Key vote today in proposed closure of Sharp Park

View of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif.

Historic Sharp Park Golf Course, a legendary municipal layout owned and operated by San Francisco, could take a decisive step closer today toward being shut down. A proposal before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 6, would empower the city’s Recreation and Parks Department to open discussions with the U.S. National Park Service about converting the land that includes the golf course into a nature park.

At issue is the fate of Sharp Park, a 1931 design by Alister MacKenzie. The golf course is part of a 400-acre coastal site in Pacifica, 10 miles south of San Francisco’s city line. Though technically in San Mateo County and outside the city’s limits, Sharp Park originally was deeded to the city and is one of only three 18-hole daily-fee layouts run by San Francisco. The course has been at the focal point of a long-running political, ecological and budgetary squabble that threatened to shut down the golf course. The campaign to shutter the golf course has been led by the Close Sharp Park Campaign and the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity. Those opposition groups want the site converted into a habitat preserve for two federally protected indigenous species, the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog.

The community-based effort to keep the golf course operating is being coordinated under the umbrella of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance. They claim that the species habitat has not been negatively affected by golf-course operations and that, in fact, the local population of both animals has been enhanced by onsite habitat preservation. Last week, a federal judge denied conservationists’ calls for a temporary injunction closing the course. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston found for those seeking to keep the course open and on grounds that there was no “irreparable harm” in doing so while the matter is being litigated. Trial is scheduled for July 2012.

Supporters of the golf course are trying to fend off a proposal introduced by San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos to close the golf course. Supporters of the course are hopeful that plans can be implemented for making Sharp Park more economically viable and more environmentally friendly. The design firm of Robert Trent Jones II has been developing plans for enhanced habitat areas and a proposed golf-course restoration. Members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors also have initiated discussions with officials from San Francisco regarding a takeover of golf-course operations.

Today’s hearing is open to the public but will not allow testimony.  

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