ENCINITAS — A labor union representing hospitality and service industry workers has raised concerns in recent weeks about JC Resorts, the company that manages the Encinitas Ranch course on behalf of the Encinitas Ranch Golf Authority, a quasi-public oversight board.
At the heart of the concerns raised by UNITE HERE is whether JC Resorts is managing the course to generate enough revenue for the course to pay its fair share of a tax assessment shared by Encinitas Ranch residents to pay for infrastructure improvements associated with the course dating back to the mid-1990s.
Over the past nine years, according to documents provided by UNITE HERE, the course hasn’t made enough revenue to pay into both a contingency fund the golf authority set up several years ago to pay for golf improvements during the recession as well as the tax assessment.
About 1,000 Encinitas Ranch homeowners have been left to pick up the difference, amounting to a $2.3 million disparity, said Roxana Aslan, a representative of UNITE HERE.
The union’s concerns echo those of residents in 2013, which prompted the City Council to review the operations of the golf authority and the management contract.
The results of the council review included a recommendation that the contract for managing the course on a day-to-day basis should go out to bid once the current agreement expires in in 2022, and that the golf authority report semiannually to the City Council.
Aslan said that the management contract does not give the company incentive to generate more revenue, which differs from other publicly managed courses, which tie bonuses to a certain amount of revenue raised.
For example, Oceanside Golf Course’s manager gets a 3 percent bonus only if gross sales are raised more than $2 million. Indian Wells Golf Course attaches its 3.5 percent bonus to revenues more than $9 million.
JC Resorts Vice President John McNair, delivering a presentation about the golf course’s operations, said the golf course is one of only a handful of golf courses nationwide that are turning a profit, just not enough of a profit to pay for both the contingency fund and the fair share of the tax assessment.
Nationally, McNair said, only 7 percent of golf courses turn a profit, amid mounting pressures from declining rounds of golf.
Additionally, Aslan said the union has concerns with JC Resorts, which manages eight golf courses and several luxury hotels in Southern California, and its handling of sexual harassment claims at other locations.
Sandra Pezqueda, a former dishwasher, filed suit in summer 2017 against Terranea Resort, a luxury hotel in Rancho Palos Verdes also managed by the resort company. She alleged that when she rebuffed her male supervisor’s sexual advances, he retaliated against her, changing her schedule and gradually cutting her hours so that she was working too little to support herself. When she complained to management, Pezqueda said, the company fired her.
Pezqueda, who was named one of The Silence Breakers, Time Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year, settled her lawsuit for $250,000 earlier this year.
Aslan urged the council to revisit JC Resorts’ contract in advance of the expiration of its current contract in 2022.
Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath requested that JC Resorts provide the city with its sexual harassment policies, among other things, to City Manager Karen Brust.
The City Council also asked Brust to review some of the concerns about the revenue and the contract.