Federal Judge Dismisses Activists’ Suit to Close MacKenzie’s Sharp Park: Activists Appeal
On December 6, 2012, Judge Susan Illston dismissed a lawsuit brought by a handful of environmental activist groups in the Federal District Court for Northern California. The suit sought closure of Sharp Park Golf Course, a San Francisco-owned public course built by Alister MacKenzie in 1932 and located in the beachside suburb of Pacifica, CA. Plaintiffs included the Sierra Club and the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity.
A Notice of Appeal was filed January 7, 2013 by some of the plaintiffs. Notably missing from the list of appellants was the Sierra Club.
The Court’s decision – and appeal -- are the most recent developments in an intense, four-year political and legal struggle over golf at Sharp Park, between the activist groups on one side and golfers, historic preservationists, and the San Francisco Rec and Park Department on the other. Long known as “the poor man’s Pebble Beach,” Sharp Park is the historic home of a middle-class, largely ethnic minority golfing clientele. In 1955, the golf course hosted the inaugural tournament of the Western States Golf Association, one of the country’s oldest and largest African-American golfing societies. In December, 2011, Mayor Ed Lee vetoed an ordinance, narrowly-passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, aimed at converting the property to a nature sanctuary for endangered frogs and snakes.
In her Order of Dismissal, Judge Illston ruled that the lawsuit was mooted by an October, 2012 Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which found that golf operations are “not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the California red-legged frog or San Francisco garter snake,” and approving golf at Sharp Park, subject to a list of restrictions on golf carts, pesticides, water pumping, and other course maintenance practices.
“Dismissal is a common sense result,” said Chris Carr, of Morrison and Foerster, lawyers for co-defendant San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, which has led the fight to keep the golf course open, and which brought the motion to dismiss. “And it should lead to a period of cooperation in which San Francisco and San Mateo County can work together to restore habitat for the species, while preserving historic and popular public recreation.”
The Court’s Order of Dismissal occasioned a thorough review by journalist Tony Dear, published January 4, 2013, at Cybergolf: http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/is_the_battle_over_sharp_park_finally...
For more information, see the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance website, http://www.sfpublicgolf.com/News.html, or contact the Alliance, at email@example.com.