The dispute between golfers, the City of San Francisco and environmentalists continues.
Do you support the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department's plan to save the 80-year-old Sharp Park Golf Course, while at the same time protecting the environment by recovering frog and snake habitat in the golf course's wetlands?
Whatever your stand on this issue, today is an important San Francisco Supervisors hearing that you should know about.
At 1 p.m., Monday, Dec. 3, at San Francisco City Hall, Room 250 (the Supervisors' Legislative Chamber at top of the grand staircase), the continued public hearing by the Land Use Committee on the most recent Anti-Sharp Park Golf resolution, sponsored by Supervisor Christina Olague, is scheduled to take place.
Members of the Land Use Committee are Supervisors Eric Mar, Scott Weiner, and Malia Cohen.
The Olague Resolution would sever Sharp Park from the ongoing Natural Areas Environmental Impact Report process, and require San Francisco to start over with its Sharp Park planning. Some say this is a waste, and that the city has better uses for its limited financial resources. The hearing will also consider proposals and alternatives for the future of Sharp Park Golf Course through a separate and complete California Environmental Quality Act review process.
Richard Harris of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance says: "SF Public Golf Alliance has been advised by the offices of both Sup. Olague and Land Use Chairman Mar that the matter will be continued. We advised our members of this further contunuance last Friday, and advised them not to attend Dec. 3. The Supes' Agenda (Item #7) says that at the meeting Mar will ask for a motion to continue."
Those who support voting "No" on the Sharp Park resolution, say this would require the City's Recreation & Park and Planning Departments to start over on the Environmental Review process for the City's Sharp Park plan. This would undermine more than four years of public time, money, and effort that has gone into the Sharp Park plan.
Still, conservationists say its links should be closed to preserve the federally protected California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake. Yet golfers say they have coexisted peacefully with the species for years.
The Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011 notified the golf course that it was specifically prohibited from handling or moving frog egg masses at Sharp Park and must obtain a permit for any golf course activities affecting protected species. The Service also denied the Park Department’s request to drain wetlands and dredge lagoons at Sharp Park, cynically referred to by the city as “habitat management and scientific studies.” Water pumping, dredging and other activities harmful to frogs can only occur if the department obtains a federal “incidental take” permit with an accompanying conservation plan.
Crumbling infrastructure, annual flooding problems and ongoing environmental violations plagues the city-owned golf course at 400-acre Sharp Park in Pacifica. More than three-dozen San Francisco community, recreation, environmental and social-justice groups have called for closing the golf course and creating a more sustainable public park at Sharp Park. A 2011 peer-reviewed scientific study by independent scientists and coastal experts concluded that the most cost-effective option for Sharp Park is to remove the golf course and restore the functions of the original natural ecosystem, which will also provide the most benefit to endangered species.
The Park Department has refused to consider this option, and is instead pursuing a plan that would evict endangered species from the site and bail out the golf course’s financial problems with tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation in December 2011 to prevent this from happening, but Mayor Ed Lee, an avid golfer, vetoed the legislation.