SAN FRANCISCO – A federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit aimed at closing the historic, San Francisco-owned Sharp Park Golf Course located in Pacifica, Calif.
Brought by a covey of conservation groups led by the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, the lawsuit alleged that public golf operations at Sharp Park are killing rare frogs and snakes, in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.
Judge Susan Illston cited an October 2, 2012 Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that found golf at Sharp Park is “not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the California red-legged frog or San Francisco garter snake.” The FWS issued an Incidental Take Statement, approving continued golf and related maintenance activities, subject to FWS restrictions on pesticides, golf carts, water pumping, and other practices.
“This is a common sense result,” said Chris Carr, of the Morrison and Foerster office, lawyers for co-defendant San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, which brought the motion to dismiss. “And it should lead to a period of cooperation in which San Francisco and San Mateo County can work together to restore habitat for the species, while preserving historic and popular public recreation.”
Sharp Park was designed by renowned architect Alister MacKenzie, who built many of the world’s greatest golf courses, including Augusta National and Cypress Point.
Long known as “the poor man’s Pebble Beach,” Sharp Park has been a Pacifica gathering place since its opening in 1932 and is designated an “historic resource” under the California Environmental Quality Act.
Sharp Park has been the focus of a four-year political and legal tug-of-war between advocates of public recreation and historical preservation on the one side, and the environmental groups led by CBD on the other. In December 2011, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance calling for closure and conversion of the golf course into a frog and snake sanctuary. But the ordinance was vetoed by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who in his veto message called for San Francisco and San Mateo County to work together for a “balanced approach” to save public recreation at the golf course, while recovering habitat for the species.
“With this important step behind us the dream of restoring the public treasure that is Sharp Park can move forward,” said former Pacifica Mayor Julie Lancelle.