Legal battle over 2 endangered species at Pacifica golf course

PACIFICA, Calif. (KTVU) - Preservation and renovation work is getting started at Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica.

Golf enthusiasts tell KTVU recent developments including court decisions are major steps in rehabilitating the historic golf course.

Its cypress lined fairways attract many people. "I love it out here," says Clayton Fandel of Pacifica, "I grew up playing on this course. This is where I learned to play."

Supporters say the 83-year-old course offers nostalgia and beauty.

Designed by Alister MacKenzie, a renowned golf course architect, it is a public course.

But for years, legal challenges by environmentalists have prevented the course from being maintained properly and kept its future in limbo.

"When you have a historic resource like this you don't cast it aside, you preserve it," says Bo Links, co-founder of San Francisco Public Golf Alliance.

The golf course first opened to the public in 1932. Now, more than eight decades later, supporters say much needed preservation and renovation work can finally get started.

That's because in recent months, two judges dismissed two challenges and the coastal commission cleared the way for renovation work which will include improving the drainage system and installing new drought tolerant turf.

"It's literally like you found an old work of art that's been left out in the rain and you brought it in and you want to restore it," says Links.

"It harms the endangered species at Sharp Park," says Brent Plater, executive director of Wild Equity Institute in San Francisco.

He says Sharp Park damages the wildlife habitat of the red legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake.

Environmentalists want the golf course closed.

"The larger question about the future of Sharp Park is still very much alive and we will prevail on that," says Plater.

His group may challenge the court rulings. He says there are still other legal challenges in the pipeline

But golfers say the course and wildlife can co-exist.

"Now we can show the environmentalists and everyone that we are ready to do the right thing and we want to." says Lisa Villasenor with the Sharp Park Business Women's Golf Club.

Environmentalists say they'd like the golf course to be transformed into a general park for greater public access.

Both sides acknowledge that the recent court decisions are only first steps.