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April 29, 2009


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Could not agree more, Steve, well said!!!!!!!!!

Todd beat me to the point. Scientific studies are supposed to be objective, but the Center for Biological Diversity is an advocacy group, which by definition means they aren't objective.

Summer's belief that she has science on her side reminds me of the way creation scientists and intelligent design advocates claimed they had science on their side. Wildlife biology is a very inexact science, and when I was taking those types of classes in college, I remember being taught that sometimes being within an order of magnitude of reality when it comes to population estimates is considered a success. That nobody seems to know how many snakes are out there, or exactly where they live, illustrates that uncertainty. No one should be too sure of themselves when spouting out "facts" relating to the SF garter snake habitat and populations. Those who think they do know are examples of the adage - "the less you know, the more convinced you are you know it."

Summer wrote: "In doubt as to population density and breeding population health of the San Francisco Garter Snake? Contact the Center for Biological Diversity. Let's leave the biology expertise to the biologists."

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit advocacy group. They have not studied the SFGS or CRLF in either the quarry or SPGC. You need a permit to do that and the Center for Biological Diversity doesn't have the expertise to qualify for one.

So Summer, you would be serving Riptide readers better if you refer folks to the Swaim report titled "Status of the San Francisco Garter Snake at Pacifica Quarry San Mateo California." It has among other things a detailed history of the SFGS in Pacifica.

Summer, If you don't have a copy of the Swaim report, I'll give you one. You have my number.

"...Have you ever tried to breed on a golf course?"
um, that's on a need to know basis.

In doubt as to population density and breeding population health of the San Francisco Garter Snake? Contact the Center for Biological Diversity. Let's leave the biology expertise to the biologists and the real estate sales to the real estate agents. I'll trust you with the latter--and the CfBD with the former, thank you.

Video of April 30, 2009 City and County of San Francisco Recreation and Park Dept. meeting re Sharp Park:

Well, what a surprise. The S F Supes meeting was just a predetermined waste of time. Mar and Maxwell supported Ross Mirkarimi's proposal without so much as batting an eyelash. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and the full board will realize that the cost of losing this business, and that is what Sharp Park is, and replacing it with a blackhole of a zero revenue generating parkland is not an option.

One point that was brought up over & over and ignored by all is that the marsh, if returned to its original state, is a saltwater marsh. Frogs and snakes will not survive there if it is saltwater. Tear down the so-called illegally built seawall and watch the frogs and snakes perish forever. The only reason they are there now is because of the golf course, not in spite of it.

I got my SF garter snake habitat info from wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_garter_snake

The 4 managed areas Linty mentioned are places where sightings have occurred, but that doesn't mean those are the only places that the snakes exist. I'm not sure what the difference between a managed and unmanaged area is, so it could be that managed areas only make up a small percentage of available habitat. Or it could simply be that not much effort has gone into counting sf garter snakes, so not many have been counted.

My original point was to refute what Summer's claim that the snakes were only to be found near SFO and the golf course. Even Linty's 4 managed areas, which stretch to the south end of San Mateo County, demonstrate she was wrong.

Mr. Sinai's statement is incorrect, by omission of one word -- "historical"-- as he describes the historical range. The current range is limited to small areas within the historical range, although in 1990 a single snake was captured near Davenport in Santa Cruz County. They are found in four managed areas, all within San Mateo County: Pescadero Marsh, Ano Nuevo Reserve, Laguna Salada, and the San Francisco State Fish and Game Refuge.

You're wrong, Summer. The SF Garter Snake ranges from the hills and coast of northern San Mateo County, down the coast of San Mateo County, and into northern Santa Cruz County. The golf course is a teeny-tiny percentage of the snake's habitat.
It makes much more sense to preserve the snake's habitat in the less-populated areas of the county, rather than destroying a business and recreational asset.

This is the last stand for the snake: it is the largest viable population of the San Francisco Garter Snake. There are a few snakes near SFO, then it's NOWHERE ELSE ON EARTH. Sharp Park Golf Course is home to a healthy population of the California red-legged frog. Both populations can also expand to contiguous land where they have been found as well.

The golf course is used by at most two to four percent of the population. A park managed by the GGNRA is in trust for all people: it doesn't cost to get in and it will be a source of enjoyment of our Wild America for generations to come.

Reducing this to some petty argument is losing sight of the big picture: we are talking about EXTERMINATION OF WILDLIFE. NOT JUST SOME. BUT FOREVER.

There's a reason we have an Amphibian Ark.



PBS series on Extinction:

There are other historical aspects inherent at Sharp Park. The Archery Club has operated at the east end of the park for over 60 years and kept that area clean and safe and an area providing recreation and exercise for hundreds of families. In addition, the whole east end of the park is of national historical interest. From 1942 to 1946, the United States government operated an internment camp (see report in Riptide archives). Any discussion on the disposition of this property needs to include other aspects of the site besides the golf portion.

"Parklands and natural areas increase adjacent property values by as much as 20%. Let's boost our real estate values - restore Sharp Park!"

Can you prove this number?

Does that hold if this parkland turns into a homeless camp? This may happen if Sharp Park is turned into a park. At least now, the course is policed by us golfers and marshals who ensure that no one who does not belong there is asked to leave. Golfers are the best custodians of this property that the frogs can have.
Keep the course open and let's not run another business out of town!!!!!! Remember that Sharp Park employs a staff of mostly Pacificans. Close to 85% of all workers there live here in town. That is a fact. I know, my son works there.

Parklands and natural areas increase adjacent property values by as much as 20%. Let's boost our real estate values - restore Sharp Park!

Under historical (i.e. "pre-golf course") landscape, the frogs would migrate upland when the laguna would get too salty. No way to migrate through the golf course now though, so that natural cyclical upland migration option is thwarted. Likewise, as sea levels continue to rise and saltwater intrusion occurs, there is no natural outlet remaining.

Here is a great link about climate change and the local effects that a friend shared with me recently:

There was a golf course management company that made an offer to manage Sharp Park Golf Course 2 or 3 years ago. They felt the course was poorly managed, and their plan was to turn it into a St. Andrews, Scotland-type of course. If I remember right, they wanted to keep the price low for Pacificans and San Franciscans, and raise the fees for anyone from outside of those two cities.


Peebles had talked about doing the same thing at one point - fixing-up and managing the golf course as a way to attract people to his Quarry hotel.

Scotty, you are so right. Golfers do not go into these areas on the course. Hikers and the public will. What will that do to the frogs and snakes? How much money does Pacifica gain from the Mori Point hikers? We may not gain much from the golf course, but turning it into a ZERO profit potential entity makes no sense whatsoever. Learn the facts, not the falsehoods, at:


ahhh if only some wealthy developer had offered to manage and promote the golf course and take it off both the city's hands and San Francisco's hands. that would have been awesome.

Butler's column is filled with so many inaccuracies, misstatements, and hyperbole I'm not sure where to start debunking it. Its like watching a novice golfer stuck in a sand trap trying to hit his ball out with a flat-iron.

What part of "fiscal crisis" does Mayor Lancelle and the rest of the council not understand? SF would love to off-load the golf course on Pacifica as 75% of the those that play there are SF residents, they would love to pay a nominal green fee and not have any financial burden - like the sweetheart deal Pacifica golfers now have. As for the argument that fees and membership pay for the operating costs, I say "show me the numbers" and don't forget to add in the capital costs (like keeping the ocean off the fairways) and soon we'll be voting for a newer, brighter sales tax - and guess who will be first in line to say no to that.

Some may argue that that the money would be well spent, that the golf course is an economic engine for Pacifica, really? Take a walk near Lincoln Park golf course; within a few steps are shops, restaurants, public transportation and access for hikers. We've got a 7-11. The future of Sharp Park golf course is not an environmental vs. "recreational opportunity" issue - it boils down to who pays to keep and maintain it and the future horrific capital costs. Our fair City can't afford it, so run the numbers and figure out what the membership/green fees should be without subsidies, then let's see who wants to pony up those kind of dollars to play on a third-rate muni golf course in a region with world-class courses.

You contradict yourself, Ian. You can't say that because of the berm "protected frogs laid eggs in the ensuing lake" and then turn around and try to argue that the berm doesn't contribute to their habitat.

It sounds to me like the golf course is already contributing to the well-being of the froggies, so you guys should go try to take away something from someone else that you don't happen to enjoy.

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