Sharp Park: Where golf, archery and jumping frogs intersect, fight a little bit then retire for lack of money

It seems like everyone has a stake in restoration of Sharp Park, the seaside San Mateo County golf course-slash-wetland habitat* for the endangered San Francisco garter snake and red-legged frog, and the focal point of legislation that would reform the Park Code, turn over Sharp Park to the federal government’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and force the Recreation and Park Department to come up with a restoration plan — with options to remove the golf course and to keep it — by June 30, which is also, neatly, the end of the current fiscal year.

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In perhaps a bid for the Most Public Comment in A Single Week Award, legislation sponsor Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and his Government Audit and Oversight Committee colleagues listened to impassioned testimony from Pacifica residents who dislike the federal government, women dressed as woodland fairies who dislike anything non-frog or non-snake, and aficionados of the local archery range who feel that they’re endangered, themselves.

But in this food chain, money trumps all: as Recreation and Park interim director Jared Blumenfeld, who has had the distinction of playing budget axe-man all spring, told both a packed committee room and the Appeal’s reporter, it is simply unknown how much restoring the wetland habitats will cost the city.

And that’s not the only bill that’ll soon be due the cash-strapped department: legislation, also authored by Mirkarimi, is on the books that will require the Rec and Park Department to craft plans to use only recycled water on all of its facilities, to the tune of $8 million.

On top of that, the Recreation and Park Department could be footing a butcher’s bill unless an restoration plan is submitted and approved by the federal government: if any frogs or snakes die on Sharp Park as a result of any work, the city could be billed for every animal death.

“We don’t know what the future looks like,” Blumenfeld said. “The short-term financial balancing [i.e. the cuts] will probably not help us… whatever we decide to do.”

Public comment’s been going on for about ninety minutes thus far… we just heard from an ex-Marine who kindly pointed out that the golf course also plays host to blue herons , who JUST LOVE TO EAT FROGS, before stealing some of Mirkarimi’s rhetorical thunder, via boldly proclaiming “God bless Pacifica, and God bless the golf course” with a bang of his fist on the podium.

If we had to make an educated guess, we’d guess this legislation will make it out of committee, with recommendation, but we’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, feel free to watch on SFGTV.

*Even though it’s in San Mateo county, Sharp Park is the property of the City and County of San Francisco

UPDATE — After about three and a half hours of public comment, the committee passed on the legislation to the full Board of Supervisors, with recommendation.

Some more points we were able to digest:

It costs only $26 to play a full 18 holes of golf on Sharp Park, one of the cheapest venues in the Bay Area for Great Unknowns.

Even so, as reported in other outlets, the golf course still loses about $40k a year.

It also seems many public commenters have lost sight of the fact that this legislation only requires studies to be made, and is not a decision on Sharp Park’s future, as a golf course, swampy frog sanctuary, both or otherwise.

And finally, it bears mentioning that Mayor Julie Lancelle of Pacifica, CA, in which city limits Sharp Park is located, publicly asked San Francisco officials for more inclusion in the process. She has given vocal support to Sharp Park staying open as a golf course, but said Thursday she hopes “this process… won’t be contentious.”

See you at the full Board.

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