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City Releases Web Site, Appraisals, on Mif Albright Golf Course Swap

Working hard to sell the idea of the swap of the Mif Albright golf course with developer Ron Cowan for undevelopable land on North Loop Road, the City of Alameda this week released a web site and three appraisals of the golf course land.

The three appraisals place the 12 acres of golf course land at valuations ranging from $6.65 million to $15 million based on 130 detached single-family home lots planned for the property.

However, residents opposed to the swap confirmed that they are familiar with a rumor that makes the rounds every time the swap proposal comes up, as it has in the past, namely, that Ron Cowan plans to move the Harbor Bay Athletic Club to the Mif Albright course land and build more valuable waterfront houses on land currently occupied by the club. Such a move, if actually planned by Cowan, would supposedly offer greater profit potential for Cowan than building out 130 lots on the golf course proper, rendering the appraisals irrelevant.

Nobody that Action Alameda News spoke with would speak on the record regarding the post-swap switcheroo theory.

The appraisals, financial predictions and a FAQ produced by the city, are available on the City’s web site here.

19 comments to City Releases Web Site, Appraisals, on Mif Albright Golf Course Swap

  • Barb

    Just to put into perspective, how much did the 3 acres go for at CRABCOVE when sold by GSA this year? Any realtors out there know?

    Of course Cowan would swap the land unless he was restricted. And apparently he is not subject to any restrictions as he bought himself a for sale council.

  • 94502

    $6,650,000 to $15,000,000 appraisals on the same parcel. Big difference there. Something is still fishy.

  • john

    Cowan will tajke over the golf course and no one will oppose him
    They will keep mowing the trees around town everyone “bitch” forgive my French but no one will iniate a recall , for everyone information 71 years ago this City recalled the most croocked mayor they elected ,talk , talk but no action .

  • 94502

    Occupy the Harbor Bay Club!

  • Barbara

    Mr. Cowan, as an active Democrat knows well how to oil his engine. He is part of a very well established machine and they support each other. From Harbor Bay Realty, Harbor Bay Club, Ferry to Shopping Center, he owns Alameda, except that he does not live here.
    My question is: how much it cost him to buy our City’s Government?
    Maybe we can make them a better offer and return the governing to the best interest of Alameda and not Mr. Cowan. If money talks let figure it out: HOW MUCH?

    Does anyone know how much our City Officials are willing to accept?

    If they will go for the swap, then they may commit political suicide simply because the political sentiments are not as sympathetic to this type of actions anymore. Yes, I do have a hope.

  • By continuing to focus on Cowan, you’re not addressing the problems or coming up with solutions to solve them. Here is the problem:

    • The golf complex is in major disrepair and needs restoration
    • The cost to restore the golf complex is somewhere between $9m and $12m
    • There are little to no reserves in the Golf Enterprise fund to cover the costs to restore the golf complex
    • The golf course could within a short period of time, be operating at a deficit
    • The city doesn’t have money to carry the golf complex, nor does it have money to pay for the costs to restore the golf complex

    Like Alameda, other cities are faced with severe budget deficits and are looking at assets they can sell or in our case swap to resolve some of their budget challenges. The city of San Jose for example is also considering selling their 9-hole golf – so we’re not alone in looking at golf course assets as a means to solve some of our budgetary problems.

    We’re very fortunate to have these options, and to have a 45-hole golf complex to help us solve some of our problems. Most cities that have golf courses have only 18 holes. By being innovative and creative we can take a small portion of the golf complex (12.25 acres out of 348 acres) and solve some big problems:

    • Restoration of the golf complex
    • Extend it’s useful life for another 30–50+ years
    • Begin to restore the Golf Course Enterprise fund “reserves” for future capital improvements
    • If we decide to build a hotel and clubhouse – we could create another revenue source for the golf course enterprise fund and for the city – which would replenish the golf course reserves a lot faster and help offset future budget deficits.
    • Add tremendous value to Harbor Bay and the rest of Alameda by developing a high end hotel and club house on the golf course
    • Have money for a new soccer field

    I don’t know about you, but 12.25 acres doesn’t seem like such a bad sacrifice if we can solve all those problems

  • Karen – most people don’t believe that the golf course is in such bad shape. A group of Mif Albright advocates brought forth compelling evidence not that long ago showing how the numbers were massaged to make the golf course look like it was losing money.

    And something else just forwarded to me today – there needs to be an environmental study done, because if the City starts digging up the golf course to reconfigure it, nobody’s sure what they’ll find underneath in the old dumping grounds. It may cost the city millions to clean up.

  • Maria


    Why don’t people who like living near hotels and high-density housing move to places that already have those things and leave the rest of us alone?

    I feel horrible saying this but I must: why don’t the most highly-paid city staff take some pay and benefit cuts like the rest of us have had to do?

    Just saying.

  • Barbara

    I trust most people, who are overwhelmingly against swap, not a few who justify swap. People know at the bottom of their hearts, and past experiences, that this transaction smells badly from the very beginning. I do not play golf, nor live on Bay Farm, but we have to listen to those who do, because they sincerely care about their way of life, traffic and the problems they will encounter by this transaction.
    Ms. Cowan does not care about Alameda because he does not live here. He cares about his bottom line, the way I see it. Remember his big ad about supporting property taxes? He actually benefits from it at our expense. Big lot, small taxes, commercial properties? People remember his past deals, I do not, but I trust people who sincerely care about Alameda. Of course, they are usually marginalized by “fu-fu liberals” who care only about themselves.
    In addition, by presenting Golf as a problem and directing it toward Mr.Cowan’s “solution” what options do we have? How about fixing City’s expenses first? Maria is right here. People are not stupid. If I do not have money and I am looking to others to help me, it will be only a temporary solution. As soon as I spend them I will need more, and more, and more… Cycle of spending is addictive if I know that someone will come to the rescue. We, people of Alameda, have entrusted our City Officials with the City’s resources and properties and they have to fulfill their fiduciary obligations to the people of Alameda.
    Unfortunately, most of them are lawyers who have questionable ethical approach to the business with strange values only to advance their political careers as politicians.
    I still have hope that they will do what is right and look at other solutions to preserve beauty and uniqueness of our City.

  • A good friend of mine said “if you continuously focus on the problem, you will experience more of the same – more problems; but if you focus on solutions, you will eventually solve the problem”.

    We have looming budget deficits and some folks have even said we are on the verge of bankruptcy. So coming up with solutions to solve our budget woes should be our number one priority.

    And David, here say is one thing, but facts are facts:

    • We need between $9m and $12m to restore the golf complex
    • The city has no money to restore the golf complex
    • The Golf Course Enterprise fund is almost depleted

    And to your point about the numbers being massaged, I believe what others have said was that the city took money from the golf course enterprise fund at a time when the golf complex needed/needs major repairs. If I was on the golf commission, I would be upset about this as well. But here’s where I differ with some on the golf commission:

    I believe the main purpose of enterprise funds is to make a profits (something cities can’t do) and a portion of those profits then benefits the general fund. The Alameda Municipal Power Company is another enterprise fund that generously transfers profits from their enterprise to the general fund every year. If they didn’t, our looming budget deficits would be even greater. But should the city have taken money out of the golf course enterprise fund in light of the fact that the golf complex needed major repairs – probably not.

    We have an opportunity to correct that and restore the golf complex. Do I like Cowan? It really doesn’t matter if we can get a deal that is a win win for the city. And I think the new appraisals give us an opportunity to make some changes on the plan, and the deal points.

  • 94502

    Just send Cowan away. Has he himself ever shown up at any public function or meeting here?

  • Barbara

    Bring house to order, and you’ll see that there is a way to manage our City with surplus.
    I did in my household and it worked. I have less of Chanel purses, but I adjusted. I did not have a raise for few years and I do not contribute to 401K. If I can do it, so can anyone else. This is a hard time, but we have to make appropriate adjustments. Trim, trim, trim and trim… Balance, balance, balance…

    Please, do not create the problem just to trying to fix it. City created the problem and the SOLUTION is to WORK on SPENDING, not on selling or swapping or shady deals.

    Good intentions have always unintended consequences. Keep in mind that the houses will have to be sold and resold and Mr.Cowan will benefit from it as Harbor Bay Realty is at his order. No matter how you’ll look at it he is the highest beneficiary from this deal. Now and in the future…

  • Barb

    The Golf Course would be in fine shape if the City would just let it alone. The citizens have always come forward to keep it up. Norma Arnerich and her tree planting campaign for example. What is going to motivate citizens to be civic minded and generous with time and money, if our government gives away that which many worked so hard for is turned over to a money grubbing developer at less than market value???? It would simply be subsidizing more of our own demise and deterioration of the quality of life on the island to give him money to spend on more chicks in LA or whatever geezers his age spend it on.

    Who is going to keep up the Soccer fields and all the traffic they bring year round? Look at the proposed idealic little parking space area after the swap. Compare that to actual parking at soccer events now. Parking will increase ten fold when the fields are rented, leased and marketed to pay for their upkeep.

    And oh yeah, how much did AMP realy make for the City over the last 20 years or so? We subsidize the price of electricity for users, at the expense of gas. Then the City’s boondoggle for internet and cable washed away all the profits for years to come. Is it really a great idea to repeat that fiasco? Our council has proven over and over again that it does not have the brains, foresight or monetary awareness to manage a simple household budget, let alone anything more sohphisticated.

  • Barbara

    Well said!

  • Betty

    So Karen, how much did Mr. Cowan pay you?

  • Maria

    Reducing spending does not occur to Karen. With the bullet-points and all, it is clear she is a real estate developer-type. Not one mention of traffic, smog, congestion, uglification, loss of trees, wildlife habitat. These do not factor in at all!

  • Barbara

    Things are not happening in vacuum. There was long term attempt to convert Alameda into low-income and liberal Mecca by “fu-fu liberals” and Democrats. The problem is that this experiment will not work because this experiment is ad-hock, based on human emotions and constantly shifting in many directions.

    So called and self-appointed leaders in Alameda market their vision as “it’s good for you”, “we know better than you”, “you are bigots” etc… Good news is that there is another very smart group of people and it is growing by a minute which finally is in the process of awakening. The people of Alameda who love Alameda will raise and stand up against what is happening to the City and them. They finally see the truth that they are good, working, honest and ethical and they deserve to be heard…

  • Anonymous

    AA: Are you okay with “Betty”‘s comment, alleging that Karen Bey (using her full name) was paid by Cowan? You object to unpleasant and ad-hominem comments from those not using their full names. Fine. But be consistent. Some people say that your policy is, to use Barbara’s version of term, “ad hock.”

  • Anonymous – the only people complaining about the editorial policy are yourself, and those who disagree with editorial decisions made here. You are free to start your own news website or blog, but I bet you already have.

    Betty’s question, “So Karen, how much did Mr. Cowan pay you?” given what is widely known about how developers have done business in the past in Alameda, is a fair one. Karen Bey is free to respond with an answer.

    BTW “Anonymous” – we’ve moved to moderated comments now, so folks will have to use their real name and e-mail address.

    And despite your false allegations, the only comment we’ve removed was one that advocated vandalism against a particular homeowner, that was identified, in retaliation for their posting a sign opposing a ballot measure.