Adobe Creek Golf Course, once one of Sonoma County’s premier public golf venues, is now a rat’s nest. That is not hyperbole — the shuttered course alongside Frates Road has literally become infested with rats, leading to expensive extermination bills for neighbors living along the course.
Ever since the owners closed Adobe Creek at the beginning of the year, citing declining revenue, the course has become overgrown with grass and weeds and infested with vermin. Home owners, who paid a premium to live along verdant fairways, have seen their property values drop and are rightly upset. The Adobe Creek land includes a zoning requirement that the property be maintained as a functioning golf course through 2039.
That the owners have allowed the course to become a blight on the community not only runs afoul of city ordinances, it is simply the wrong thing to do. We sympathize with the business owners who say they could not make a profit off the course, but simply walking away is just not an option.
If they are incapable of turning a profit on the course, the owners should either sell the property to the city or to another company to run as a golf course. There is precedent for city-owned golf courses here in Sonoma County. The city of Rohnert Park owns two golf courses and leases them to a management company. A publicly appointed committee oversees the lease and makes sure that maintenance is properly performed.
There is evidence that the current owners of Adobe Creek do not want another company owning or managing the course. Richard Coombs, co-founder of the Airport Business Center, the North Bay’s largest business park, is also the general partner of the investment companies that own Adobe Creek and Rooster Run Golf Course, Petaluma’s other public course.
Located just a few miles north of Adobe Creek, Rooster Run is a thriving venue with an event center, pro shop and conference facilities. Adobe Creek residents complain that the course owners shut down similar event facilities at their course. They contend that, with the right investment, Adobe Creek could once again be profitable.
However, in the hands of another company, a successful Adobe Creek Golf Course could certainly siphon customers away from Rooster Run. For this reason, or perhaps because Mr. Coombs’ much larger Santa Rosa investment responsibilities are consuming too much of his time, he may believe that inaction with respect to Adobe Creek is a good business decision.
Perhaps it is for Mr. Coombs, but certainly not for Petaluma. And it is surely not fair to homeowners who now have a rat-infested morass in their backyards.
The city’s zoning law requires the land to be a golf course. For that reason, the city should push hard on the owners to see that Adobe Creek Golf Course returns as an attractive, fully functioning facility.