December 08 2011

Legislation to Help Restore Sharp Park Passes San Francisco Board of Supervisors

by Angela Howe

Sharp Park is a beautiful coastal area in Pacifica, California.  Although the park is located in San Mateo County, it is managed by the City and County of San Francisco.  The 417-acre area currently houses an underused golf course  adjacent to National Park land and is the victim of annual flooding problems.  Two years ago, several Bay Area environmental groups, including Wild Equity Institute and and Surfrider Foundation's San Francisco Chapter challenged the golf course management plan based on the harm to coastal resources (including proposed reinforcement of a sea wall) and endangered species. Environmental organizations have sued under the Endangered Species Act violations and “take” of red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake.  In addition

to the ongoing litigation, there is also local legislation to transfer the park to the Golden Gate Recreation Area that recently passed the Board of Supervisors vote on Tuesday, December 6, 2012.

Supervisor John Avalos introduced legislation to allow park management by the National Parks Service.  The legislation is designed to improve recreation and public access through incorporating the area into the National Park Service’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  The ordinance establishes a partnership between the city and the National Park Service, who is expected to propose restoring the site with enhancement of coastal trails, public-serving amenities and coastal habitat improvements. This legislation enables Sharp Park to become a new National Park that provides more public access for recreation, saves San Francisco money, sustainably addresses sea-level rise, and helps two endangered species recover.  The legislation will help to end the city’s legal and financial liabilities surrounding Sharp Park management and put the National Park Service in charge of protecting endangered species and providing public recreation.  Although the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the legislation in a 6 to 5 vote, the ordinance must still be approved by the Mayor Ed Lee.

In addition the legislative efforts, the Sharp Park campaign also has ongoing litigation to defend the coastal resources and habitat in the area. Although a judge recently denied a preliminary injunction to stop the current destructive park management operations which manipulate shoreline environment functions and, in turn, harm the endangered frog and snake, the recent opinion opens the door for a successful hearing on the merits of our Endangered Species Act section 7 claims.