Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sharp Park case dismissed

This comes via email from the Southern California Golf Association's director of governmental affairs, Craig Kessler. He brings good news on the battle to keep Sharp Park open:

Case dismissed!

Those of you who have been reading these reports for the last two years know that the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Sierra Club, after failing to secure the closure of San Francisco’s Sharp Park Municipal Golf Course through the political process, filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court under the Endangered Species Act alleging that operations at the 80-year old Alister MacKenzie designed golf course was killing the rare frogs and snakes that ironically only colonized the property due to the dredging that accompanied the construction of the golf course in the 1920’s.

Judge Illston dismissed all counts of the lawsuit on December 7, citing an October 2 opinion of the United States Wildlife Service that found that golf at Sharp Park is “not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the California red-legged frog or San Francisco garter snake.”  Last summer the same Federal Judge issued some rather terse comments about the illogic of the plaintiff’s substantive claims when ruling against their prayer for injunctive relief pending resolution of the merits of their claims.


Much more was at stake in this political and legal battle than the continued existence of one public golf course at the intersection of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.  CBD chose San Francisco figuring that the political waters would be more receptive there than anywhere else on the West Coast.  They were wrong.  San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, whose environmental credentials are impeccable, the San Mateo Board of Supervisors and a majority of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors supported the golf course in this battle.  More accurately, they supported golf course preservation in conjunction with habitat recovery – a “balanced” approach to the matter.

Loss of this political battle at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors would have been damaging; loss of the lawsuit would have been catastrophic.  There is little doubt that CBD would have filed similar suits up and down the West Coast.  While many came to the aid of the cause, financially and otherwise, including the SCGA, and “many” are always central in any political/legal fight, the “many” are hard pressed to prevail without strong leadership.

Richard Harris and Bo Links, founders and sustainers of the “San Francisco Public Golf Alliance,” provided that leadership, and they provided hundreds of hours of pro bono legal service and organizational effort.  Golfers throughout the State of California owe them an incalculable debt of gratitude.  

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