Heated comments dealt in golf course debate

Golfers, environmentalists and city officials interested in the fate of the Sharp Park Golf Course came to weigh in on a possible decision by San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Commission on Thursday — only to see the controversial matter postponed until next month.

The oversight board was to consider a recommendation to proceed with a recovery plan for two endangered species at the park — the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog — while keeping the 18-hole golf course.

After being told no decision would be met at the meeting, stakeholders set aside civility during a public comment period.

It has been more than a year since the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental nonprofit, threatened to sue The City for endangering the animals. Earlier this month, the Recreation and Park Department released a long-awaited plan mandated by the Board of Supervisors to see if the park could maintain needed animal habitat and golf, or if the golf needed to go.

The report suggests both golfers and animals can co-exist. Environmentalists were sharply critical of the report.

Golfers at Thursday’s meeting said it was ridiculous to consider spending so much money — between $6 million and $11 million — to preserve the animals’ habitat.

“This report is an embarrassment to The City,’’ Center Biological Diversity spokesman Jeff Miller said. “This is a nonstarter. It’s a deliberate extinction plan.”

When Miller spoke during public comment, he was jeered by several members of the packed audience; the same held true for other people who made comments in support of the golf course. The public comment ran for several hours.

Sharp Park Golf Course is owned by San Francisco, but is located within the coastal city of Pacifica. 

Pacifica Mayor Julie Lancelle said she was upset by the rowdy behavior and encouraged people to trust in the findings of the scientists and federal agencies who had a part in writing the report.

“It’s a sad day for rational thought,’’ Lancelle said. “Don’t abandon science.’’

Another public meeting for input on Sharp Park is scheduled for

Dec. 9, but no decision is expected to be made at that meeting either, Rec and Park Planning Director Dawn Kamalanathan said.

The department’s priority is and always has been to keep the endangered species safe in Laguna Salada, the lagoon within Sharp Park where they reside, she said.

One of the recommendations in the report is to move the 12th hole to make way for restoration work of that area’s habitat.
 

Kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

 

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