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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sharp Park Budget Battle Beat Down

Sharp Park 16h adn 17th fairway from the bermIn a victory for rationality and common sense in San Francisco, The Board of Supervisors passed a budget with the Sharp Park Golf Course intact despite the disingenuous, misleading, and demonstrably false representations of those who seek to destroy the course.

Richard Harris of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance summarizes the latest skirmish admirably in this dispatch from the front, included here in its entirety (embedded links added by MW) :

Dear fellow San Francisco Public Golf Alliance members,

Here is our latest update which includes some very good news. Thanks to all of you for your support!

1. Sharp Survives San Francisco's Budget Battle.

The SF Board of Supervisors on Tuesday July 20 adopted a final 2010-2011 budget that leaves intact funding for Sharp Park Golf Course. The vote was 10-1 to adopt the $6.5 Billion budget, with only Supervisor Chris Daly objecting. The Sharp Park issue was not mentioned by any Board member in the Full Board's public deliberations.

Golf opponents, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, argued in Budget Committee hearings in May and June that the golf course should be closed to make money available for social welfare, arts, and parks organizations and services; they were supported by a coalition of social services providers and some environmental organizations and a newspaper article, "Bleeding Green," which appeared on the cover of the June 2 SF Weekly. But Public Golf Alliance members and their allies defended their turf, with nearly 150 letters and e-mails to the Supervisors, and a dozen golf supporters who, on June 21 waited through a 5-hour Budget Committee meeting to give public testimony in support of the golf course. At the end of the day, the Supervisors agreed that it made no sense to close Sharp Park Golf Course.

Since April, 2009, when Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi opened the Close-Sharp-Park Campaign with a Board Resolution to study possible closure of the golf course, Sharp Park Golf Course has won the support of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Northern California Golf Association, World Golf Foundation, the Pacifica City Council, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, Sons-in-Retirement, Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club's Loma Prieta Chapter, Laborers' Local 261, and 4,500 new members of the Public Golf Alliance.

In December, 2009, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission and its Park, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Committee both approved the Rec and Park Department's six-month Sharp Park Study, which found that continued golf operations at Sharp Park would be compatible with restoration of habitat for the endangered species, and recommended restoration of both the natural habitat and the golf course.

With its July 20 Budget vote, the Board of Supervisors now joins the list of San Francisco governmental bodies that have heard and rejected the close-the-golf-course arguments of Center for Biological Diversity and its allies.

2. SF Supervisors Reject Proposed Charter Amendment to Change Selection Process for Rec & Park Commission

By a 6-5 vote, the Supervisors on Tuesday night also rejected a proposed Charter Amendment that would have split appointment-authority over the Recreation and Park Commission members between the Mayor's office and the Board of Supervisors. Commission members are currently, and historically, all appointed by the Mayor.

This means that this proposed charter amendment will not be placed by the Board on the November, 2010 election ballot. Both the SF Public Golf Alliance and the Neighborhood Parks Council wrote letters opposing the proposed charter amendment. Voting against the amendment were Supervisors David Chiu, Carmen Chu, Sean Elsbernd, Sophie Maxwell, Bevan Dufty, and Michaela Alioto-Pier; in favor were Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, Chris Daly, David Campos, Eric Mar, and John Avalos.




Richard Harris
San Francisco Public Golf Alliance

415-392-5431, ext. 203
The Golf War is not over of course. Despite being shown to be wrong on the science, wrong on public support, and wrong on the operational budget for the golf course - we can look for the WEBLEEDU cult (Wild Equity Biodiversity Litigation for Ecological Extortion and Deep Untruths) to look for another venue to press their case.

No one can say for certain where the next front will open up, but it is likely we'll see more opposition when funding is secured for the capital expenditures to provide enhanced habitat for the endangered frog and snake per the Park and Rec Department recommendations. Litigation is in the WEBLEEDU DNA, so this will likely not be over until the legal battle is joined. They'll lose any litigation just as long the The City shows some backbone, calls their bluff and stands up to them in court.

Perhaps it won't end until the people and organizations that contribute to WEI and CBD ask whether their ecological contributions are better spent on something other than the destruction of a beloved landmark golf course that has existed in harmony with the endangered frog and snake for over 70 years.

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