Restore Sharp Park News

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June 18: Wither SF Rec. & Park Commission?

The SF Recreation and Parks Commission is supposed to be an oversight agency, a check against bad calls made by the Recreation and Parks Department’s political appointees. But today it is notorious for rubber-stamping the Department’s often ill-planed and inequitable decisions. It acts like an agency captured by the very entity it is suppose to oversee.

For example, the Commission rubber-stamped the Department’s flawed all-golf alternative for Sharp Park Golf Course, ignoring the expert testimony—not to mention the vast majority of public comments—which favored creating a National Park at Sharp Park. Subsequently both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the SF Weekly exposed flaws in the biological and financial reasoning the Department made, completely undermining the all-golf alternative.

But this is precisely what the Commission is supposed to do: scrutinize proposals to ensure they aren’t flawed or based on unsound assumptions. We can’t expect the Feds or journalists to do the Commission’s job for them every time.

So Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced a charter amendment to revamp the Recreation and Parks Commission. Under the proposal, commission appointments would be shared between the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors, ensuring that no one political agenda can stack the deck against sound decision-making.

Public park supporters are rallying around this charter amendment at a hearing on Friday, June 18, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. before the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee at San Francisco City Hall. Help our government get better: support an improved check-and-balance system at the Recreation and Parks Department and ask your Supervisor to vote for Mirkarimi’s charter amendment.

New Fence Shuts-out All Recreation at Sharp Park, Except Species-killing Golf

In another Orwellian move, the Recreation and Parks Department has installed a fence along Sharp Park to keep birders and hikers from accessing the property. WEI supports the enforcement of strong ethical principles to ensure outdoor recreation has no impact on the natural world. But birders and hikers have never harmed endangered species at Sharp Park. Yet just behind the fence the Department continues to drain aquatic habitats and run lawn mowers on the land, activities that do kill endangered species.

The exclusion of other recreation users from Sharp Park is about the Department’s skewed priorities, not protecting the environment. This is particularly disturbing because the Department’s own survey shows that the #1 recreational demand is for more hiking trails; golf comes 16th out of 19 options in the same survey. It’s time for the Department to restore Sharp Park and get its priorities in-line with the public’s.

SF Weekly Exposes Park Department's Dishonesty

UPDATE: SF Weekly Exposes Park Department’s
Dishonest Assessment of Sharp Park Golf Course

June 5: Twain's Frog & the Beautiful Serpent will Jumpstart Your June Big Year Competition

This weekend we’re leading a trip to Mori Point to search for the the San Francisco Garter Snake and the California Red-legged Frog: the perfect opportunity for you to see at least one of these species and win a copy of Last Child In the Woods. See you outside!

What Will Newsom Do: Subsidize Suburban Golf or San Francisco City Services?

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will release his budget proposal to the public June 1. A growing chorus of environmental and social service groups are hoping the Mayor’s budget will help save community services by closing the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course.

Add your voice by contacting the Board of Supervisors & the Mayor. Demand that the City stop subsidizing suburban golf in San Mateo County by closing Sharp Park Golf Course and reinvesting the money saved back in our neighborhoods, where the money belongs.

WEI Executive Director Brent Plater Speaks at a Budget Justice Rally May 26

San Francisco is poised to cut millions from community centers and neighborhood services this year to close the City’s budget deficit.

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WEI Engages Allies to Restore Sharp Park

As San Francisco proposes massive cuts to city services, more and more residents are demanding that San Francisco close the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course.

WEI Allies: Bring Our Money Back

San Francisco is proposing massive cuts to youth services while privatizing our parks and open spaces. These cuts will disproportionately impact poor, disenfranchised communities in San Francisco, precisely when services are needed to offset the impacts of the financial crisis.

Yet at Sharp Park, San Francisco continues to subsidize suburban golf in San Mateo County by up to $300,000 each year, and is planning to spend tens-of-millions more to try and build an elite golf course on the property.

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Congresswoman Speier Slowly Supporting Science-based Restoration

Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced a bill to spend a billion federal dollars and create a new federal office dedicated to San Francisco Bay wetland restoration.

It’s a great sign that, after some early missteps, the Congresswoman finally understands the importance and timeliness of science-based wetland restoration projects.

Now we need the Congresswoman to display the same vision for coastal wetland restoration at Sharp Park.

Wetland restoration is one of the best investments we can make to build a healthy and sustainable global community for people and the plants and animals that accompany us on Earth, particularly in coastal areas that will be affected by sea level rise.

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WEI Collaborators in the News

At the Wild Equity Institute we are fortunate to collaborate with some of the most accomplished environmentalists on Earth, and many of them have been making wonderful news recently.

Dr. Peter Baye was recently featured in this article about the California Seablite, a GGNP Endangered Species Big Year species. Dr. Baye is a preeminent coastal ecologist who has prepared the scientific rationale for sustainable restoration options at Sharp Park. You can watch him in action here:

John Muir Laws, one of the great artist and illustrators of the natural world, helped WEI highlight the fate of the San Francisco Lessingia in 2008 with a field sketching class using wild Lessingia as the model. Now he’s produced these foldout guides of local flora and fauna. They should be outstanding aids to help people see and care for the planet.

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Strange and Sorrowful: Golf Ball, Other Ocean Debris Found in Dead Gray Whale

The Cascadia Research Collective reports that a dead Gray Whale stranded in Puget Sound this week contained a large amount of ocean debris in its stomach when it died: including a golf ball.

This is the fifth Gray Whale stranding in Puget Sound this season. Although the whale’s cause of death can’t be declared definitively, researchers called the debris in the whale’s stomach a sign of our poor ocean stewardship.

Gray Whales are no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act, but still face many threats. The Wild Equity Institute’s staff and board have partnered with the Cascadia Research Collective’s scientists to protect whales on many occasions in the past.

San Francisco Golf Program Covers-up Golf Course Losses


New documents obtained through San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance show that the controversial Sharp Park Golf Course is predicted to lose money yet again this upcoming fiscal year: despite the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s presentation on April 1st to the Recreation and Parks Commission claiming otherwise.

Yet the Department is proposing to continue subsidizing suburban golf in San Mateo County while cutting nearly 4 million dollars from San Francisco’s urban recreation programs and services.

The new documents provide more support for creating a better public park at Sharp Park by transferring ownership to the National Park Service, which already owns adjacent lands.

Watch “The Restoration Vision” to learn more
about sustainable solutions at Sharp Park

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Pacifica Quarry Sold, Development Threat Continues

The San Mateo County Times reports that the privately-owned Pacifica quarry, located just south of the Golden Gate National Parks’ Mori Point, has been sold to a real estate investment affiliate.

Plans for the quarry are unclear, but the threat of development will remain until the lands are protected and incorporated into the Golden Gate National Parks.

Restoring Sharp Park, which is located just north of Mori Point, has therefore never been more urgent: as the surrounding private lands are developed and degraded, the long-term survival of the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog may depend upon Sharp Park restoration.

This is why the Wild Equity Institute has advocated for managing Sharp Park, Mori Point, and the Pacifica quarry as a single conservation unit under the National Park Service’s direction. This would allow the Park Service to open the first San Mateo County visitor center for the Golden Gate National Parks. Such a plan would preserve endangered species while stimulating the local economy, and allow us to replace an under-used, money-losing golf course with recreational opportunities modern Bay Area residents actually demand.

Watch “Twain’s Frog & the Beautiful Serpent” and learn more about the endangered species at Sharp Park! Watch “The Restoration Vision” to learn why we should create a national park at Sharp Park!

The ongoing development threat at the Pacifica quarry has also been one of the largest criticisms of San Francisco’s alternative plan for Sharp Park. The cornerstone of the plan is evicting both endangered species from the controversial Sharp Park golf course and forcing them to move to Mori Point and the Pacifica quarry lands.

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Two New Articles Document Continued Decline of Bay Area Golf Market

Two new media articles indicate that the Bay Area’s golf market continues to collapse, adding more pressure on San Mateo and San Francisco Counties to close the money-losing, endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course and replace it with a park everyone can enjoy.

“The Bay Area golf market is violating a fundamental law: the law of supply and demand,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “There are too many golf courses and not enough golfers, and that’s why it’s time to restore Sharp Park: we can build a better, more sustainable park that everyone can enjoy while stabilizing the golf market before better golf courses are forced to close.”

A Restoration Vision for Sharp Park

An article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat explains that the recession, an oversupply of golf courses, and the ongoing decline in golf’s popularity has forced several courses into bankruptcy, and highlights one course where a $3.1 million dollar investment failed to attract additional players, resulting in ongoing deficits.

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Pacifica Climate Committee Urges Further Study at Sharp Park

The Pacifica Tribune recently reported on a letter written by Pacifica’s Climate Committee urging San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department to consider how climate change and sea level rise will impact the viability of the controversial Sharp Park Golf Course.

In the letter the Committee states that the Department’s all-golf alternative report for Sharp Park “omitted any analysis of sea-level rise and climate change impacts” and that “therefore the scope of this report is too narrow upon which to base long-term planning decisions.” The Committee urged San Francisco to “commit to long-term planning for the impacts of sea-level rise and climate change to Sharp Park and to delay any planning decisions regarding Sharp Park until such planning is complete.”

A Restoration Vision for Sharp Park.

Sharp Park Golf Course is unsustainable economically and environmentally. Golf advocates are therefore pushing to privatize course management while armoring Sharp Park’s coastline at public expense—to the detriment of coastal access, endangered species, and the sustainability of our beaches. But we can build a better public park at Sharp Park if we all demand that the Recreation and Parks Department do so. Download and send in a community support letter today and join our growing coalition of groups working for a better solution to the golf course’s numerous problems.

This Week's Big Year Trips

We’ve got three great trips for you this week that will help you see and save our imperiled neighbors:

  • Spotted Owls After Dark. Sunday, February 14, 2010, 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.: After hours at Muir Woods when no one is around, hear the water in the creek, the gentle drops of redwood seeds on tanoak leaves, and learn how protecting nesting northern spotted owl led to the National Park Service’s efforts to preserve the natural soundscape of Muir Woods. Bring a flashlight, dress in layers, and wear sturdy shoes. Heavy rain cancels the trip. Meet at Muir Woods National Monument Visitor Center. Park entrances fees apply, but the trip is free. Reservations required; click here or call 415-388-2596.

Feds Stand Up for Endangered Species at Sharp Park

In a meeting organized by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who continues to pursue a public bailout of the money-losing and endangered species-killing Sharp Park Golf Course, federal agencies delivered a serious blow to the controversial all-golf alternative for Sharp Park promoted by San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department.

Calling the City’s all-golf proposal a mitigation plan for the golf course’s killing of endangered species rather than a species recovery plan, federal officials stated that San Francisco could not pursue the all-golf alternative unless it invested millions in trust to pay for maintenance of restored areas and obtained ownership of adjacent private lands where the City intends to relegate future generations of California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes.

We all deserve better than the City’s myopic plan for Sharp Park, and with continued support from federal agencies we will build a better public park for all. Please call Congresswoman Speier and e-mail San Francisco officials and ask them to stop the golf bailout and start building a better public park at Sharp Park!

Watch “Twain’s Frog & the Beautiful Serpent” and learn more about the endangered species at Sharp Park! Watch “The Restoration Vision” to learn why we should create a national park at Sharp Park!

This Week's Big Year Trips

We’ve got two exciting trips this week to help you see and save the GGNP’s endangered species. Hope to see you outside!

Congresswoman Jackie Speier's Orwellian Turn at Sharp Park

Thanks to your support, Congresswoman Jackie Speier sent this constituent letter to Wild Equity Institute members and supporters on December 4, 2009, announcing that there is “no federal money available” to bailout Sharp Park Golf Course, and stating that Sharp Park’s “frog and snake habitat could eventually become federal property and/or be managed by the National Park Service.” We were proud to see our Congresswoman make such a profound commitment to restore Sharp Park.

A Restoration Vision for Sharp Park.

But recently released documents paint a different picture of the Congresswoman’s position. The documents show that on December 1, 2009, the Congresswoman submitted a $5,000,000 funding request for a federal financial bailout of the golf course. The request, presented to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, would fund the controversial and fatally flawed all-golf alternative at Sharp Park. The request’s purposes include protecting “recreational golfing in a scenic setting” and “protecting the golf course [to] increase revenue generated on site due to reduced flooding.”

So how can the bailout request and the constituent letter be reconciled? Through the use of doublespeak. The Congresswoman calls the all-golf alternative the “Sharp Park San Francisco Garter Snake Recovery Effort,” ignoring the heavy criticism of the plan by ecologists, biologists, and coastal engineers who have explained that the all-golf alternative will actually harm endangered species recovery efforts. Even the National Park Service has raised concerns about the all-golf alternative, stating that the alternative may have negative impacts on endangered species at both Sharp Park and the federally-owned adjacent land, Mori Point. But if the Congresswoman re-frames the all-golf alternative as a recovery action for endangered species, she can give her constituents cake and eat it too.

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The Happiest Holidays & the Wild Equity Institute

Here at the Wild Equity Institute we spend most of our time concerned about the fate of our communities and the fate of our Earth—and we wield every fiber of our collective being to create a healthier and more sustainable global community for all. But the holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on the beauty and joy we still find in the world. We have much to be thankful for: the successful launch of our organization, the rediscovery of the Franciscan manzanita, and we’re even thankful for our strange bedfellows!

Franciscan manzanita, Arctostaphylos franciscana

We foresee great opportunities in 2010, but we also face great challenges: from climate change to callous public officials to a body politic so distressed that it’s difficult to focus public attention on our obligation to others. This holiday season, consider how you can partner with the Wild Equity Institute to overcome these obstacles and create a world you’ll be proud to leave behind for the next generation to enjoy. Contact us if you’d like to loan us your skills and help us accomplish our mission, and please consider supporting our work by making a contribution today on-line or through the mail. We can’t do it without you: thank you so much for your continued support!

Onward to a Restored Sharp Park!

Despite thousands of letters and 60% of the public testimony in favor of restoring Sharp Park, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission rubber-stamped the Recreation and Park Department’s all-golf vision of the future for Sharp Park last week. The vote wasn’t unexpected, and now the campaign really begins: San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will have an opportunity to weigh-in on Sharp Park. In fact, the day before the Commission’s vote the Board of Supervisors’ Government Audit and Oversight Committee heard testimony about Sharp Park, and at the close of public comment the Committee expressed reservations about the sustainability of golf at Sharp Park and the controversial nature of the Department’s proposed plan. Expect to hear more from the Board of Supervisors in the coming months, and keep an eye on for updates on our legal claims against the golf course & for opportunities to participate in our ultimate trump-card: a formal, science-based environmental review of the Department’s fatally flawed plan.

More Legal Violations at Sharp Park Unearthed

December 15, 2009



SAN FRANCISCO— E. coli, fecal coliform, ammonia, phosphates, zinc, mercury, selenium, copper: these are just some of the pollutants found in the aquatic habitats for two endangered species at Sharp Park Golf Course, and two new legal notices filed by the Wild Equity Institute demand that the City clean-up its act.

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Attend an Important Sharp Park Hearing Wednesday, December 16, 1pm, San Francisco City Hall Room 263

The Recreation and Parks Department released its controversial report about the future of Sharp Park last month. Now the San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s Government Audit & Oversight Committee will have an opportunity to hear from the Department—and from you—about the future we desire on this land. Please attend this important hearing on Wednesday, December 16th, 1pm at San Francisco City Hall room 263 and tell the Board of Supervisors that we deserve a better public park at Sharp Park!

Ecologists, biologists, coastal engineers, & restoration and recreation advocates have criticized the report because it has several fatal flaws: it fails to consider the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on Sharp Park; it fails to consider sensible restoration alternatives at Sharp Park; and it proposes that we manage Sharp Park like a zoological exhibit for the two imperiled species on the property, the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog, by surrounding the habitat with golf and a reinforced sea wall to keep picnickers away from the land. You read that right: the report suggests that picnickers are a more significant and widespread threat to the endangered species than the golf course, even though the golf course has killed many of the animals and picnickers have never been accused of harming a single one.

A Restoration Vision for Sharp Park

At this hearing, you will hear an impassioned defense of the report from paid biological consultants who will earnestly insist that surrounding the endangered species with threats and uninhabitable space will ultimately be good for the species because it will allow us to grow snakes and frogs like any other agricultural product and encourage future generations of endangered species to migrate away from Sharp Park altogether.

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John McCain Condemns Government Waste at Sharp Park Golf Course

In a new report released Tuesday, fiscal conservatives on Capitol Hill, led by Senator John McCain, highlight a $2.2 million dollar federal stimulus bailout for Sharp Park Golf Course—owned by the City and County of San Francisco but located in Pacifica, California—as one of one-hundred projects that benefit private interests over the public good and make improvements where they are not necessary.

“Sharp Park is not too big to fail, and we all deserve better than a multi-million dollar bailout of a money-losing, endangered species-killing golf course,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “If federal dollars are spent on Sharp Park the American people deserve an asset in return, and the best asset would be a new National Park unit on the property that provides recreational opportunities everyone can enjoy, not just golfers.”

Currently Sharp Park Golf Course uses over 400,000 gallons of drinking water daily to irrigate fairways and greens during peak demand periods, but as California’s drought continues the Public Utilities Commission has capped sales of water from the Tuolumne River—The San Francisco Peninsula’s most important freshwater source—sending wasteful water users like Sharp Park Golf Course in search of alternative water supplies.

The golf course’s proposed solution would have federal, state, and San Francisco taxpayers fund an $8.8 million dollar recycled water project that would deliver 42 million gallons of recycled water to Sharp Park annually. One-third of the funding would come from federal taxpayers, but three-quarters of the water would go solely to the golf course.

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Important Sharp Park Hearing December 16, 1pm San Francisco City Hall

The Government Audit and Oversight Subcommittee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisor’s will hear a report on the Recreation and Parks Department’s fatally-flawed alternative report on the future of Sharp Park December 16, 1pm at San Francisco’s City Hall. The report has been heavily criticized by scientists, geologists, and biologists because it fails to even discuss how sea level rise will impact Sharp Park in the coming decades and because it bizarrely suggests that picnicking—that’s right, picnicking—is too great of a threat to endangered species to seriously consider restoration options on the property. 60% of the folks who attended the last hearing, including the vast majority of Pacificans, rejected the fatally-flawed report and supported building a better public park at Sharp Park. We need your support again: please attend this hearing and help build a better public park at Sharp Park!

Wild Equity Institute Meets with Congresswoman Speier

Thanks to the thousands of calls, letters, and email messages sent by all of you, Congresswoman Jackie Speier met with a delegation of people working to build a better public park at Sharp Park on Monday, November 30. The Congresswoman heard our voice, but is continuing to chair behind-the-scenes meetings with the golf lobby—and without us—to reduce public access to Sharp Park, privatize course management, and force taxpayers to foot the bill for the environmental problems the golf course has created. It is simply not just to privatize our public spaces while taxpayers foot the bill for golf’s environmental harms. Contact the Congresswoman and thank her for meeting with us, but let her know we need her help finding solutions for everyone at Sharp Park, not just the golf lobby.

Big Year Kicks-Off; Big Victory at Sharp Park!


Mark your calendars! The 2010 Golden Gate National Parks Endangered Species Big Year kick-off celebration will begin January 9, 2010, 1pm at the Sports Basement in the Presidio, San Francisco. The GGNP has more endangered species than any other National Park in continental North America. The Endangered Species Big Year is a race against time to see and save each of these endangered species, with guided recovery expeditions and park explorations all year long! At the kick-off celebration, we’ll have free prizes, drinks and snacks, a short presentation about the GGNP’s endangered species, and then we’ll head outside to search for the Western Snowy Plover, an imperiled shorebird clinging to existence at Crissy Field. At the end of 2010, the person who has seen and helped save the most endangered species will win the Big Year and a cash prize!

Victory for Sharp Park! Thank you to everyone who wrote messages and attended the Recreation and Park Commission hearing last Thursday. About 60% of the numerous speakers came to support a new national park at Sharp Park, and we convinced the Commission to table Phil Ginsburg’s preposterous and unjust all-golf alternative: for now. We also successfully demanded that a scientific peer review be conducted on Ginsburg’s alternative. This was a major step forward in creating a better public park at Sharp Park, a park that protects the environment, protects our communities from climate change, and provides recreational opportunities everyone can enjoy. If you haven’t taken action yet, you can do so here.

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Attend The Hearing on Sharp Park Thursday Nov. 19, 2pm San Francisco City Hall!

Thank you for your help creating a new national park at Sharp Park!

If you do one thing this month to build a new national park at Sharp Park, make it this: attend the Recreation and Parks Commission hearing tomorrow, Thursday November 19, 2pm, at San Francisco’s City Hall, Room 416.

At this hearing, the Recreation and Parks Department’s General Manager Phil Ginsburg will recommend that San Francisco move forward with an all-golf alternative at Sharp Park. This alternative would reduce recreational access to the site, divert millions of taxpayer dollars from our neighborhood parks and the recreational activities Bay Area residents actually demand, and ensure that the endangered species on the property are lost forever. We can stop this proposal from being adopted, but only if you stand up for the “underfrog” by attending this hearing and telling the Commission that we deserve a better, more sustainable future at Sharp Park.

And we can do better: if we restore Sharp Park in partnership with the National Park Service, we can provide recreational opportunities everyone can enjoy, protect the environment, defend our coastal communities from the impacts of climate change, and ensure that San Francisco’s neighborhood parks no longer face cutbacks because the City subsidizes golf in San Mateo County.

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Time to Standup for the Underfrog!

Restore Sharp Park!


Thank you for your interest in creating a new National Park at Sharp Park! We’ve got three important actions for you to take ASAP in this message: two from your chair, and one very much out of it.

  1. E-mail the Recreation and Parks Commission and demand that they reject the Recreation and Parks Department’s Proposal to move forward with an all-golf alternative at Sharp Park. Send an E-mail now to
  2. Call Congresswoman Jackie Speier and tell her Sharp Park isn’t too big to fail: no federal bailout for an endangered species-killing golf course! If we are going to get federal dollars involved, we deserve to gain an asset in return, and the best asset would be a new National Park at Sharp Park! Call 650-342-0300.
  3. Attend the Recreation and Parks Commission hearing on November 19, 2pm at San Francisco’s City Hall, Room 416, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, in San Francisco. Tell the Commission we deserve better than the all-golf alternative proposed by the Recreation and Parks Department!

Read on:

Last week San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department released its long-delayed report on alternative visions for a future Sharp Park. But rather than use the best scientific evidence to create a new vision for Sharp Park, the Recreation and Parks Department’s General Manager Phil Ginsburg recommended selecting an all-golf alternative at Sharp Park, and relegating the endangered species on the site to the portions of Sharp Park we know will be underwater as climate change occurs and sea levels rise.

If this alternative is selected by San Francisco, the endangered species on the property will be lost forever, as will the opportunity to build a better public park with recreational amenities everyone can enjoy. You can hear Restore Sharp Park supporters debate this issue on KQED’s Forum.

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