Monday, December 19, 2011

San Francisco Mayor Vetoes Anti-Golf Ordinance at Historic Sharp Park; Public Golfers Give Thanks

Press Release

December 19, 2011


San Francisco, CA.  San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee today vetoed an Ordinance, narrowly passed December 13 by the Board of Supervisors, that would have expressly stigmatized golf as the antithesis of “modern recreation,” and put the city on a path to closing its popular, affordable Sharp Park Golf Course.    
“With his Veto, the Mayor speaks up for working-class, public recreation, in both San Francisco and San Mateo County, and we thank him for that,” said San Francisco Public Golf Alliance spokeswoman and Sharp Park Women’s Club member Lauren Barr.  “The Ordinance would have effectively deprived ethnic minorities, the middle class, seniors, and high school golfers of a treasured and affordable home.  Public golf is an important part of the City’s recreational mix, and Sharp Park’s historic course makes the sport accessible to men and women across the ethnic and economic spectrums.” 
The Mayor's veto will allow the Rec & Park Department's compromise Sharp Park Plan to move forward, to recover habitat for snakes and frogs, while preserving one of the few public courses in the world built by the preeminent golf architect Alister MacKenzie.  The Department’s exhaustive 2009 Sharp Park Report determined that keeping the golf course is the best, quickest, and most cost-effective way to protect endangered frogs and snakes which inhabit wetlands at the golf course.    
The Ordinance went against every public agency that has carefully studied the issues at Sharp Park:  the San Francisco Recreation & Park Commission and its citizens' advisory committee, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, and the Pacifica City Council.  The San Francisco Planning Department determined that Sharp Park Golf Course is an "historical resource," protected by the California Environmental Quality Act. 
The 80-year-old Sharp Park course is supported as well by the Chambers of Commerce of both San Francisco and Pacifica, the Pacifica Historical Society, by the two  largest golf organizations in the country—the United States Golf Association and the Northern California Golf Association, and by local minority golf associations including African-American, Chinese, Filipino, Mexican-American, seniors, and women’s groups. 
“The Supervisors’ anti-golf Ordinance is not how San Francisco should treat the recreational needs of its working-class and ethnic minority citizens, its neighbors in San Mateo County and Pacifica, or one of its great historic properties,” Public Golf Alliance spokeswoman Barr concluded.  “The Mayor has broad support and gratitude throughout San Francisco and San Mateo County for this veto.”

Richard Harris
415-290-5718 (cell)
Bo Links

Download a PDF of Mayor Lee's veto by clicking here.
Download a Word File of this press release by clicking here.

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Submitted by Richard Harris

1 comment:

mw said...

What great news. Kudos to Richard and the SFPGA for their relentless efforts on behalf of the course.

The battle is not over, but this was huge.

With Mirkarimi off the board in January and Mar likely to lose his seat later this year, the last,the best chance for the WEBLEEDU's to force a political capitulation just went up in smoke.

Their only hope now is in the courts, and you never know how a trial will turn out. That said, the science is so clearly on the side of RecPark and keeping the course that I have to feel optimistic.

Of course the lawsuits in this battle will never end as long as we keep paying them to sue us. Right now, there are no consequences and no reason for them not to sue at every opportunity. The culprit is the abuse of 1980 Equal Access to Justice Act. CBD WEI and others get reimbursements of around $135/hour to sue government agencies and municipalities under the terms of this act. Small change for a top flight lawyer, but not bad for your run of the mill environmentalist with a god complex. This is what makes it possible for these lawsuits to keep on coming whether they have merit or not. No consequences. No accountability. The only way to control it is to turn the money spigot off.

Fixing it will be tricky, particularly for the politics of the Bay Area. It has to be fixed at the federal level, and right now - it is the Republicans that are running with this issue. I doubt we can get our local congress-critters like Speir, Pelosi, Feinstein and Boxer to consider making this a Western bipartisan issue instead of a Republican issue. It's a conundrum. The only other way I can think of to deal with this is to fight fire with fire. Get some lawyers who will work for $135/hour reimbursement and start suing the park service and city just like CBD. At some point it becomes so ridiculous that even our representatives in Washington will have to reel it in.