Letter: Contrary to claims, Sharp Park is economically viable


By on Thu, April 30, 2009

CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this article, the net revenue for 2008 was shown as positive, rather than negative, due to an editing error.

The opponents of Sharp Park’s golf course constructed a pair of arguments that lead inevitably to their desired conclusion, that this is the right time to restore the original wetlands habitat in order to save the nearby endangered species. The first premise is economic:

"Sharp Park’s deficit is substantial. Sharp Park has lost between $30,000 and $300,000 a year for the past four fiscal years from the golf fund alone. San Francisco’s other golf courses suffer for it, because they must subsidize Sharp Park’s losses, robbing other courses of needed maintenance. But that isn’t all it costs San Francisco to operate Sharp Park: Sharp Park also draws down the capital fund, the open space fund, and the natural areas program fund."

But what if the claim about all the money being lost is false? Does that make a difference to the validity of Plater and SF Supervisor Mirkarimi’s argument against the golf course?

According to the San Francisco Controller’s 2009 report for the last 4 years showing the net result after subtracting Sharp Park’s expenses and overhead from revenue:

Year Net revenue
2005 $373,021
2006 $334,784
2007 $43,770
2008 -$76,844
Total $674,731

The Controller also states that revenues from earned interest, citywide membership fees and non-specific concessions are not allocated to individual courses but to the overall golf fund. For the years shown above the cumulative revenue to that fund was $1,467,755

If we were to allocate just 11% of that number (based on percentage of total golf revenue) to Sharp Park’s results we would increase its cumulative by $161,453 to a new total of $836,731

San Francisco’s Sharp Park golf course operation does not have a financial viability problem. Rather, it has a financial management problem that a small fee increase would help.

Plater’s other premise, that the golf course is bad for the environment and the endangered species may or may not be true, but we can see that he does not want to find out. Supervisor Mirkarimi’s legislative end-run around the Environmental Impact Review process so he can place the golf course in the care of GGNRA doesn’t portend a fair hearing for the existence of the golf course once out of San Francisco and Pacifica’s control.

Why not? In answer let us note that Brent Plater is a prominent volunteer at GGNRA and retains substantial connections there. No need to wonder why he sees Mirkarimi’s legislation as the golden opportunity it is.

Ken King
Half Moon Bay