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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mayor Ed Lee Vetoes Supes' Bill Closing Sharp Park Golf Course

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 9:46 AM

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Sharp Park Golf Course will remain open for now -- despite legislation closing the course and handing the land on which it is built over to the federal government that passed the Board of Supervisors last week -- thanks to a veto from Mayor Ed Lee.

The veto was expected in light of the Lee's past expressions of support for maintaining the 79-year-old city municipal course, located in Pacifica. Environmental activists argue that golfing harms two sensitive species that reside at Sharp Park, the red-legged frog and California garter snake.

In his veto statement (available here on the website of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, which advocates keeping the golf course), Lee stated, "I believe in striving for equilibrium between environmental and recreational needs.The implicit aim of this legislation ... envisioning the end of golf operations at Sharp Park ... is not a balanced approach."

The course was designed by renowned golf course architect Alister MacKenzie, and remains remarkably affordable for golfers in a region where greens fees can surpass $100. Its cost to the city is another matter: Sharp Park is going to require a massive outlay from public coffers in order to come into compliance with environmental regulations, as we reported in a 2009 cover story.

Lee's veto is the second victory for golf advocates in the past month. On Nov. 29, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston ruled that there was not sufficient evidence of damage to frogs and snakes to issue an injunction barring the city's maintenance operations at Sharp Park. Illston noted in her decision that "the number of [frog] egg masses found last winter in Sharp Park was the highest ever recorded," and that environmental activists requesting the injunction would have to prove their case at trial.

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Peter Jamison

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