The long-running story of Sharp Park Golf Course and its battles with environmental groups bent of closing the historic Alister MacKenzie-designed layout has taken another strange twist.
Just two months after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by environmental groups that called for the closing of Sharp Park, those same groups have now filed a motion with that same federal judge asking the city of San Francisco to pay $1.3 million in legal fees they incurred in their failed legal efforts against the golf course.
"It's a head-scratcher," said Bo Links, a San Francisco attorney who is also the co-founder of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, a group that spearheaded efforts to save the 80-year-old public facility located in Pacifica, Calif., but managed by the city of San Francisco. "The plantiffs swung and missed, and seem to think they won the Open."
Groups including the Wild Equity Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and others had filed suit under the Endangered Species Act, calling for the closing of the course to protect the endangered California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes that have found a home in the water features and wetlands that dot the course. When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that golf operations would not impact the health and well-being of those species, the judge threw out the case.
That case is currently under appeal (the Sierra Club chose not to take part in the appeal), but in the meantime, those groups are now seeking payment for legal fees they incurred in filing the case in the first place. A ruling on this is scheduled for early May.
“Plaintiffs bring suit to close the golf course that created the freshwater conditions that enabled the frog and snake to come in the first place, Links said in a news release from the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance. "Then they lose every motion they file, and their case is thrown out. And now they want the Court to order the City to pay their attorney’s fees? How can this possibly be an “appropriate” case for a fee award?"