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Sharp Park Golf Course has flooding issues as it is. Sea level rise will only make it worse.

New reports say that sea levels are now rising faster than they have at any point in the common era, and the clock is ticking on the opportunity to restore Sharp Park, which would protect the lands from flooding brought on by sea level rise.

According to Justin Gillis of the New York Times, a new report posted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that sea levels are now rising at the fastest rate in 28 centuries. Towns such as Annapolis, Maryland have experienced 394 days of flooding between 2005 and 2014, a stark contrast from the 32 days of flooding in the same area between 1955 and 1964. In just a matter of 50 years, the impacts of sea level rise have become increasingly observable and problematic, and will only get worse from here on out.

The science seems to fall on deaf ears, however, as Pacifica, San Mateo County, and San Francisco continue to authorize shortsighted seaside development projects. The last thing we should be doing is punting adaptation 30 years down the line, yet San Francisco continues to fight against the restoration of Sharp Park and has approved a number of large scale waterfront projects, such as the contentious new billion dollar stadium for the Golden State Warriors in the Mission Bay neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Pacifica has rubber-stamped the construction of both a new mobile home park and a library on the fragile coastline. Regular storm cycles such as El Nino have already caused significant damage to coastal infrastructure, and over time sea level rise will only substantially exacerbate the problem. In Pacifica, cliffs and sea walls have crumbled, people have been forced to vacate their homes, and cliffside apartment buildings have been demolished as a safety precaution- all on the taxpayers dime. $450 thousand dollars have been needed for emergency repairs to the sea wall alone. The town’s Sharp Park Golf Course has been subject to closures due to annual flooding caused by rain, and yet both San Francisco and San Mateo County are intent on keeping the golf course open and even partially redeveloped, despite environmental and economic conditions working against the course’s favor. As sea levels rise, the ocean will engulf Sharp Park Golf Course unless we let the seawall erode and the lands revert to a wetland, which would act as a natural buffer against elevating waters.

If Sharp Park Golf Course is closed and repurposed as a new national park, the restoration of the wetlands would decelerate the impact of sea level rise, since wetlands “break up” wave energy. Plus, having Sharp Park as a publicly accessible park operated by Golden Gate National Recreation Area (like the adjacent Mori Point) would allow the federally protected California Red-Legged Frog and San Francisco Garter Snake a chance to thrive, while also providing locals with more diverse recreational opportunities, saving taxpayers millions, and giving Pacifica an opportunity to make tourism-based revenue on land that is otherwise losing money. Moreover, the National Park Service, SF Board of Supervisors, residents of San Francisco and Pacifica, and even golfers have all supported the initiative to restore Sharp Park.

Bewilderingly, Mayor Ed Lee and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors want to keep the golf course open, despite the viable and fiscally responsible alternatives available, and thus continuing an era of questionable long-term decision making.

Tell your city and county administrators to start taking sea level rise seriously, and click here to tell Ed Lee and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to close down and restore Sharp Park today.

In a stunning rebuke to golfers grasping to keep San Francisco subsidizing suburban golf in San Mateo County, on September 21, 2011 San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission stated that it does not concur that Sharp Park Golf Course is an historic resource.


Watch this annotated audio excerpt of the Historic Preservation Commission hearing.

Sharp Park Golf Course has been losing money and killing endangered species for many years. In September Supervisor John Avalos introduced legislation to transform Sharp Park into a new national park, while providing Sharp Park’s current golfers with additional access to affordable golf courses in San Francisco.

But golf privatization groups who oppose national parks convinced San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department to make-up a case that Sharp Park Golf Course should be protected as an historic resource under the California Environmental Quality Act. As part of this process, the Department asked the Historic Preservation Commission to rubber-stamp its proposal.

However, the Commissioners reviewed the proposal and raised several objections to the Recreation and Parks Department proposal. Led by Commissioner Alan Martinez—who explained that the existing golf course is “a fragment of what it once was”—the Commission could not reach consensus on the golf course’s integrity, and unanimously voted that “the commission did not concur on the integrity of the golf course.”

The Wild Equity Institute is working with dozens of community, environmental, and history organizations to ensure that the California Environmental Quality Act and San Francisco’s historic preservation laws aren’t abused by golf privatization groups. The next step in this process is to ensure that the Planning Commission evaluates Sharp Park separately from other natural areas in San Francisco that are undergoing environmental review. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more updates in the coming weeks.

Sea Level Rise Will Disproportionately Impact Bay Area’s Low Income Communities

The San Francisco Bay is the largest estuarine system on the West Coast of the United States. About one-third of the Bay was lost to infill development by the mid-1900s, and plans were underway to fill another third of the Bay. But a grassroots organizing effort halted Bay infill, and today vibrant and diverse communities ring San Francisco Bay and share this resource with extensive wetland habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife.

But now sea level rise caused by global warming threatens these protected areas and communities. If existing predictions about sea level rise are correct, the San Francisco Bay’s waters will likely rise 55 inches this century, drowning habitat for threatened and endangered species and putting 270,000 people—more people than Hurricane Katrina displaced from Louisiana—at risk of global warming-induced flooding. In more than half of the counties that ring San Francisco Bay, these people are disproportionately low-income communities of color, many of which already live in proximity to environmental hazards.

In 2010, the Wild Equity institute will launch a campaign to ensure that the Bay’s wild places and at-risk communities are given due consideration in sea-level rise planning processes. If you are interested in partnering with us, or know of others who may be interested in this campaign, e-mail us at info@wildequity.org.