ATV’s on the California Coastal Trail in Pacifica and the future of Sharp Park Golf Course


By on Fri, September 18, 2009

This past Tuesday I stopped by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Open House at the Moose Lodge in Pacifica.

Every GGNRA Open House meeting I have attended typically includes a small militia of curious and sometimes fearful residents engaging in lively trail-use and open- space debate with representatives from Caltrans and GGNRA.  It’s an eclectic mix of mountain bikers, equestrians, dog walkers, biologists, activists, environmental planners and GGNRA staff.

The first discussion I joined was led by a local resident concerned about a new segment of the California Coastal Trail (CCT) that will, after the tunnels are open and a section of Highway 1 is closed to vehicle traffic, eventually link Highway 1/Devils Slide near the new bridge through to Linda Mar.  At first, the man said that the trail would not allow mountain bikes, and when that myth was dispelled by Steve Griswold the GGNRA trail planner, the man asked if ATV’s would be allowed on parkland. He then gave everyone an earful about all the taxes he pays to own an ATV and how the state needs to provide him a place to ride.  As the crowd thinned it became obvious that concerns about ATV rights were not a high priority for other residents.

I walked away from that discussion with a better understanding about the exact location of the future CCT connection from the Midcoast to Pacifica.

On my way to the lodge exit, I stopped to chat briefly with Brent Plater about his battle to restore Sharp Park.  Plater said, "San Francisco is not going to continue subsidizing golfing in Pacifica."  The City of San Francisco owns Sharp Park Golf Course; it is funded and managed by the San Francisco Department of Parks and Recreation.

The proposed restoration includes a new Sharp Park trail that would connect with the California Coastal Trail, the Bay Area Ridge Trail, and the surrounding GGNRA lands. 

Planter would like to restore the natural ecology of Sharp Park and preserve endangered species.  To learn more about Plater’s fight to restore Sharp Park go to:

Brent Plater is the former director of Bay Area programs for the Center for Biological Diversity and served as an environmental law fellow at Faegre & Benson, worked as a law clerk at the Environmental Law Foundation and as a conservation intern at the National Wildlife Federation, and taught environmental law to undergraduates at Boston College and San Francisco State University. He serves on the Wildlife and Endangered Species Committee of the Sierra Club and was recently appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s Pet Management Rulemaking Committee. His speaking engagements this fall included a talk at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club.

Plater received his bachelor’s degree in natural resources and environment from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment; his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall); and his master’s in public administration from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. At Golden Gate University Plater teaches the Environmental Law and Justice Seminar.