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Local golf courses prime properties for housing redevelopment

More and more local golf courses are closing down and developers are eyeballing the land to build new housing.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (NEWS 8) -- More and more local golf courses are closing down and developers are eyeballing the land to build new housing.

The view from the backyard of Joe Pierzina's home in Ranch Penasquitos is not what it used to be.

“It was nice and green before.  There were golfers that came through and it was a great view out my backyard,” said the longtime resident.

“One of the reasons why we purchased this is because of the open space behind us,” he said.

The Carmel Highland golf course closed down in 2015 after more than four decades of operation.  Now the land is brown, overgrown and prime property for redevelopment.

33North Development Group submitted a notice of application in January to begin the redevelopment process for a project called The Junipers.

The plan calls for close to 500 homes to be built on the closed-down golf course, which will require a zoning change from the City of San Diego.

The developer declined to be interviewed for this report.

Pierzina and other Rancho Penasquitos neighbors have started an action group called Save PQ to oppose the development.

“I think that the unprofitability of the golf course really was just an excuse to try and look at changing it and developing it where a lot more money could be made,” said Pierzina.

Other communities are dealing with the same issue.

In the North County, the owner of the Escondido Country Club has been fighting neighbors for years in an effort to build nearly 400 homes on that former golf course.

Poway, Mission Valley, and Chula Vista could be next.

“There was a lot of construction and expansion in the golf industry from the 1960s to the 1980s.  There was over development and some courses have not been able to stay viable,” said real estate expert Peter Dennehy.

Dennehy is co-chair of the Urban Land Institute in San Diego, the nonprofit group that recently laid out plans for redeveloping the Chula Vista Municipal Golf Course.

“What's unique about a golf course is it's a big swath of undeveloped property, typically in an infill location surrounded by other development and services,” Dennehy said.

The City of Chula Vista currently has no plans to redevelop its municipal golf course but paid $20,000 dollars for the Urban Land Institute analysis.

Dennehy said San Diego desperately needs new housing projects.

“We are building only about 3,000 new homes a year and 6,000 to 7,000 apartments countywide; that's the lowest level of new units since the 1940s,” he said.

Still, neighbors who have been living near golf courses for decades would rather see the land preserved as open space.

“Once that open space is gone it's gone and we'll never get it back,” said Pierzina.

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