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Judge to Hear Arguments for Early End to Sharp Park Lawsuit

Plaintiffs and defendants in the lawsuit, which has stretched since mid-2011, will give oral arguments for a summary judgment, one of which could curtail golf at Sharp Park.

 

A federal judge will hear oral arguments for a summary judgment from both sides of a lawsuit over alleged Environmental Protection Act violations at on Friday, April 20.

The plaintiffs, a group of conservation groups led by Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity and including San Francisco-based Wild Equity Institute, the Sierra Club and other organizations, has asked Judge Susan Illston for a summary judgment that golf course activities at Sharp Park illegally kill California Red-Legged Frogs and the San Francisco Garter Snake, both federally protected species. The City and County of San Francisco along with the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, defendants in the case, deny the conservation groups’ claim and filed their own motion for a summary judgment that the lawsuit is baseless. 

If plaintiffs prevail Friday, golf could be curtailed or ceased on part or all of Sharp Park.

The lawsuit has been . In the complaint, conservation groups allege that regular golf course activities, such as pumping water off the course, which floods during the winter, damages frog egg masses, and that snakes are killed when the turf is mowed. Without an incidental take permit, a qualification given by the Environmental Protection Agency that allows, under controlled circumstances, an organization to kill members of an endangered or protected species during the course of their affairs, these golf activities are illegal, plaintiffs alleged. 

Conservationists tried to temporarily freeze golfing at Sharp Park until the lawsuit was decided in November by for a preliminary injunction, but Judge Illston denied the request.

“[The plaintiffs] failed to meet their burden in ‘showing irreparable harm to the California Red-Legged Frog or the San Francisco Garter Snake,’” she wrote in her denial of the injunction.

In light of that decision, San Francisco and the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance claim that the plaintiffs lack justification for this lawsuit.

“The lawyers for the City and the Public Golf Alliance are now arguing that the plaintiffs lack ‘standing’ to bring suit to close the course,” the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance wrote in a press release.  

Oral arguments by plaintiffs and defendants will be heard at 9:00a.m. in Department 10 of the United States District Court, Northern District of California, located at 450 Golden Gate Ave., Floor 19, San Francisco.

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Paul Slavin April 18, 2012 at 03:59 PM
It's ironic that even as a few misguided eco-extremists attempt to fiddle the legal system, hundreds of Sharp Park supporters will be celebrating the historic course's 80th anniversary on May 19. That's 80 yrars of healthy, relaxing, rewarding recreation for workingmen and women, seniors and students. Paul Slavin
shannon April 23, 2012 at 02:28 AM
misguided eco extremists? All of the plaintiffs listed above are pretty reputable and include one of the largest environmental orgs. in this country. I love sharp park, but this seems bigger than golf and even frogs and snakes - think of the risk to communities of flooding since the natural wetland area is pumped dry to play a game. I think it's safe to say all is based on sound science and research and we should think bigger than ourselves and consider the one planet on which 7 Billion of us live, as well as the species that accompany us here.
ted edwards April 23, 2012 at 07:29 AM
Shannon, if you're referring to the national Sierra Club as the largest of the reputable groups you should know that it's the SF chapter and the Chapter that actually covers the areas from Sharp Park down to Santa Cruz has not taken a position.
Vince Chutney April 23, 2012 at 04:07 PM
1. "All of the plaintiffs listed above are pretty reputable..." Wild Equitly Institute = San Francisco branch of the Center for Biological Diversity. As to reputable, an example of their fine work: http://tucsoncitizen.com/view-from-baja-arizona/2011/06/02/extreme-environmental-groups-hurt-environmental-cause/ 2. "think of the risk to communities of flooding since the natural wetland area is pumped dry..." Some day you are going to have to explain this bit of tortured logic to me.
Pacificat April 23, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Shannon said, "I think it's safe to say all is based on sound science and research." No, it's not safe to say that. The article that Vince linked to cites the example of the Center for Biological Diversity "bending the truth like pretzel dough." And this Patch article quotes Judge Susan Illston's decision that “[The plaintiffs] failed to meet their burden in ‘showing irreparable harm to the California Red-Legged Frog or the San Francisco Garter Snake.’” There are experts in the science who will directly contradict what the Center For Biological Diversity says. I think the question of what the sound science and research says is at least arguable and at most does not support the claims that the Center For Biological Diversity is making.

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