Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Sharp Park Controversy



The San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate is featuring an article today by Marisa Lagos about San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi's proposed legislation to turn Sharp Park golf course in Pacifica into a nature preserve (click here). The legislation is being opposed by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and most city officials in Pacifica who were never even consulted. Though I tend to agree with Mirkarimi and oppose Elsbernd on most issues, in this case the Green supervisor is dead wrong and Elsbernd is right. The Sharp Park golf course is a low-priced municipal jewel that was one of the last creations of Alister Mackenzie (below), who was the architect for many of the greatest golf courses in the United States according to the magazine Golf Digest, including its #1 choice Augusta where the Masters is being played this week.



Tearing out Sharp Park Golf Course on ecological grounds is a bit like tearing down a Frank Lloyd Wright house because it's ruining the pristine environment. For photos and an earlier post on this blog about the issue, click here.

8 comments:

Lisa Hirsch said...

Tangential, but how I love a man in a kilt.

rootlesscosmo said...

Amen. And Mackenzie wears it, don't he?

Oliver said...

My understanding is that the new habitat proposal doesn't necessarily include closing the golf course. In addition, I do not think preserving a municipal past-time such as a game or a piece of human architecture or landscape design trumps saving an endangered species. Check out maps showing the incredible rate at which wild spaces have shrunk over the years (be they in SF, the nation, or the globe). Preserving what little is left and restoration efforts take priority. If the advanced acceleration since the 1950s of the Holocene Epoch's Extinction Event won't convince humans to seek relative harmonizing with other species, perhaps the fallout from the 21st century's eventual mass extinctions will.

sfmike said...

Dear Oliver: I feel the same way as you about lots of golf courses, for instance the strange things out in the desert. Sharp Park, however, is extraordinarily "natural" and not overgroomed and it probabably offers more interesting, nonviolent interactions between wildlife and humans than anywhere else in Pacifica besides the ocean.

There's also a class issue involved, and I would have a bit more respect for the "natural habitat" position if they were going after The San Francisco Golf Club where you need to be born or marry into one of about 300 families to be allowed to set fot on the course which is on land that should belong to everyone. Sharp Park is a beautiful place where you don't have to be rich to play at the past-time.

And I frankly don't believe that the garter snake and red-legged frog are in danger of extinction if Sharp Park continues as a golf course. That's just nonsense.

Oliver said...

Thanks Mike, and thanks for your blog in general. Speaking of class issues, I wonder how many low income folks have a set of golf clubs. I agree that the fate of Sharp Park won't doom the frog, but habitat decline is little by little. In addition, a naturalistic space doesn't necessarily constitute viable habitat.

sfmike said...

Dear Oliver: More low income folk have golf clubs than you would think, actually. You can get a whole set, barely used, for under $100 on Craigslist, if you want to buy some and go out golfing with me some time, though I figure you'd probably rather drink your own urine than play golf. Different strokes for different folks.

Spots said...

HELLO Alister!
I need more paintings like this hanging in my house...

Fos said...

For starters, I really enjoy your blog. I was disappointed in the "rather drink your own urine" comment in the discussion with Oliver because I thought the conversation was informed. Oliver brings up a few good points, as do you. It's always a shame to me when commentary gets lopped off that way with a line of snark instead of allowing a potentially interesting debate to follow. You bring up a great topic. And I personally think a golf course can co-exist with the habitat motive. Look at links courses in Scotland -- they're not manicured with pesticides and other contrivances that would, in fact, be incompatible with wildlife preservation. To his credit, Oliver did make that point. To your credit, the point about the disparity between proposed plans for Sharp Park versus SF Golf Course is definitely a great and valid one. As is the argument to preserve a non-elite course like this one. I agree with you and with Oliver both.