:
    • On 6/25/19, the Sierra La Verne Country Club notified its members that the ownership has decided to close the course on Sunday, July 21, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.
          
  • Update 8/7/19: Since the last update, the following has occurred:
    • On 7/29/2019, Golf course representatives with Western Golf contacted staff regarding the placement of “No Trespassing” signs around the edge of the golf course (17 in total). Staff provided the sign standards to the representative, and in reviewing the proposal, staff determined the signs are within the standards and don’t require a permit from the City. The signs will be 18” x 24” and read “No Trespassing California Penal Code Section 602(L) Warning This Property is Under Video Surveillance.” The six-foot tall signs are anticipated to be placed onsite August 8th pdf Map of Placement of "No Trespassing" Signs (298 KB)
         
    • On 7/31/19, Staff was notified the golf course carts were being removed from the site.
         
    • On 8/2/19, Staff was notified that two of the ponds which are not part of the natural spring would be drained.  These ponds are located at Holes #15 and #18 and shown here:
      Sierra La Verne Ponds

      The representative of the ownership group indicated that they have had discussions with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Inland Valley Humane Society and will be transferring any fish and turtles to the three other ponds which will remain filled from the natural spring. While no permits or City approval is required for the draining of these ponds, the City has requested written confirmation of the agencies concurrence be provided before draining the two ponds.
       
      Lastly, the City received an application to construct a new Verizon wireless communications facility near the two existing wireless towers adjacent to the clubhouse.  A similar application was approved in 2016 for a Verizon facility that eventually expired as they did not move forward with construction.  The City has found the current application incomplete at this time and will continue to process the application should the applicant make the application complete.

 

  • We will keep the residents informed on this topic as we know more information.