Sharp Park faces ecological legal action

Environmental groups are for a second time warning The City they will sue because the threatened frog and endangered snake populations near Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica are vulnerable.

The pending litigation issued on Nov. 17 by six environmental groups — Wild Equity Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association and three others — accuses the city of San Francisco of violating the Endangered Species Act.

The 18-hole golf course, owned by the city of San Francisco, was built on top of a coastal wetland. The U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service warned five years ago that it harms the reproduction of the California red-legged frog because The City drains ponds in the area with potential eggs.

In addition, the endangered San Francisco garter snakes can be disrupted or killed by lawn mowers, an issue that was addressed by the first litigation warning but still has not changed. The two species mainly live in a lagoon adjacent to the golf course.

The Center for Biological Diversity in 2008 initially issued warning of a pending suit, but since then Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi required that the Recreation and Park Department, which oversees the land, come up with a solution.

Half a year later, Rec and Park decided on the cheapest of three proposals, which will cost between $5.9 million and $11.3 million to restore the lagoon and area immediately surrounding it while keeping the 18-hole golf course.

Given the plethora of property owners, city officials and stakeholders involved, the decision has yet to cross the path of the Board of Supervisors.

Regardless, the environmentalists backing the lawsuit have said the plan is still illegal.

“We were kind of waiting to see what The City would do,” Center for Biological Diversity spokesman Jeff Miller said. “Now it’s clear.”

Miller said that keeping the 18-hole course was not conducive to the animals’ well-being.

Mark Buell, president of the Recreation and Park Commission, said he plans in coming days to meet with the groups and try to resolve the issues without a lawsuit.

“We don’t want to be sitting in the middle of litigation with a gun to our head,” Buell said. “There are so many different people in this. We really have to get everybody together, then come to an agreement.”

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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