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November 07, 2009


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A green hotel adjacent to the new green golf course will bring more green to the city.

You bet we don't have money!
According to Van O'Campo's presentation at last Monday's Council meeting, Pacifica ranks dead last, with the worst streets in all of San Mateo County. He said that to bring them up to a passing grade, we need to spend $39 million and that doesn't include sidewalks. Our sewer lateral fiasco is currently estimated to cost about $50 million to stop the raw-sewage pollution of our aquifers, creeks, and beaches.
Our poor city is crumbling before our eyes. If we don't vote in some new leadership with balanced priorities, this whole place will go to seed.

I apologize for my ignorance of the difference between a hole and a round.
If there really are, on average, more than 150 golfers per day, the Sharp Park golf course would appear to be a going concern, which would make the whole enterprise sustainable. I think that is important, especially during hard economic times, when there are so many competing demands for public funds.

Since there are conflicting arguments about the economic viability of the business side of the equation, the only correct way to know if the golf course is doing well or poorly is to examine its operating statement and balance sheet.

More important, the new compromise seems to be an attempt to please everyone. If it is feasible after all, it should be given serious consideration.

If the golfers don't mind moving one hole to the other side of the highway and shortening two others, I can live with that.

My main issue at this point is San Francisco's contention that Pacifica needs to pick up some of the tab for the redo, and Julie Lancelle's statement that we'll be happy to pitch in. With what money, exactly? And what do we get in return?

Consider the new practical "Hybrid golf course" approach. Envisioned by Nicklaus...perfected by us! It will satisfy all your requirements and then some.

Getting serious for a bit, there seems to be the position among some that a golf course and nature are not compatible. I beg to differ.

Although I would not consider myself a golfer, I have had the opportunity to golf on some of the best courses in California. Many of the newer courses have faced environmental obstacles that older, established courses did not. These courses were designed to be compatible with the surrounding environment.

One in particular is Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert. Yes, there are greens and fairways, but the majority of the course is desert and is protected. Many areas are posted to keep out golfers -- essentially, if you hit into the rough, tough. Of course, there are incentives to staying out of the rough -- poisonous snakes. Overall, wildlife is protected at Bighorn, and building the course has created a sanctuary.

There is no doubt that Sharp Park needs work. I also have no doubt that the golfers can play without harming the frogs and snakes. I also have no doubt that the golfers will contribute more to Pacifica's bottom line than the hikers on Mori Point.

Ian Butler presents possibilities to remove the berm and still protect the golf course and our homes. I think ideas like this are what will enable us all to create a unique golf course/nature preserve. I am not sure why it always has to be either/or in Pacifica; there is room for everyone and if we put our damn heads together, instead of butting heads, we will come up with a solution that could be the envy of many of cities.

I'd like to clarify my position on the berm. I don't wish for it to come down anytime soon, but I do want to see the snake and frog habitat gradually shifted inland because inevitably the berm and pump system we have now will fail.

Bob Battaglio, Pacifica's resident professional hydrologist, has outlined a plan that involves barriers protecting the homes to the north and south of the golf course. Eventually, the present berm could be replaced with a natural back-barrier dune system, which is self-healing and would prevent Sanchez Creek from flooding Laguna Salada during storm events. This would protect the homes better than the present system, which depends on pumps that are subject to failure, and can better adapt to global warming-induced sea level rise.

If the 18-hole option that Park and Rec has recommended is enacted, something akin to Bob Battaglio's plan will probably need to be looked into sometime down the road.

You should be multiplying the rounds by 18 not dividing them.

I have started and discarded several posts on this issue. I (not a golfer but friends and family with many golfers) want golfers to get what they need or want. I want their support on future ecological issues as, with our many new understandings about how ecosystems work, there will be many important questions arising about how we want to live and what changes in our lifestyle might be necessary to arrange for a sustainable future. Whether Sharp Park is the best choice of facilities to accommodate these golfers is not clear to me. The golfers, even the very young ones, are probably better equipped to look out for their own interests and find suitable alternatives to meet their needs than the frogs and snakes will ever be. Some of my earlier attempts at responding to this thread were based on the enthusiasm I feel when opposing sides can reach anything called a compromise. I didn't send any of those because, for me anyway, the jury is still out. I am still learning what I can about it.

I am fairly certain that a round of golf means 18 holes. In that case, you have to divide 54,000 by 365 to come to the total of 147.9 golfers per day. What happens to the .1 golfer is still part of the debate.

There are nits in the berm? I'm confused.

Seriously, I'm confused. Why divide the 54,000 rounds of golf by 18? A round of golf is 18 holes, right? Every golfer plays one round when he/she plays 18 holes. So wouldn't it be 54,000 divided by however may days the course was open to get the rounds per day? Am I missing something? I'm not a golf expert here, so please help me out.

Why would you want to divide by 18, Nick?

The 54,073 number is ROUNDS of golf, not HOLES, so that's an average of 150 golfers a day, which is enough to make it not only sustainable but profitable, as recent financial analyses have shown it to be.

(And I think it's a bit premature to claim that "the City of SF has agreed to a fair compromise." The recommendation published on Friday was just that; nobody has "agreed" to anything -- yet!)

1 round of golf = 18 holes of golf.

"54,000 rounds of golf sounds big, but if you divided that by 18, it leaves about 3,000 full 18-hole games. Divide that by 365 and you get an average of about eight golfers a day paying the freight for all the operating costs. Doesn't sound so big after all. In fact, it appears to be unsustainable."

Fuzzy math indeed. I do not know where you are going with this, Nick. A round is an 18-hole game. There were 54,000 18-hole rounds played. Generally, most golf courses send a group of usually four people every 10-12 minutes. It is not uncommon, especially on weekends, for there to be two to three groups of four golfers on each hole playing, except for par 3's, which may have only one or two groups playing. So if you do the math, that is about 110-120 players on the course at any given time after 8 a.m. Why after 8 a.m.? Because all play starts on the first tee and it takes a while to fill the course up.

54,000 rounds played is a very good number. I do not know where you come up with eight golfers "paying the freight," as you say. And I will say it again: Sharp Park is a park. Is it supposed to make money? Parks do not make money, people. They are designed for the recreation of cities' residents. This is recreation for people, just like hiking and biking and playing Frisbee at Marina Green. Just because a segment of people choose not to participate in golf as a form of recreation, don't shut us down. Support us and the course and watch what will happen: a golf course that will be the envy of many in its coexistence with nature.

Ha ha ha. I love it. Nick has come up with the salt-air theory on why Pacificans are so damn argumentative. Salty dogs. We just like to howl and growl and bark at one another.

54,000 rounds of golf sounds big, but if you divided that by 18, it leaves about 3,000 full 18-hole games. Divide that by 365 and you get an average of about eight golfers a day paying the freight for all the operating costs. Doesn't sound so big after all. In fact, it appears to be unsustainable.

Even though the City of SF has agreed to a fair compromise, we now have nitpicking about the berm. Maybe something in the air makes people prone to argue, no matter what!

"The report was guided by a small set of Pacifica and San Francisco golfers including Mayor Lancelle who want to continue to play the cheapest golf in California without having to drive more than a mile or two to do so."

Ms. Jana, I would not call 54,073 rounds of golf played at Sharp Park in the last fiscal year a "small set of golfers." Golf is on the rise at Sharp Park and that is a fact that cannot be denied. This amount is up for FY 2008, when 51,151 rounds were played. No one can continue to say rounds are down at Sharp Park. Of the 54,073 rounds played in FY 2009, 36% were by residents of SF and Pacifica, and 31% were played by seniors. These numbers are not deniable.

This deal has changed so many times it's hard to keep up on what Plater and his followers are really after. First it was soccer fields, then it was to protect the snakes, then it was to return the area to its natural state, now it is to donate the land to the federal government. First Plater was with the CBD, now he is not. Now he is trotting out some new group. I can't keep up anymore with this guy. I believe he is just trying to build his resume for a run at public office some day.

We golfers just want to play golf at a course that is affordable and close to home. Ms. Jana, if I drove to a course some 40 miles away from my house every weekend, you would probably complain that my carbon footprint was too big, play golf closer to home!!! Well, I do play my golf close to home, because Sharp Park is a wonderful golf course that is close to nature.

As for the argument that Sharp Park does not resemble a McKenzie course any longer, many golf courses are redesigned from their original design. Over the years, Pebble Beach, Harding Park, Augusta National, and even the Olympic Club have been changed a little here and there. This does not mean that the courses are too different, and the same is true at Sharp Park: 14 of the 18 original holes are still here.

Plater has continued to trot out the same stale points now for the past four years. Sharp Park is the only course within the SF Park & Rec courses that is showing an increase in play. Of course, he does not want anyone to know that. He is trotting out numbers from 4-5 years ago. Numbers that are a bit skewed because of back-to-back course closures due to flooding in the winters of 04-05 & 05-06. Flooding that will be worse in the future if Plater gets his way and tears the seawall down to turn the area into a "natural area." West Fairway Park residents should be very concerned about this issue.

Let's get real here, people, and improve a climate where golf and nature can coexist. Because the report did not justify Mirkarimi's and Plater's vision, they are denouncing it. Sharp Park Golf Course can be a national model for environmentalism and golf. Let's make it happen.

My understanding is that the people who want to turn Sharp Park into a golf and snake preserve now intend to keep the berm intact.

The problem is, if they clearly state that, it would be an admission that it was the golf course that created the habitat for the frogs and snakes in the first place.

Has anyone else noticed how it's impossible to get a clear answer to the question of just exactly how "Restore" Sharp Park wants to restore the area?

Mr. Butler and Ms. Jana, you seem to want it both ways. For the frog and snake to survive in the Sharp Park Golf Course area, you need the berm. The berm is man-made specifically for the creation/sustenance of the golf course.

So, if the golf course stays, the berm stays. If the golf course goes, the berm goes because the National Park Service, over the past few years, has allowed previously native areas to return to their natural state.

So, I ask again, has anyone performed a biodiversity study east of Highway 1? Perhaps there is a thriving snake and frog habitat in other protected open space that we are completely unaware of.

Once again, these two species are in my garden every year and I am certain that I do not have the only property in Pacifica that they find hospitable. Why is the extinction so imminent when there is coexistence, year in and year out, on my humble property?

Gee, thanks for worrying about us humans, Ian. If the berm fails, I'm under freakin' water!

But wait! The berm is man-made and if everything is returned to nature, shouldn't it be removed?

My problem with the report is that it assumes the berm will be there permanently, and will never fail. In reality, it's not a matter of if it will fail but when, and when it does, the frogs and snakes will be sitting ducks. In the short term though, the plan would probably help the species recover, which might buy us some time.

Pacficans for a New Sharp Park lead the campaign in Pacifica.

The report was guided by a small set of Pacifica and San Francisco golfers including Mayor Lancelle who want to continue to play the cheapest golf in California without having to drive more than a mile or two to do so.

The snake under this current plan put forth by SF Rec and Park will go extinct. We're in a mass extinction world wide, the 6th mass extinction since life began. This decision adds one more species to the list.

This current mass extinction is different from the other five: it is caused by human activity.

There are many references for this, here are a few:

Reasonable people will agree that the compromise on the Sharp Park golf course is fair and balanced, but I suppose there are some intransigents who won't take "YES" for an answer.

The original McKenzie course has been radically altered over the past seven decades, so a minor re-arrangement of the 18 holes that will adhere to the environmental impact report is certainly equitable, especially if low cost, sustainable golf is available to the public while at the same time the habitat is restored and preserved.

The only way to settle an argument is for all sides of an issue to walk away graciously with something they want.

Sorry, Todd. I was just being silly.

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