A union-backed advocacy group Monday filed a lawsuit against Santa Ana and Garden Grove to attempt to stop the proposed sale of a city-owned golf course.

The Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development’s lawsuit alleges the cities violated the Surplus Land Act when they issued requests for proposals in April to develop the Willowick Golf Course

“The cities of Garden Grove and Santa Ana are violating the law,” said the group’s attorney, Brian Olney. “In so doing, they are ignoring the demands of their own residents. They should invest in the health of the community by offering the Willowick property for use as a park or affordable housing. The law requires no less.”

The city of Garden Grove issued the following statement:

“The city of Garden Grove purchased a commercial golf course in Santa Ana in 1964 and has continued to operate it as a commercial venture ever since. The property has never been used for governmental purposes. The Surplus Land Act does not apply because the land is not surplus, it has never been declared surplus, nor ever held as surplus by the city of Garden Grove.

“However, the opportunity to potentially partner with the city of Santa Ana to redevelop the land led the cities to solicit development community interest and proceeded with a process that included community input that was provided to interested developers on Garden Grove’s website at ggcity.org/econdev/envision-willowick. While the city of Garden Grove has received various proposals, its staff is still in the process of reviewing the proposals and no decision has been made.

“At the same time, the city of Garden Grove is aware of the passage by the state Legislature last month of AB 1486, which amends the Surplus Land Act to require public agencies to first declare land surplus prior to disposing of any property after Jan. 1, 2020. While the city of Garden Grove is still reviewing whether it would apply to commercial property owned by Garden Grove outside its jurisdictional boundaries, the city would likely comply with its requirement.”

Organizations providing funding for Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development include UNITE HERE Local 11, a union representing more than 30,000 workers employed in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas and convention centers throughout Southern California and Arizona.

Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development also receives funding from various foundations, including The California Endowment, the Orange County Community Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation.

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