San Franciscans don’t need Shakespeare to know benevolence, hubris, and tragedy: our very own Sharp Park has an epic story to tell.
Located in Pacifica, Sharp Park was deeded to San Francisco by wealthy benefactors at the turn of the 20th century. Unfortunately, Alister MacKenzie—a renowned landscape architect—spent fourteen months filling Sharp Park’s wetlands to create a golf course. It was his greatest architectural mistake: the course’s poor design and unfortunate placement allowed a coastal storm to destroy all seven beach-side holes six years after the course opened, and another storm brought sea water so close to the clubhouse that the City actually built a crude sea wall to protect the course’s remains. This backfired: the sea wall cut-off Sharp Park’s natural drainage, flooding the golf course—this time, with freshwater.
More recently conservation officials found that the endangered San Francisco garter snake—arguably the most beautiful and imperiled serpent in North America—and the threatened California red-legged frog—made famous by Mark Twain’s Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County—are being harmed at the golf course.
For this San Francisco loses between $30,000 and $300,000 annually subsidizing golf in San Mateo County.
A recent proposal at San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors would turn the page on Sharp Park with a new vision: partner with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to transform Sharp Park from an underused, environmentally destructive, and money-losing golf course into a community-centered model for natural flood control, outdoor recreation, and endangered species recovery. The City could then redirect the money saved back to our neighborhood parks threatened by San Francisco’s budget crisis.
Many San Franciscans don’t even know that the City owns and operates a golf course in San Mateo County, but Sharp Park’s drain on our neighborhood parks can no longer be ignored. Nothing could be more prudent than restoring Sharp Park and redirecting the funds saved back to our neighborhood parks where San Franciscans live and play.
With a perspective, I’m Brent Plater.