Ahwatukee Home Owners Association Battle, Sal DiCiccio Discusses

The Phoenix, Arizona area is suffering from a problem that is plaguing other locales: golf courses are going out of business. A diminishing number of golfersj and steadily increasing maintenance costs have forced golf courses all over the country to shut down. The problem is deciding what to do with the large chunks of real estate that are suddenly available in areas ripe for some kind of development.

Some closed courses are surrounded by homeowners who paid a premium housing cost to gain access to a course right outside the back door. There are legal and political issues involved. These courses are often controlled by a private property group and are subject to restrictions included in deeds that are subject to covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). A battle over a closed golf course is currently underway in Ahwatukee, Arizona, a bedroom community adjacent to Phoenix. Apparently, outsiders interested in development are spending significant amounts of money in a coming election for the Ahwatukee Board of Management (ABM), the homeowners association that is involved with a the closed Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course, whose clubhouse recently burned down.

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents the Ahwatukee community and has been following the election. DiCiccio notes that the election for the homeowners association election has drawn the level of attention “that you would see in a congressional race.” Thousands of dollars are being poured into the election. DiCiccio says that the closed golf course has underlying zoning that would allow higher density development. The only thing standing in the way is the deed restrictions. The Ahwatukee course could accommodate 2,000 apartments if not for the CC&Rs.

Another concern is that the elimination of the open green space in a community would set a precedent for other troubled golf courses in the area. Developers might feel an urge to shut down courses, create a blighted area, and then propose to solve the blight problem with a new, large development. DiCiccio points out that developers who are spending thousands of dollars monthly on consultants would do better to spend that money working together with communities to keep the spaces looking good. Community members need to work together to solve the problems.

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