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LANDSLIDE: At risk

Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Threatening Sharp Park

Sharp Park Golf Course, Pacifica, CA
Sharp Park Golf Course 13th Tee

Supporters of Sharp Park received good news on December 6, 2012, when Judge Susan Illston dismissed a lawsuit brought by environmental groups in the Federal District Court for Northern California. The suit sought closure of Sharp Park Golf Course, a San Francisco-owned public course built by Alister MacKenzie in 1932 and located in the beachside suburb of Pacifica, California.

Long known as “the poor man’s Pebble Beach,” the golf course historically played host to a middle-class, largely ethnic minority golfing clientele. In 1955, Sharp Park hosted the inaugural tournament of the Western States Golf Association, one of the country’s oldest and largest African-American golfing societies.

The Court’s decision is the most recent in a string of victories for the City of San Francisco, golfers, and preservationists in an intense, four-year political and legal struggle with environmental groups over golf at Sharp Park. In December, 2011, Mayor Ed Lee vetoed an ordinance, narrowly-passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, aimed at converting the property to a nature sanctuary for endangered frogs and snakes.

In her Order of Dismissal, Judge Illston ruled that the lawsuit was mooted by an October, 2012 Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which found that golf operations are “not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the California red-legged frog or San Francisco garter snake,” and approved golf at Sharp Park, subject to a list of restrictions on golf carts, pesticides, water pumping, and other course maintenance practices.

“This is a common sense result,” said Chris Carr, of Morrison and Foerster, lawyers for co-defendant San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, which has led the fight to keep the golf course open, and 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.”

For more information, see the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance Web site,or contact the Alliance, at info@sfpublicgolf.com.