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San Mateo County To Explore Takeover Of Sharp Park Golf Course

PACIFICA (CBS SF) -- The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to explore the possibility of taking over management of Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica.

The 417-acre 18-hole course—one of just two public golf courses in San Mateo County—is currently managed and operated by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

The oceanfront course has recently come under fire from environmental groups who contend that golfing activities are threatening an important habitat for the San Francisco garter snake, an endangered species, and the California red-legged frog, a threatened species.

Environmental groups filed a lawsuit to close the course, citing irreparable harm to the two species. The suit is scheduled to go to trial in San Francisco in July.

Golf enthusiasts Tuesday showed up at the supervisors' meeting to support the county's efforts to take over management of the course, saying that it offers an affordable and popular recreational activity for residents and visitors to the San Mateo County Coast.

Green fees at Sharp Park are among the lowest for an 18-hole course in the Bay Area, Assistant County Manager David Holland said.

Board President Adrienne Tissier echoed the comments of other supervisors who said there should be a way to protect habitat for the endangered and threatened species as well as revitalize the course for the public.

"There's still a lot to look at, there's still a lot to resolve," Tissier said.

"If it does pencil out, it really would be a win-win for all of us," she said.

Supervisor Don Horsley called Sharp Park Golf Course "the heart and soul of Pacifica," and Supervisor Rose Jacobs-Gibson said she believed there was a way for golf and habitat to coexist.

All five supervisors supported the idea of moving forward with negotiations to take over management of the course from the city of San Francisco and exploring various aspects of running the facility, from financing to habitat improvements to reconstruction.

Holland said if talks with the city proceeded expeditiously, the county could potentially take over managing the course on an interim basis as early as this fall.

Environmental review and course reconstruction would take at least three years, Holland said.

In addition to its recreational popularity and environmental importance, Sharp Park has also been noted for its historical significance, Holland said.

It was one of the very few public courses designed by golf course architect Alister MacKenzie, who is most renowned for designing elite private courses like Augusta National Golf Course, which hosts the Masters Tournament.

Sharp Park originally opened in 1932 and currently hosts an annual 50,000 rounds of golf, Holland said.

In his comments in support of moving forward with negotiations, Supervisor Dave Pine said that leaving Sharp Park the way it is would do little to benefit the environment or the golf course.

"There's no doubt that San Mateo County could manage the course better," Pine said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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