Pacifica, or at least a part of it, is falling into the sea. Many of you have seen or heard about the eroding bluffs in Pacifica and the vacating of apartments now on the brink of falling into the sea.
Only one and a half miles away the Sharp Park Golf Course, owned and managed by the City of San Francisco, faces a similar fate, protected from inundation only by a non-sustainable sea wall.
Sharp Park Golf Course was, after all, once a thriving tidal lagoon and coastal wetland habitat. In fact, the lagoon still exists as a part of the golf course, only now it’s essentially a lake called the Laguna Salada. The lake’s ecological importance is recognized by it being included in the City’s Natural Areas designation. But it is not only the Laguna Salada that recalls the area’s rich ecological heritage. Still found on the golf course are important populations of the threatened California red-legged frog and the endangered San Francisco garter snake — listed for protection by the US Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act. And these same species are occasionally killed or otherwise harmed by golf course operations.
Over the last 12 years the Golf Course has cost San Francisco a net loss of $1.8 million dollars. To protect the golf course into the future — if it can even be done in the face of sea level rise — millions more will have to be spent just on trying to protect it from the sea, let alone operating cost losses. Look what happened a mere 1.5 miles away in Pacifica, despite efforts to reinforce and protect that shoreline.
There is a better solution. Right next door to the Sharp Park Golf Course is Mori Point, a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). There, efforts are underway to restore endangered species habitat for the snake and frog. The City should work with GGNRA to develop a gradual transformation from golf course to national parkland (the GGNRA has already expressed some interest). The planning for such a move would take many years of citizens input to determine what recreational and habitat elements would go in it. By the time it is completed, the sea will be distinctly higher and protecting the golf course more and more expensive. On the other hand, a restored tidal wetland/ lagoon system will help Pacifica address sea level rise through natural processes. We should start the planning process now.
Instead, the City is about to release a Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that will propose significant redevelopment work on the golf course, work that may further imperil the listed species. The City is trying to sneak this project through the California Environmental Quality Act analysis process by including it in an EIR prepared for the City’s Natural Areas program. This is a program designed to protect and preserve the City’s historic ecological resources: its native plants and animals that are found in specific, relatively undamaged areas of the City (thus Natural Areas). The City has identified the Laguna Salada as one of those natural areas and so is using this to try to include the golf course project in the Natural Area EIR. But, as we all know, a golf course is not a natural area, so including a golf course improvement project in a Natural Area EIR is the height of hypocrisy.
Please tell your Supervisor that the Recreation and Parks Department should remove Sharp Park Golf Course from the Natural Areas EIR and that the City should begin discussions with the GGNRA on how to transform a doomed golf course into a thriving National Park.
Send a letter to your supervisor at:
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244
San Francisco, Ca 94102-4689.
Or, send an email:
- Eric Mar, District 1: Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org
- Mark Farrell, District 2: Mark.Farrell@sfgov.org
- Aaron Peskin, District 3: Aaron.Peskin@sfgov.org
- Katy Tang, District 4: Katy.Tang@sfgov.org
- London Breed, District 5: Breedstaff@sfgov.org
- Jane Kim, District 6: Jane.Kim@sfgov.org
- Norman Yee, District 7: Norman.Yee@sfgov.org
- Scott Wiener, District 8: Scott.Wiener@sfgov.org
- David Campos, District 9: Hillary.Ronen@sfgov.org (aide)
- Malia Cohen, District 10: Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org
- John Avalos, District 11: John.Avalos@sfgov.org
You can find out who your supervisor is at www.sfbos.org.