RP OKs Foxtail contract
Belforte votes against 20-year lease, hoped it would go out to bid
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By Jud Snyder  October 12, 2012 12:00 am

It took only a skimpy 2-1 vote by Rohnert Park’s City Council to approve a new lease for Foxtail Golf Club. All five members of the council were present Tuesday night, but because of a California law, city council members residing adjacent or close to a golf course cannot vote on matters dealing with it. The object was to prevent profiteering by city officials who get advanced word on proposed golf courses and buy up nearby property to make a killing.

As a result, because of where they live, councilmen Amy Ahanotu and Joe Callinan had to vacate their seats on the council. Ahanotu left the council meeting room, but Callinan took a seat in the mostly empty room. He spoke as a private citizen prior to discussion on the Foxtail rental lease changes.

“I live with my family on the edge of the South Course, and it’s in terrible shape. I see it every day,” Callinan began. “To lease these two courses for a base rent of $50,000 a year is crazy. There’s a lot that has to be done here.

“It should be put out to public bid to get a better offer. A base rent of $50,000 should get us a much higher offer.”

He also said all five council members should be voting on the golf course contract, indicating the state law really doesn’t apply to Rohnert Park because Foxtail fairways are already built up with single-family homes, the DoubleTree Hotel and a shopping plaza.

But City Attorney Michelle Marchetta Kenyon was firm in her recommendation the city council should follow the law.
The three-member council had no comment on Callinan’s remarks.

In their discussion, they noted the highlights: a 20-year lease, rent would be $81,000 a year, minus $31,000 for Foxtail to manage the long landscaping along Golf Course Drive the city formerly owned and maintained, plus a percentage of the gross revenue Foxtail earns from merchandise, food and beverage and gross golf fee revenue. The total net payment amount is an estimated $87,000 for 2012. Next year, it’ll be about $108,500, a thousand dollars higher in 2014 and $173,500 in 2015. The base rent would also rise from year to year.

Previous flat rate rental contracts with the city have been costing Foxtail anywhere from $250,000 to a maximum of $450,000 per year.

When it came to a vote, Councilwoman Gina Belforte spoke first. “I’m disappointed this is not going out to  bid,” she said. “I feel like I’m being forced into this, and I’m not going to vote for it.”

But vice-Mayor Pam Stafford and Mayor Jake Mackenzie teamed up to approve the new contract.
“It’s fair contract, we’ve had lots of discussion on it,” said Stafford.

“It’s a reasonable proposal,” said Mackenzie.
The council then went into a closed-door session.

In the city hall lobby, Tom Isaak, president of Courseco, located in  Petaluma, who manages the two courses at Foxtail, said, “It’s a better deal for us, and it runs for 20 years, and I think it’s a better deal for the city.”

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