More Legal Violations at Sharp Park Unearthed

December 15, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: BRENT PLATER, WILD EQUITY INSTITUTE, 415-572-6989

MORE LEGAL VIOLATIONS AT SHARP PARK UNEARTHED
GOLF COURSE HAS UNPERMITTED POLLUTANTS IN WATER
ALL GOLF ALTERNATIVE WOULD VIOLATE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT

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.

“We’ve known for a while that the quantity of water at Sharp Park was an issue, but now the quality is an issue too,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “Luckily there’s a single, economical solution to both issues: restore Sharp Park’s natural wetlands and let nature’s filters absorb the excess water and scrub the contaminants out for us.”

Sharp Park Golf Course maintains several culverts and drainage ditches which the golf course uses to collect storm water and irrigation run-off, and then discharges this water through point sources into endangered species habitats on the property. The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into United States waters without a permit, but recently released water sampling data shows that Sharp Park’s discharges contain a variety of pollutants. The golf course does not have a permit, and in a letter prepared by the law firm Environmental Advocates, WEI demands that San Francisco put an end to these illegal discharges immediately.

A second notice letter alleges that San Francisco’s proposal to invest up to $11million dollars in golf course improvements designed to push endangered species off City property and onto adjacent lands violates the Endangered Species Act and jeopardizes recovery efforts for the species. The City’s plan has been heavily criticized as fundamentally flawed by ecologists, biologists, and coastal engineers because it fails to assess how climate change will affect the property and because it makes the preposterous assertion that picnickers are a greater threat to endangered species than golf course lawn mowers and pumping operations.

“The City’s all-golf alternative may provide job security for paid consultants, but it’s a pink slip for Twain’s Frog and the Beautiful Serpent said Plater. “Recovery efforts that actually work are already being implemented at Mori Point, next to Sharp Park: we should take a page from their recovery book rather than burning it.”

The controversial Sharp Park Golf Course is beset by numerous problems: it loses money, it harms endangered species, and it’s poor design and unfortunate placement causes the course to flood during normal winter rains, putting the surrounding communities at risk.

The best solution to these intersecting problems is to close the golf course, restore the natural flood-protection features that the golf course destroyed, and operate the land in partnership with the National Park Service, which already owns and manages properties adjacent to Sharp Park. A restored Sharp Park can reduce the risk and exposure of catastrophic flooding events, recover endangered species, spur Pacifica’s economy, and create recreational opportunities everyone can enjoy.

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