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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mayor Ed Lee vetoes Avalos ordinance to destroy Sharp Park. Avalos loses. EssEff wins.

Until now, I never really subscribed to the sentiment of this quote, variously attributed to Gore Vidal, David Merrick and/or Larry Ellison...
"It is not enough to win, others must lose."
As the The Golf War in San Francisco drags on, I have developed a much better appreciation for it's finer points.

The Sharp Park golf course was the big winner this week. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee vetoed the ill advised, poorly written, and disingenuously "gamed" ordinance to destroy Sharp Park golf. It was sponsored by city supervisor John Avalos and fast-tracked to a narrow 6-5 vote with the help of board president David Chiu. The veto represents an important and satisfying victory for the people and city of San Francisco, and an equally satisfying defeat for John Avalos.

John is on a bit of a losing streak. He lost his run for mayor. He lost the opportunity to steamroll this ordinance before the new year, and he is about to lose the moonbat majority he has enjoyed in the board of supervisors.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's back up a bit. The week started with our parochial land-use kerfuffle making it to the pages of the New York Times:
In Pacifica, the Angry Golfers vs. the Supervisors and a Back-to-Nature Plan Link"The game is not yet over at the Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica. A powerful group of advocates — some of them as old as this historic 79-year-old course overlooking the Pacific — is vowing to keep the links open, despite the San Francisco supervisors’ vote this week to begin a process to transform this 417 acres of oceanfront land into National Park land."
When I saw this article I though it understandable the reporter would take the easy route and superficially cast this as an Environmentalist vs. Golfer issue. It is an easy frame, the article is only a few hundred words, and what else could he do covering a local issue from across the continent? Then I noted that is was actually a reprint of a local article written for the Bay Citizen. That was disappointing, I expect better from a local reporter.

Let's get real. This is San Francisco - the city that bans "Happy Meals" in McDonalds, plastic bags in stores, circumcisions in hospitals, and mandates composting in residential high rise apartments. If it really was a question of environmentalists vs. golfers, it would be no contest. The reality is that this issue is more about "Environmentalists" vs. "Environmentalists". There is a real and substantial difference in opinion between environmental scientists on both sides of this issue. Golfers fortunately can claim one group of environmentalists as allies or the issue would already be decided. This is, after all, San Francisco.

The competing environmental science claims had a hearing in a federal court a few weeks ago which was lost by the WEBLEEDU Axis. The judges finding was consistent with what we've heard before from biologist Karen Swaim. It is important to understand that those who would close the course are losing the environmental science argument.That fact is lost when the discussion is inaccurately framed as Environmentalist vs. Golfer.

The WEBLEEDU Axis has two paths to accomplish their goal of destroying the course - the SF political process and the courts. They've lost one round in the courts and this veto means the window for closing the course via the political process slammed shut for the foreseeable future. With the veto Ed Lee continues the Newsom/Brown tradition of using the mayoral office as the last bastion of what passes for common sense in EssEff, and at least partially restraining the on-going clusterfuck that is our Board of Supervisors.

There will be a new political dynamic in 2012. Ross Mirkarimi moves into his new job as Sheriff in January. Bad for the Sheriff's department, good for the city of San Francisco. He can do less damage as Sheriff than on the Board of Supervisors. Ed Lee will appoint his replacement. Anyone is an improvement. In addition, supervisor Eric "McDonald Happy Meal" Mar, is up for re-election. His vote to kill the course was nothing less than a betrayal of the constituents in his district. By exhibiting more loyalty to Avalos than to his district he is vulnerable. With a concerted effort, he should be a bad political memory by this time next year. The WEBLEEDU's last, best chance to force a political capitulation has evaporated for the foreseeable future.

I'm a little behind the curve on the blog. Lee vetoed the ordinance on Monday and I am just getting around to posting this now. My apologies to the reader. I have been busy running victory laps around the local blogosphere, spiking the ball and getting penalized for excessive celebration in the comment threads. Some local stories and reaction:

San Francisco Chronicle:
Mayor Ed Lee vetoes Sharp Park legislation
"Mayor Ed Lee vetoed legislation today that calls on the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department to transfer management of Sharp Park to the federal government, if an agreement can be reached. The parkland property — owned by San Francisco — is located on the San Mateo County coast and used for a public golf course. The goal of the legislation is to restore the land to its natural habitat for inclusion in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area."
The Bay Citizen:
Lee Sides with Golfers - Mayor vetoes bill that would have closed golf course at Sharp
“The implicit aim of this legislation — cutting off talks with San Mateo County and envisioning the end of golf operations at Sharp Park — is not a balanced approach,” Lee said in his veto message Monday. “I am returning this legislation with a veto and encouraging the Board of Supervisors to find a balanced approach to Sharp Park.”
Pacifica Patch
Golfers, Enviros Respond to S.F. Mayor's Veto of Sharp Park Ordinance
"Golfers cited the course’s accessibility to high school students, seniors, ethnic minorities and the middle class as reason to keep it operating. “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 spectrum.”
The full text of the mayor's veto is linked at Pacifica Riptide. Official reaction from the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance is linked at Fix Pacifica and the WEBLEEDU response can be found here.

Regarding that last - and in the continuing context of pointing out losers - the WEI press release is particularly interesting. By "interesting" I mean a bilious, bitter, paranoid and dishonest fear-mongering screed. Quite an enjoyable read for the holidays, and worthy of a post of its own. Stay tuned.

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