14 Sep 2014
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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.

Judge to Hear Arguments for Early End to Sharp Park Lawsuit


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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