Still open, but still under siege
Sharp Park GC Survives Lawsuit, But...
By Torleif Sorenson on 7/10/13
Back in December, United States Senior District Judge Susan Illston dismissed a lawsuit brought by environmentalists against the City and County of San Francisco. The lawsuit sought to close historic Sharp Park Golf Course, which is more than just a public-access course — it is also one of the precious few Alister Mackenzie designs that is open to the public.

A environmentalist group called the Center for Biological Diversity exists mostly to prevent property owners, ranchers, fishing enthusiasts, outdoors enthusiasts, and even golfers using public courses from enjoying these places. The outfit is notorious for generating most of their income from frivolous lawsuits and similar actions.

The group's lawsuit was opposed by San Francisco mayor Ed Lee, the San Francisco Recreation & Park Commission, a citizens advisory committee, and the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance.

The result of their five-year campaign and lawsuit to have Sharp Park GC closed and turned into a wildlife refuge is that every single motion failed. Undaunted, CBD's lead attorney, Brent Plater, leveled the threat of additional litigation for at least the next ten years.

Originally, Judge Illston ruled that their actions and time spent was "excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary, and therefore should not be compensated." But now, because of a loophole in the Endangered Species Act, the judge was compelled to charge taxpayers a total of $385,809 to compensate CBD's attorneys.

Lisa Villasenor is a member of the Sharp Park women's golf club — and she managed to show admirable restraint in criticizing the fee award:
"Sharp Park is a landmark which has for more than 80 years been a beloved, affordable public recreation resource for the region, with unanimous support from both the Pacifica City Council and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. And it's an odd law, or an odd decision, or both, when the plaintiffs' lawsuit is dismissed and the judge finds their legal practices wasteful and says the suit did not change things much, yet still awards the plaintiffs any fees at all."
Retired aviation engineer Clarence Bryant has played golf at Sharp Park since 1955. He's equally P-O'ed:
"Where's the justice in requiring San Francisco taxpayers to pay the plaintiffs anything for bringing a lawsuit that the judge found to be mostly excessive and inefficient? And now these profiteers are threatening to bring more wasteful lawsuits if people don't just knuckle-under? People need to stand up against this kind of bullying."
These kinds of actions and threats have resulted in the emergence of groups like the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance. Volunteers with the group have even contributed time and talent in such things as replacing invasive iceplant at the 17th tee with native vegetation and plants.

San Francisco Public Golf Alliance welcomes support from golfers both in and outside the San Francisco metropolitan area.

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Image via Flickr, Phliar

[ comments ]
jgideon84 says:
Long Live Sharp Park!! Fun course at at affordable rate. Boo to CBD.
Norah G Fon says:
Golf-hating organizations continue to attack the golf industry. These organizations ... what are they for ? They exist for one reason and one only ... And that is to make profit. They prosper from cash donations, illicit businesses, unqualified employment, and government grants, quite often without paying a single penny in taxes. These terrorists attack the golf industry under the pretext of alleged ill-effects on the habitats of obscure and insignificant species like garter snakes and tadpoles. The golf industry should tell anti-golf activists to get off our grass and roast in hell. WILLIAM H. GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G
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