San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos has called for legislation to protect two endangered species—the California red-legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake, safeguard essential city services, and provide recreational opportunities everyone can enjoy at Sharp Park, a city-owned golf course in Pacifica, California. The legislation calls for the city to work in partnership with the National Park Service to repurpose Sharp Park from a golf course to a new open space managed by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This would provide highly sought-after recreation opportunities while allowing San Francisco to redirect scarce recreation dollars to neighborhood parks and community centers threatened by the city’s ongoing budget deficits.
“The status quo is not sustainable at Sharp Park,” said Supervisor John Avalos. “Time is running out for these endangered species: San Francisco must act promptly to give future generations the opportunity to see these species in their natural habitats at Sharp Park. A partnership with the National Park Service will make Sharp Park more accessible while simultaneously allowing the City to reinvest resources into its neighborhood golf courses, parks, and recreation centers.”
For many years, San Francisco has been draining wetlands at Sharp Park to operate a golf course on the property, but the practice has led to severe cost overruns and ongoing harm to two endangered species. These environmental problems have subjected San Francisco to enforcement actions by regulatory agencies and litigation from several environmental organizations, including Wild Equity Institute, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sequoia Audubon Society.
“We owe it to future generations to provide sustainable recreation that everyone, from San Mateo to San Francisco and beyond, has an opportunity to enjoy,” said Supervisor Avalos. “Working together, San Francisco and the National Park Service can create a new model that will serve Bay Area residents for generations to come.”
In addition to the environmental constraints, Sharp Park has struggled with ongoing budget deficits caused by a structural imbalance in the golf market. A 2008 San Francisco-commissioned study found that the Bay Area supplies 6 million more rounds of golf annually than Bay Area golfers actually demand. Because of this, public courses in Oakland, San Jose, Livermore, and Marin County have been proposed for closure or sale for private development.
At the same time, San Francisco residents have stated repeatedly that their primary recreation demand is for more hiking and biking trails, while golf has fallen to 16th out of 19 recreational opportunities offered by the city.
“My legislation will allow San Francisco to strategically realign its golf courses to meet the challenge of today’s market, while increasing access to affordable golf throughout San Francisco,” said Supervisor Avalos. “At the same time we can match current demand of our parks by repurposing existing recreational lands and providing a more secure future for wildlife on the brink of extinction.”
Raquel Redondiez, 415-554-7896
Supervisor John Avalos, 415-359-8367
SAN FRANCISCO – A proposal by San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos to give away the historic and popular Sharp Park Golf Course to the Golden Gate National Recreation area is a high-handed political ploy, and a slap at multi-ethnic, working-class public recreation. The San Francisco Public Golf Alliance will fight the Avalos proposal.
The 80-year-old golf course, located in Pacifica, and designed by legendary golf architect Alister MacKenzie, is owned by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. Its greens fees are among the most affordable in the Bay Area. The GGNRA has said it will not operate a golf course at Sharp Park.
A narrowly-focused group of anti-golf extremists want the golf course closed. And Supervisor Avalos is currying to this group, in disregard of an historically popular, well-used, and affordable public facility, that serves the working-class, all ethnic groups, seniors, and juniors and high school students in both San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. Supervisor Avalos’ proposed give-away legislation also ignores two years of public study, public hearings, and decisions and positions taken by every public agency that has considered the matter in both San Francisco and San Mateo County.
“It would be like giving-away the cable cars because a small, angry group won’t stop complaining about the noise,” said Sharp Park golfer and San Francisco Public Golf Alliance spokeswoman Lauren Barr.
Avalos’ Sharp Park give-away proposed disregards two years of Recreation & Park Department studies, several public hearings attended by hundreds of members of the public, and the decisions of the Rec & Park Commission and its citizens’ advisory commission, the Park, Recreation, and Open Space Advisory Committee. Both of these entities have gone on record against a Sharp Park give-away to the GGNRA.
It also ignores the Pacifica Recycled Water Project, a joint venture of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and Pacifica’s North Coast County Water District, which is currently under construction on an $8.8 Million wastewater treatment distribution system, to use Pacifica’s treated sewage water to irrigate the Sharp Park Golf Course. That project was approved by both the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Recreation and Park Commission in 2010 and 2011.
Sharp Park lies within the congressional district of Congresswoman Jackie Speier, whose district includes parts of both San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. She is on record as opposed to closing the Sharp Park Golf Course. Both the San Mateo Board of Supervisors and the Pacifica City Council are opposed to any action that will result in the closure of the Sharp Park Golf Course.
County of San Mateo, Resolution of Board of Supervisors, December 18, 2007: http://sharppark.savegolf.net/data/smbos_res.pdf
City of Pacifica, Resolution of City Council, December 10, 2007: http://sharppark.savegolf.net/data/cop_res.pdf
Congresswoman Jackie Speier, 12th U.S. Congressional District, Press Release, November 9, 2009:
San Francisco Chronicle editorial, September 3, 2009:
PROSAC, Resolutions [Nos. 1 and 2], adopted by votes of 14-1 and 13-2 on Dec. 1, 2009, submitted to Rec & Park Commission on Dec. 3, 2009:
San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission Resolution No. 0912-018, Agenda Item No. 11, adopted by unanimous 6-0 vote, December 17, 2009:
North Coast County Water District, Pacifica Waste Water Treatment Project:
RICHARD HARRIS, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC GOLF ALLIANCE
The dispute over the fate of Northern California’s historic Sharp Park Golf Course took a noteworthy turn May 19 with a move by the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance to legally intervene in the case. Filing its Motion to Intervene at U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the Alliance asserts that Bay Area golfers “have legally protectable interests in their use and enjoyment of Sharp Park.”
Earlier this year, environmental advocacy groups, including the Sierra Club, sued the city, along with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other officials, to shut the 80-year-old municipal course in the name of protecting endangered snake and frog species. But the Public Golf Alliance, with nearly 4,500 members, says no one has been looking out for the rights of Bay Area golfers who have made the links-style course an area landmark.
Renowned for its design by legendary architect Alister MacKenzie, and spectacular natural surroundings, Sharp Park is modestly priced to attract golfers of all levels from throughout the region. Among the course’s frequent users are public high school teams, the Chinatown YMCA, various senior center golf teams, and other players.
Law firm Morrison & Foerster is representing the SFPGA. If you’d like to hear more, we can put you in touch with Morrison & Foerster’s Chris Carr. The lead attorney on the case, Mr. Carr chairs the firm’s Environment and Energy Group and co-chairs its Cleantech Group.
James Bourne 212-262-7470 firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin Brassner 212-262-7472 email@example.com