Sharp Park: A New “Bridge to Nowhere”

pork_barrel…or so Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn claim in the release of Stimulus Checkup, their analysis of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This is a fabulously entertaining read–no, really–written with far more relish than one would expect from a government document and replete with merciless attacks on left-wing puppet brigades, water-safety mascots, and studies documenting the sex lives of college girls (the research conducted in the “Girls Gone Wild” series apparently being found lacking in the process of peer review).

Sharp Park Golf Course comes in at #5 on the McCain-Coburn hit list. While I must agree that federal funding should not be applied to this project if indeed the course is no longer going to exist, Stimulus Checkup puts its finger on the scales with a series of misleading half-truths and outright falsehoods. Right at the top, it identifies Sharp Park as being located in San Francisco. It’s actually in Pacifica–the course is owned by the City. This is a valuable distinction. Given that Pacifica has made offers to purchase their local course and been rebuffed, it’s hard to take the City’s complaints that the course is a money-loser quite as seriously.

As for the California red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake, it’s worth pointing out that rather than Sharp Park “sitting squarely in the middle of their habitat”, the golf course created the habitat. Neither frog nor snake (the latter preys on the former, incidentally) would have enjoyed Laguna Salada very much (saltwater swamp, for those who remember their 10th grade Spanish) before the creation of the seawall and Sharp Park.

As Julia Scott, who has covered this story extensively for the Bay Area News Group, reports, people within the San Francisco city government who are trying to do the right thing based on what actually currently exists in Pacifica resent the project becoming the target of McCain and Coburn’s ire: “We think the only thing that is wasteful is watering golf courses with pristine Hetch Hetchy water, and that’s what this project seeks to change,” said Tony Winnicker, spokesman for the SFPUC.

On a final, comic note, you just have to love this line, too: “While the golf course was designed by Alister Mackenzie [sic], best known for designing Augusta National, Sharp Park has not followed in Augusta’s successful footsteps.” Hm. One is a $24 muni that has been enjoyed by millions of everyday people over the decades, the other is the most powerful and exclusive CEO club in the world. Apples and oranges, maybe? Memo to Coburn and McCain: It provokes more than a little cognitive dissonance, as you become strange bedfellows with the San Francisco environmentalists who would eliminate Sharp Park, to hold up Augusta National, which must have one of the highest maintenance budgets in the world and the environmental inputs to match, as your model for a successful golf course.

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One comment for “Sharp Park: A New “Bridge to Nowhere””

  1. Agree completely with this post, but wanted to add my two cents, as I think I may be responsible for the Sharp Park irrigation project being on Coburn’s list.

    Last July, I wrote about this specific issue, and e-mailed every relevant public official I could think of to put a spotlight on it. Among them was Senator Coburn’s office, who had just published his first wasteful stimulus project list. The original post here, my more recent Mea Culpa here.

    This is real simple and binary. If the SF Supervisors decide to keep the course, there is no waste. Whatever you think of the Obama’s stimulus package in general (and I don’t think much of it), this particular project is a perfect example of what every stimulus project should be. It creates jobs. It is a shovel ready project to make a sorely needed infrastructure improvements. It saves Hetch Hetchi drinking water. It is a win – win – win project for the community, the economy, and the environment.

    But… If the Supes vote to kill the course, it is indeed a complete waste and a “pipeline to nowhere” as Coburn reports.

    The Supes will decide whether it belongs on this list.

    Posted by mw | December 11, 2009, 08:51

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