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South Pas City Council Approves Arroyo Golf Course Rental Fee

By Eric Licas
The Review

The South Pasadena City Council unanimously approved a rental fee for private events at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course Wednesday, Feb. 21, amid predictions of a growing deficit in the city’s budget and concerns from nonprofits who host events at the public facility.
It will now cost $10,000 per day for businesses, newlyweds, filmmakers and anyone else interested in renting the golf course, plus a refundable $1,500 deposit. The resolution approved by the City Council includes a half-day rate of $5,000.
The new fee was unanimously approved by the City Council after considerable debate, and on the same night council members heard analysis projecting growing deficits in the city’s budget and dwindling reserve funds.
The golf course rental price factors in operating costs, potential lost revenue from closing the facility for business for a day and a margin of profit for the city. The course brings in an average of about $6,800 during a typical Saturday in its busy season, South Pasadena Community Services Director Sheila Pautsch said. Meanwhile, it typically costs about $1,800 to pay for staff to run an event at the golf course.
“As good fiscal agents for the city, and paying our staff, we have to charge this,” Councilman Michael Cacciotti said.
This makes the Arroyo Seco Golf Course one of just two golf courses in the area open to private events on its greens, Pautsch said. The other is Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena.
Previously, those interested in hosting an event on the golf course could gain permission to do so by filing a special event and co-sponsorship application with the city. Approved applicants were responsible for the cost of insuring and staffing events, but their permit fees were waived.
Events traditionally held at the golf course include South Pasadena High School’s homecoming and the South Pasadena Educational Foundation’s Parti Gras. The latter is a major fundraising event for the nonprofit.
“We understand the city’s concerns about lost revenue,” SPEF Development Coordinator Linda Vargas said. “But the proposal of instituting a substantial usage fee for our event will directly impact our ability to raise funds. A usage fee of $10,000 represents approximately one-sixth of the event’s net profits, and could potentially mean being unable to fund vital projects for our students.”
Councilmembers Jon Primuth, Janet Braun and Cacciotti said they regarded the new fees as a necessity, but each were open to making concessions for select nonprofits and other institutions. Mayor Evelyn Zneimer encouraged a more spartan approach.
“Since we are experiencing fiscal crisis, maybe we could waive their fee next year or when we’re fiscally healthy, but not this year,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Pro Tem Jack Donovan expressed caution about opening the door to a greater number of private events at the golf course, potentially making it less available for those who want to use it for its intended purpose. He added that the facility is already making money, bringing in roughly $600,000 last year.
“I want the citizens of South Pasadena to be number one to use it, and obviously it gets an awful lot of use, or we wouldn’t be getting the money that it’s making,” Donovan said.

First published in the March 8 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

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