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Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Study Claims Big Cost Savings by Eliminating Golf at Sharp Park

Posted By on Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 4:38 PM

click to enlarge golfswing1.jpg

A new study commissioned by environmental activists asserts that Sharp Park Golf Course should be restored to a wilderness area, a move the study claims would save millions of dollars for San Francisco taxpayers and aid the survival of endangered species that occupy the property.

A municipal golf course in Pacifica that is owned and operated by San Francisco, Sharp Park was built in 1932 by famed golf course architect Alister Mackenzie. In recent years, the idyllic and affordable course has been the subject of a tug-of-war between golf advocates who want to preserve the course -- despite the large cost of protecting it from coastal flooding and of complying with environmental regulations -- and those who think the city should restore it to a nature preserve.

In 2009, the city's Recreation and Park Commission approved a plan that calls for keeping 18 holes of golf at Sharp Park while expanding habitat for the San Francisco garter snake and California red-legged frog, two endangered species that exist on the land. However, as we reported last year, the true cost of the plan will range from at least $17 million to $23 million or more -- double the amount city officials claimed.

Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute, which commissioned the new study, says it is the first comprehensive, peer-reviewed scientific document examining the various options for the golf course's future. He noted in particular the report's finding that restoring the course to a wilderness area is the least expensive option for San Francisco.

"If we work with the natural features, we can save lots of money," he said.

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Peter Jamison

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