Golf clubs and snakes should be able to coexist in Pacifica’s Sharp Park, according a study released by San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department on Friday — a report that environmentalists accused of missing the hole entirely.
At issue is whether the Sharp Park Golf Course, an 18-hole course in Pacifica that is owned and operated by the City of San Francisco, is further imperiling two endangered species — the California red-legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake. Those species have been found in a lagoon adjacent to the golf course.
In May, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced legislation requiring Rec and Park to conduct a study of the area and consider three possibilities: restoring the lagoon while maintaining the 18-hole course, restoring more of the land and shrinking the course to 9 holes, and completely eliminating the golf course and restoring more of the land.
The study concluded that while removing the course in its entirety would create the most habitat for the species, the most crucial habitat for the species was the lagoon and the area immediately around it, which could be restored while maintaining an 18-hole course.
That option is also the most affordable — about $6 million to
$11 million, as opposed to the
$9 million to $22 million required to restore the entire golf course.
Recreation and Park Director Phil Ginsberg said he was pleased it appears that The City won’t be forced to abandon the golf course, which hosts 54,000 rounds of golf a year, in order to restore the species’ habitat.
“Our objective is to restore the natural habitat, and we’re very confident we can accomplish those objectives without shutting down the golf course,” Ginsberg said. “Isn’t that great?”
“Great” is not the term Brent Plater of the San Francisco-based Wild Equity Institute used to describe the recommendation.
“The big problem here is the report does the least amount possible to help the snake and the frog,” Plater said.
He said the Wild Equity Institute and other organizations still consider “everything to be on the table” — including legal action — if a decision is made to keep the golf course.
Asked to comment on the newly released report on Sharp Park, Mirkarimi said he was going to hold his opinion until the study’s peer review was complete and a public hearing could be held, but said the cost of restoration — and the cost of fixing up the golf course — were still of great concern to him.
“Why is San Francisco paying for a golf course in a park outside of its borders while it’s shutting down rec centers inside its borders?” he said.
Plans for the course
The Recreation and Park Department studied the future of the S.F.-owned Sharp Park Golf Course.
Option: Slightly alter 18-hole course
Acres preserved: 34.1
Cost: $5.9 million to $11.3 million
Option: Reduce course to nine holes
Acres preserved: 55
Cost: $7.8 million to $15.6 million
Option: Restore entire course to natural state
Acres preserved: 108.7
Cost: $9.0 million to $22.2 million
<p>Source: S.F. Recreation and Park Department