As Goes the Golf Course, So Goes the City

According to this story in the El Paso Times, the City isn’t going to bail out the Vista Hills Country Club:

City Manager Tommy Gonzalez and city Economic and International Development Department officials told homeowners at the meeting that the best way to prevent the golf course from closing forever and becoming a blighted property would be for the homeowners to form a private homeowners association, or get City Council to form a special tax district for the area.

“I know you’re concerned about your property values” going down, Gonzalez said. “If you have an HOA (homeowners association), hopefully your values will be sustained and even go up.”

I’m sure there are a lot of people who live close to the golf course who would be perfectly happy to see their property values go down. Property taxes on a $300,000 home are about $750 a month right now, and they’re only going to go up. The only way that tax burden will go down is if property values go down.

Lots of people who live in those houses are going to die in those houses. They’re not selling. They’re not moving out.

And good luck finding a buyer if you want to sell.

When that golf course reverts to desert, that neighborhood will look like Montana Vista. Or Santa Teresa.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


  1. The homeowners in the area have rejected supporting VHCC&GC many times over the past years. I doubt they will form a private equity to support it. It is City Property and the City has reminded folks in the area of that enough that it finally irritated those few who did patronize and support it.

  2. That whole thing with the golf course is a mess, but one small point I wanted to make is that the folks living around it may not see a significant reduction in their taxes even if the course turns into a desert. That’s because even though Texas is supposed to tax you on 100% of your property value, it is widely acknowledged that homes often aren’t appraised at their “fair market value” by entities like CAD.

    Bizarrely, the folks around the golf course wouldn’t necessarily see changes to their appraised values as per CAD because often those values didn’t take into account the benefit of them living near a nice golf course even if their realtors could bump up the price when it came time to sell. What’s worse is that they quite possibly wouldn’t be able to fight their CAD appraisals with a private appraisal because it could still be higher than their current CAD appraised value.

    At the end of the day it doesn’t matter all that much, but I figured it was worth pointing out that by not supporting the golf course these folks may be losing out financially if they want to sell their homes even if they don’t gain anything on the tax side of the equation. It’s a crappy situation to be in.

  3. I’ve always thought golf courses were spectacularly wasteful, but Veblen teaches us that wasteful consumption brings status. :-\

    I hope golf courses in the desert don’t get a sweetheart water rate as they do in some other places. No reason for everyone to subsidize leisure activities of the affluent.

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