Can Golf Courses Solve LA’s Affordable Housing Crisis?

Housing-starved Los Angeles has the largest municipal golf system in the U.S.

An aerial view of Riviera Golf Course in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles golf courses could fill a housing need, but should they?
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Littered with 19 courses, like Rancho Park Golf Course in the neighborhood of Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles is home to the largest municipal golf system in the United States.

It’s also home to a shortage of affordable housing. In the opinion of Daniel Dunham, a designer at the Koning Eizenberg Architecture firm in Santa Monica, the city should consider making courses like 200-acre Rancho Park the new homes of affordable housing.

According to Dunham, Rancho Park could fit 15,000 units on its property, enough space for homes for about 50,000 people. In a city with a homeless population of nearly 60,000, that seems like it could be a great solution.

“It’s just such a huge use of land that I find it’s pretty inexcusable in dense urban areas,” Dunham told Bloomberg. “The site is so huge, you could build a factory there, build the units on site, and crane them into place. If you can get something like 15,000 units in one place, then it opens up a lot of opportunities for innovation and efficiency.”

However, should L.A. attempt to put Dunham’s plan into action, it is likely nearby residents would object, as would Dermot Connell, a local golfer who plays the city’s municipal circuit and serves as a Rancho Park board member.

“While recognizing that the homeless issue is real and that it’s a very big burden on the city of Los Angeles, I’d be personally very disappointed if they somehow managed to build on Rancho Park, or any of the city courses I play, for that matter,” he said. “I’m glad that people are thinking about ways to solve that problem. I would love it if they came up with other solutions other than knocking down Rancho Park. I just don’t think it’s practical.”

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