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News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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City looking into concerns over Encinitas Ranch golf course

The Encinitas City Council has formed a subcommittee to investigate and possibly find solutions to questions raised about the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course.

The course is overseen by the independently run Encinitas Ranch Golf Authority, which was created in an agreement between the development company Carltas Company and the city of Encinitas.

The City Council voted Oct. 11 to form the subcommittee.

The course is located off Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas and is a vast piece of property, spanning more than 1,000 acres. It also boasts ocean views and features a 6,000-square-foot clubhouse.

After seeing an increase in property tax fees, local residents have reportedly raised questions about the decisions made by ERGA and the decision to hire JC Resorts to manage the course. But Carltas Company President Chris Calkins said he believes the issues are related to lessened revenue, not mismanagement.

“The economics have resulted in closer attention and a desire to assure that funds are at least being accounted for correctly,” Calkins said.

Calkins explained that in previous years, excess revenue went toward making bond payments. He said that in the last two years the excess revenue hasn’t been there and the bond payments haven’t been made in full, leaving the burden on local Encinitas Ranch residents.

“The economic downturn occurred on the course in 2008. Revenues went way down for the golf course,” Calkins said. “Homeowners were then caused to pay more in property taxes.”

Encinitas Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer and City Council member Tony Kranz are currently the only members on the committee created to oversee ERGA. Kranz initiated the plan to create the committee, while Shaffer volunteered to join.

“I have followed ERGA issues at a fairly high level for the last few years as part of observing the work of the City Council prior to my election, and since I took office,” Shaffer said.

The committee does not have clear guidelines or a set schedule for meeting times to begin the oversight process of ERGA and the course.

“As I see it, our job is to look into issues that are within the city’s scope of responsibility,” Shaffer said. “We have an interest in ERGA, but we are not the ERGA board.”

The development agreement between the city and Carltas Company is scheduled to end in 2014. Shaffer said the subcommittee has a planning meeting scheduled soon to further identify the issues and establish a plan.

“Our job is to look after the interests of city residents and taxpayers,” Shaffer said.

Jessica LaFontaine is a North County freelance writer

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City looking into concerns over Encinitas Ranch golf course