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Tale of 2 Cities: Future of Sharp Park Golf Course

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MAYOR JULIE LANCELLE'S SPEECH TO PACIFICA DEMOCRATS

Jack Waldbewohner posted his MySpace video of the mayor speaking in favor of the golf course. Click the link above.

THE CASE FOR RESTORING SHARP PARK 

"The proponents of retaining Sharp Park as a golf course cannot base their case on the popularity of golf, as the sport is declining rapidly across the nation. Nor can they tout the financial benefit of golf, as Sharp Park loses money every year. So they have instead turned to sophistry, claiming the site should be landmarked because Alister MacKenzie designed it." (Restore Sharp Park)

City Council and the Planning Commission have been grappling with the thorny issue of what to do with Sharp Park Golf Course, whose fate ultimately lies in the hands of its owner, the City and County of San Francisco. Scroll down to Comments to follow the discussion on Riptide.

Comments

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By your definition, Kathy, we should close all parks because they cost a city money. Parks are created for residents for all recreation activities, including golf. I believe there are plenty of recreational choices for all SF and Pacifica residents. Does a city really create a parkland in hopes of making a profit?

It sure seems that you can't figure out which argument you want to make. The course kills animals, oh wait, it loses money, oh wait, it uses too much water.

Time and time again I have said to take a real close look at the financial reports. Look at some of the expenses charged to the course. They are very creative, to say the least. The City of SF charges the lease holders there about $500,000 a year for concessions. The leaseholders buy all the concession themselves.

I am going to ask you a direct question, Kathy, are you a San Francisco resident? Yes or no. If you are, then your argument is valid. If not, what do care about SF finances?

We discussed the finances of the golf course over on the thread about the ABC news report, but the quick summary version was that last year estimated revenues for the golf course were about $1,222,000 and estimated expenses were $1,264,784, so the city was estimated to have lost a little over $40,000. If you've ever done any accounting in the real world, you'd know that the numbers could easily have been massaged so that the course looked like it made a $40,000 profit. Given how close the revenues and expenses were, I suspect that the numbers were juggled to make it look like the golf course was pretty much a break-even proposition.

The SF Budget Analyst made the point that if the golf course went away, all the revenues would be lost, but it would still cost SF money to maintain the course. And that doesn't include the cost of "restoring" the golf course in the first place. So from what I can tell, SF will actually end up losing money if it shuts down the golf course and tries to turn it into a frog and snake preserve.

Also, saying that only 1 percent of the population want to keep the golf course is a foolish statement. I have absolutely no doubt that if you took a vote in Pacifica, a great majority would vote to keep the golf course rather than turn it into a frog and snake preserve. It's not just golfers who want to keep Sharp Park a golf course.

Take a look at those who would keep Sharp Park, and note that they are less than one percent of the public, which was deeded the property. The course loses money every year, and is heavily subsidized by the San Francisco taxpayer. Why should all San Franciscans subsidize Sharp Park Golf Course for a tiny part of its population? Who's getting the good deal? The golfers, of course, are having the last laugh: The taxpayer is covering the the real grounds fees.

"CBD & their connection to a philosophy called Deep Ecology."

I expect that there will be a need for some refinements to the philosophy called Deep Ecology. It is important to recognize the political environment that preceded the Deep Ecology perspective and the political environment that, for the most part, prevails in the world: Moneyed interests trump every species (including any less-moneyed homo sapiens) to the point of rendering their environment no longer able to support them. Keeping this information in mind and also remembering the concept of how canaries were used in coal mines, the CBD and the Deep Ecology perspective might not look so out of line. I don't recommend espousing every idea that calls itself "environmental," but I do encourage us all, with our minds open, to give this some serious thought.

Here is a link to the Capitol Research Center 10/05 report about the CBD & their connection to a philosophy called Deep Ecology.

Is the CBD exposed?

There are some very scary ideas here. Pay particular attention to the Deep Ecology
Platform consisting of eight principles. A little disturbing I believe.

Here is what they are trying to do:

" One of the Endangered Species Act, ESA’s biggest flaws—it allows proponents of Deep Ecology to use the issue of species preservation as an excuse to advance their real agenda—the outlawing of human presence on the land, including land that is private property."

This begs the question, what happens if the CBD finds a Garter Snake in the front yard of a West Fairway Park home? Will they try to take this home away by using the ESA? Does that sound extreme to you? If you read the story, it is not too extreme for the CBD.

http://www.capitalresearch.org/pubs/pdf/FW1005.pdf

Thanks, Carl, for the informative post. I had to read it twice but actually learned something.

One question I haven't seen answered:
Why here and why now?
What is it that caused this idea of Sharp Park Golf Course to be converted to a "reserve and/or habitat."
I'll just bet the backstage politics are more interesting than much of what we've seen.

"...that's like saying Henry Paulson is no longer associated with Goldman Sachs."

The guy who ran for President in the 70s and 80s? What's he got to do with Goldman Sachs? I thought he was dead.

[Editor's Note: Steve's just kidding. I hear he still has his Pat Paulsen for President campaign t-shirt.]

Also, I think Riptide should run a little Amazon ad for "Genetics for Dummies."

Again, please report this to the newspaper of record in Pacifica, the Pacifica Tribune, which ran this correction. If the correction is not correct, I am sure that the editor would like to hear about it.

"The Pacifica Tribune ran a correction July 29 that Brent Plater of Restore Sharp Park is not affiliated with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD)."

that's like saying Henry Paulson is no longer associated with Goldman Sachs.

.
Pointing out grossly incorrect usage of terminology is not twisting the truth. "Identical" means identical. "The same" means the same. Both wordings have genetic meaning that does *not* include some degree of genetic variability.

The subspecies of garter snake in our area breed true. Taking the example at hand, male and female gametes of San Francisco garter snakes always produce San Francisco garter snakes when they get together. They do not produce other subspecies. The gametes do not carry the specific forms of genes that produce other subspecies when expressed.

Mitochondrial DNA (which is the small amount of DNA found in mitochondria and not in the chromosomes of the nucleus) tends to be highly conservative because the molecules encoded in the mitochondrial genes are involved in cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is fundamental to life, and genes coding for the molecules involved are comparatively slow to change through evolution because mutations in the respiratory genes result in molecules that are either less efficient in their roles in respiration, placing the organisms at a disadvantage, or are totally incompetent to perform their roles, placing the organisms carrying them in a condition called "death."

The upshot of all this is that groupings of eukaryotic organisms that have evolved more recently, such as subspecies or genetically distinct populations that are not so different as to be called subspecies, will tend to have more similar or identical genes for life processes that are most critical, the conservative ones for which random mutations will often be incompatible with life. Accordingly, one does not necessarily expect to find defining genetic differences between groupings that are not (at least not yet) separate species in mitochondrial DNA.

Here's the point: lack of significant differences in certain small portions of an organism's genome (a small portion of an organism's total genetic information carried in its DNA), such as mitochondrial DNA, in no way indicates there are not significant genetic differences between populations in other parts of the genome.

When populations have outward differences (phenotypes) that "breed true," they have genetic distinctions in the genotypes underlying the phenotypes. The genetic endowments of the populations are different in some respects--not "identical" and not "the same." Preserving this genetic diversity among populations, including subspecies, below the species level becomes important to conservation of not only the distinct populations (who says only defined species deserve protection?) but also to genetic variability within the entire species as the species and any subgroupings it may contain survive and evolve.

Have you reported this to the Pacifica Tribune, which printed the correction on page 2 this week?

Respectfully, John, for anyone who believes out-of-towner Brent Plater is not, for all intents and purposes, affiliated with the Center for Biological Diversity, I've got a Quarry I'll sell you.

If anyone is interested in Mr. Plater's long-term connection to the CBD, I encourage you to Google it.

The Pacifica Tribune ran a correction July 29 that Brent Plater of Restore Sharp Park is not affiliated with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

I commend Butch, Ian, et al. for the civil tone they maintain in this conversation about the golf course versus endangered species, though this has not been achieved without some offline chat among us about appropriate online language. We are all still learning how to blog without bashing. I only wish that someone had a win-win solution here. I sense the frustration that all sides feel in this golf/frog/snake debate, but there is no right or wrong. Aren't we all smart enough to figure out a good fix that satisfies everyone? If so, then we need to sell it to San Francisco, which still owns the golf course. Meanwhile, I am thinking of Sharp Park as Pacifica's own Little Middle East in search of peace.

"but since golf is in decline, and most courses are operating below 60% capacity, this shouldn't be too hard."

And where do we go when golf makes the comeback that it will, Ian? Oh, I guess we'll have to go to HMB and pay $175.00 plus. Do you know that play at Sharp Park is up right now. Why do you think that is? Because it is affordable.

Terra Nova's, as well as a few other high school golf teams, call Sharp Park home. But that's okay, if Sharp's gets pared down to 9 holes, no one will call it home. Golf is an 18-HOLE GAME, NOT A 9-HOLE GAME.

I will compare it to what you like to do. Imagine if you could hike around only 3 acres of Sweeney Ridge or Milagra Ridge and not the entire area as you can now. Is that fun? Is that what you want? No, and we do not want a 9-hole course.

If you do not play golf, you cannot understand the difference between a 9-hole and 18-hole course. Most 9-hole courses are for those who have just started to play or want a quick practice session.
There just is no comparison, period.

I frankly feel that all that needs to be said about this issue has been said and I'm tired of trying to explain the game to those who do not, will not & cannot understand what a special game golf is and what a special course Sharp Park is. The Sharp Park Golf Course and Golf Club is one of the only courses and clubs in the Bay Area that has that true family atmosphere and feel. Please do not take that away from us in these troubling, unsure times we all face.

Those in favor of returning the golf course to its natural state do realize that West Fairway Park, or much of it, would have to be destroyed? We live on what used to be part of the lagoon and marsh.

If we are going to return parts of Pacifica to nature, who gets to decide which parts? Why not all of it? Just bulldoze it all.

Thanks, Kristine, for expressing your concerns. Allow me to address them.

"Ground water has been tapped into and the creeks no longer flow."

Sanchez Creek still flows year-round. I was there last week and can attest to that. Unfortunately, much of it has been undergrounded and it no longer serves as a habitat at the golf course.

"The areas that he is talking about having success are areas that don't have the population we have..."

Type in Sharp Park on Google maps and you will see the watershed has no homes between the ocean and Skyline College.

"AND also doesn't the TN golf team use the course?"

I don't know if they do, but I am advocating a 9-hole course with 2 tees on each hole, so anyone who wished to could still use the course. Others are advocating shutting down the entire course, and this admittedly would require golfing elsewhere, but since golf is in decline, and most courses are operating below 60% capacity, this shouldn't be too hard.

"This land was left by Mrs. Sharp for recreational use."

The exact words in the deed are "public park or public playground." At present, only golfers who have paid a fee are allowed on the property. Transferring it to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for public use (such as Golden Gate Park) should satisfy that requirement.

I hope this helps shed some light on your concerns.

This will be the next lawsuit for the City of Pacifica..

I am merely a product of the Laguna Salada (excuse me, Pacifica) School District and Terra Nova, but my simple mind has a few thoughts.

"First, brackish coastal lagoons naturally have gradients between dilute seawater (near the beach) to freshwater (landward). There are no permanently saline lagoons on the outer coast. Lagoons are freshened and diluted by streams, springs, and groundwater from the local watershed. Red-legged frogs move between slightly brackish to freshwater marsh and open water, and adults can tolerate over 1/5 strength seawater. The region's coastal brackish to fresh lagoons, like Pescadero, Rodeo, Abbott's, Laguna Creek, and others contain havens for red-legged frogs. They are also all occupied by garter snake species."

Would the delicate gradients that he is talking about between fresh and salt water be compromised by the fact that the population above the area is very densely populated and has been for a long time? Ground water has been tapped into and the creeks no longer flow. The areas that he is talking about having success are areas that don't have the population we have (Pescadero has 2,000+ people and Rodeo 8,700+ people according to the 2000 census) with the exception of Laguna Creek, which has about 34,000 people BUT is nowhere near the ocean and was "...a trashy flood control channel..." (http://gis.ca.gov/ceic/BrowseRecord.epl?id=31070 California Rescource agency web page).

AND also doesn't the TN golf team use the course? I believe they get to even practice there free of charge. What about those kids? They aren't rich.

This land was left by Mrs. Sharp for recreational use.

Recreation: rec·re·a·tion (rĕk'rē-ā'shən) n Refreshment of one's mind or body after work through activity that amuses or stimulates; play

"I checked out your reference to the 2006 SFGS Recovery Plan. I did find it interesting that you did not provide a link to it. Now I know why. Here is a link to the Oct. 9, 2007 Update to the US Fish & Wildlife Recovery Plan (circa 1985). No mention of a 2006 Recovery Plan or of Sharp Park/Laguna Salada being critical habitat for the SFGS."

Here is a link to the Recovery Plan that Steven claims doesn't exist:

http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=C002

Just scroll down to SF Garter 5 year review.

Geez, some people will really go to great lengths to try to twist the truth. With respect to my prior post, I attempted to use language and an explanation that everyone could understand. I said the plovers were genetically identical and perhaps I could have said they were genetically the same. But would that have really mattered?

In formal studies we say there was no statistically significant genetic differentiation. So, they are not genetically different—they are genetically the same. Not similar, because different species could be considered genetically similar, depending upon how much leeway you choose to give the word similar. I used the example of different hair and eye colors to try to allow people to understand that minor genetic differences between creatures do not automatically classify them as genetically different when you are studying species and trying to determine a subspecies or a different species. The guidelines are different than if you are just looking at individual creatures. Here's the exact terminology utilized in the two studies of the plover genome:

First mitochondrial DNA study: “Population Differentiation among Snowy Plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus) in North America” (Master’s thesis—Gorman 2000)

“Coastal and inland populations of Snowy Plovers in the western United States are currently being managed separately; coastal populations are protected as a Distinct Population Segment under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, while inland populations are not listed. Our study provides no evidence of genetic differentiation between coastal and inland populations.”

The second study as described in court documents:

"…a more recent study by Funk et al. (2006) includes analysis of microsatellite DNA markers. Funk et al. (2006) found no statistically significant genetic differentiation between Pacific Coast WSP and western interior snowy plover populations using mtDNA and microsatellite DNA markers."

I sincerely hope that this clarifies my position in this matter.

For what it's worth, my simplified view is that animals or plants belong to different species if they cannot interbreed. And the idea that snakes on the east and west coast could be genetically identical seemed strange, unless you had a very loose definition of the term "genetically identical." Clones could be considered genetically identical, but even then you can argue that some of the genes naturally mutate, so they won't be genetically identical for long.

And although I'm against shutting down the golf course for snake and frog habitat, even I won't say that they have healthy populations. I just don't think there's a guarantee that closing the golf course will result in many more snakes, and that it's better to develop frog and snake habitat in other undeveloped parts of the county, away from human populations.

Kathy Jana's writings look remarkably similar to those of Brent Plater, former Center for Biological Diversity Director and staff attorney, as well as chief architect of Restore Sharp Park and the 2008 GGNRA Big Year Project. A Google search for Kathy Jana shows no record of her existence other than her recent Riptide postings. Surely a knowledgeable environmental activist, such as Kathy, would have an impressive track record of Google citations. Odd, isn't it?

Oh, by the way, Kathy, I checked out your reference to the 2006 SFGS Recovery Plan. I did find it interesting that you did not provide a link to it. Now I know why. Here is a link to the Oct. 9, 2007 Update to the US Fish & Wildlife
Recovery Plan (circa 1985). No mention of a 2006 Recovery Plan or of Sharp Park/Laguna Salada being critical habitat for the SFGS. In fact, there is absolutely NO designation for critical habitat for the SFGS as Dr. Valente indicated. Additionally, there is no mention of Sharp Park, whatsoever in the plan. Here is the link: http://www.fws.gov/sacramento/es/animal_spp_acct/sf_garter_snake.pdf I encourage all interested parties to read it. Also of note in the SFGS Recovery Plan is the transporting of SFGSs from the Netherlands to a local zoo. Again, very interesting.

Nice try Brent/Kathy.

"What is so important about a game of golf that you have to kill other animals to play it. There's plenty of golf in the area, 2 top courses in Half Moon Bay, plenty of much better courses in San Francisco, and some of the cheapest golf in California in Colma: $18/9 holes on the weekend at Cypress Golf Course (2001 Hillside Blvd., Colma, phone 992-5155)
Pacificans would do well to play there."

Let's see, Kathy, we will take a look at green fees for Pacificans at Sharp Park vs. some of the courses you talk about, excluding Colma, which is by all accounts slated for closure itself soon. Colma has gone from 18 holes to a 9-hole regulation course to now merely a Par 3 pitch and putt. For most golfers, this type of course does not compare to Sharp Park or any other true 18-hole course.

Half Moon Bay, while a fantastic golf course and a facility that lives in harmony with nature, I might add, has green fees of $160.00-$205.00 per player. Very steep for me.

Harding Park at Lake Merced has green fees of $31.00-$155.00 per player with the $31.00 fee being only for SF residents. A Pacifica resident will pay more toward the high end of those figures.

Poplar Creek in San Mateo has green fees of $48.00 for non-San Mateo residents.

The Presidio in S F has green fees of $69.00-$99.00 per player.

Crystal Springs in Burlingame, which is a certified Audubon International course, has green fees of $44.00-$66.00 per player. You can also play as much as you want there for $400.00 per month. I don't know about you, but that is a lot of money for most of us.

Sharp Park's highest green fee is $36.00 per player and that is on a Saturday or Sunday for a non-resident. If you are a Pacifica resident and get a resident card, you can play Sharp Park for $26.00 on Saturday or Sunday.

I feel that I have demonstrated why for the blue-collar regular Joe, Sharp Park is such an important place for golf. You must remember that Sharp Park does not only cater to the Pacifica golfer. It is a draw with players coming from all the Bay Area to play it daily & weekly. As a golf club, we have one of the most diverse memberships in the Bay Area of more than 375 members in our golf club. Just this past Sunday we had our monthly tournament with 129 players in the field.

You ask what is so important about the game of golf that you have to kill animals to play it?

If we use your logic, isn't all of West Fairway Park a snake habitat? Heck, all of Pacifica, for that matter? Should we not also tear all the homes down in Fairway Park to return that area to its original state?

The argument can made about past construction projects all around the world and whether or not they would be done today. I would say that a lot would not. But because something was built somewhere where you say it shouldn't have been is no reason to shut it down. It can be improved using what we have learned over the past 100 years.

Golf is one of most family-friendly sports there is. It is relatively inexpensive when comparing it to skiing and boating. It is also a game that can be played by most people well into their 80s & 90s.

You're right in saying that Sharp Park is a treasure, one that is unique. It can be so much better with some TLC on the course and some togetherness on all of our parts to truly make it a destination for all--golfers, hikers, and snakes. All of this can be achieved by keeping Sharp Park an 18-hole course.

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