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Three-way settlement allows housing, park at former golf course

In what they hope will end 4-1/2 years of lawsuits, name-calling, petition drives and general contentiousness, the City of Martinez, a Concord-based homebuilder and a citizens’ group have reached an agreement as to the future of a former golf course.

This past week, the city, developer DeNova Homes, Inc. and the citizens group Friends of Pine Meadow reached a settlement as to the future of the 26.9-acre Pine Meadow Golf Course. That future, pending approval by the courts and the Martinez City Council, would include:

  • Development of 65 houses on about 12 acres of the former golf course.
  • Development of a public park on nine acres of the former golf course lands, to be deeded to the city or “another appropriate entity” not specified.
  • DeNova providing $1 million in improvements for the park area and associated open space, including pedestrian paths.
  • Declaring all existing lawsuits surrounding the Pine Meadow property, including those filed by Friends of Pine Meadow, to be resolved.

This agreement was announced last week in a joint statement issued by the city, DeNova and Friends of Pine Meadow. They said they hope their statement will be “the definitive statement of the parties involved” about the settlement.

In that statement, Tim Platt of Friends of Pine Meadow said:

“We believe this settlement will be far better for open space advocates and for Martinez and its citizens than enduring more years of litigation.”

The three-way agreement is designed to end an ongoing battle that boiled down to the question of whether a closed golf course could be considered “open space,” and whether the public should be able to help determine the future of such lands.

DeNova originally wanted to build 98 houses on part of the golf course land; the Friends of Pine Meadow wanted no houses there, instead wanting the former golf course declared “open space.”

The Martinez City Council in January 2015 tried to rezone the golf course — which shut down 3-1/2 months later — to host housing. That vote prompted the Friends of Pine Meadow to collect enough petition signatures to require the City Council either to rescind its zoning change (and accompanying general plan amendment) or put the zoning/housing issue to a public vote.

The council opted for a vote, which finally happened in June 2018. The Friends-backed “Measure I,” requiring voter approval for any changes to any open space in Martinez, edged out a similar but slightly more restrictive city-backed measure.

Certain changes to Measure I’s language are part of the new agreement.

Dana Tsubota, DeNova Homes executive vice president, said in the statement that her company is happy to finally move ahead with new houses on the former golf course.

Tsubota said:

“We think the end result — both the new park and the additional housing — will benefit the city and its residents.”

In the same joint statement, Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder said:

“With this settlement, we hope to put those disagreements behind us and move forward for the betterment of the city and all its citizens.”

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