Whose park? - Page 3

Proposal to build a large artificial turf soccer complex in Golden Gate Park sparks controversy

A rendering of the proposed soccer complex

Other community meetings have been flooded with youth soccer players from San Francisco and beyond advocating the installation of the turf fields. But local environmentalists say Golden Gate Park was meant to be a refuge for all city residents and visitors.

"Golden Gate Park was created as a place for people to get away from the city," Howard said. "The amount of contiguous park land is very important."


The families of San Francisco kids support these soccer fields not just an organization as your article suggests. We do not have enough fields for our kids to get to play. We have to travel all the way across town to get to better fields.

Our family loves Golden Gate park does many activities there including playing soccer. It is one of the uses. Beach Chalet has been a soccer fields for many many years- we want to make quality ones that can be used all of the time - not closed for renovation 3 plus months a year or when it rains or fields that can not be maintained due to high demand.

Your article is not providing a balanced point of view and just represents the views of wealthy neighbors who do not want the fields used. There were no objections to replacement of soccer fields in less affluent neighborhoods or in McLaren Park just in this wealthy area.

Posted by A San Francisco Parent on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

You are talking about THE LARGEST URBAN PARK IN AMERICA. A park that is larger than Central Park in NYC. You really want to be the people who future generations will point to and say "those (expletive deleted) fools, they RUINED the entire western side of the Park...covered it in slipping rubber that our kids slipped on and that all kinds of bacteria grew in and the birds and insects couldn't use...that ruined the neighborhood and drve down property values because of those huge, ugly lights..."

How could you dare even THINK of commercializing this lovely wild area like this? Not to even mention that this is totally against the General Plan for GG park -- AND violates the Night Sky ordinance. (Maybe you'd love to hve 60-foot stadium lights shining in your windows, yes?)

Posted by Parksider on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

you are so completely ridiculous. I hope that for the rest of your life you will have 60 foot stadium lights shining in your windows - but they wont be from this project. Is your home IN the park? Do you have any concept of how light shines ?
Did you even read the article? It found MORE bacteria in natural grass!


Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

The synthetic turf will not increase the number of fields on which kids can play soccer, they have had grass at the Beach Chalet all of my life and probably longer. And people have played soccer there all that time. The only reason Recreation Park Department (RPD) wants to lay down synthetic turf and put up all those lights is to be able to rent the fields to adult soccer teams who would bring in a bit of money to a cash starved city department. The idea that increasing the size of the fields, putting in lights and replacing real grass is not backed up by any real evidence that RPD will actually make any money. It's just that they hope to and they are willing to pit citizens against citizens who must compete for rapidly diminishing space for recreation in our small town. And RPD is willing to risk a lot of money to see if they can get a little money. I seriously doubt that all families are in favor of this absurd idea. A San Francisco Parent is speaking just for their own family, not all families.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

Many people aren't opposed to the soccer field concept, but replacing the current natural turf with plastic grass means all of the birds and other wildlife that eat the seeds and bugs and other varmints that live in the current natural soil will lose a huge feeding area.

I always thought one of the concepts of San Francisco was to try to accomodate everyone and everything as best as possible, even the native wildlife. Hundreds if not thousands of birds winter and/or nest in the western end of Golden Gate Park during the year, feeding and gathering nest material in and around the proposed soccer field site.

This is the main reason why some people oppose the plastic grass installation. It will ultimately kill native birds and other wildlife by depriving them of habitat. Over the centuries the sprawl expansion by humans has already destroyed millions of wildlife species; it would be nice if we could leave a few percent of natural turf for the orignal native inhabitants, even non-native but natural grasslands that are shared by soccer lovers and other compatible recreation users, along with the wildlife.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

Another outstanding point. Birds certainly cannot fly and therefore would be unable to choose a neighboring ecosystem to feed and or nest. This complex of four soccer fields will surely cause all of the birds in all 1k+ acres of the park to starve.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

What "native birds" nest on verdant green lawns fed by massive amounts of herbicides and fertilizer?

Newsflash - Golden Gate Park today is entirely an artificial manufactured landscape. If it were native it would consist of rolling sand dunes sparsely interspersed with dune grass. No trees, no bright green patches of grass and no starlings.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

Last time I walked around the west end of the park and nearby shore I counted over 35 species, with only a few starlings among them. I saw and heard more Red-shouldered hawks in the park than starlings, so I suggest you might want to take a native bird refresher course to help with your ID skills. Besides, starlings are a good feedstock for the local Cooper's and Sharp-shinned hawks, so they're welcomed here as well (heresy, I know), even though starlings are unwelcomed immigrants in San Francisco like most of the rest of us who can't afford $2,500 for a 350 sq. ft. studio apartment.

Dozens of species have been wintering and/or nesting in the west end of San Francisco for thousands of years before humans arrived. And lo and behold, humans are fantastic gardeners who can create environments that attract more and different species, helping augment their numbers during nesting and the wintering seasons. (Hopefully you and your neighbors have hummingbird and seed feeders out right now helping to sustain the local wintering populations.) But land can't be replaced. When real estate is covered in plastic, no species - no matter how adaptable - can survive there.

Of course it would be better if Park and Rec employees didn't dump toxic fertilizers and toxic herbicides in our parks, but they're getting better. Of course it would be better if we had even more native habitat rather than vast tracts of mono-grass. But it's a question of balance. Some bird species can still exist on the exisiting grasslands and people can use the play fields. Maybe it's not ideal for either group, but they can both adapt and learn to try to get along with each other. What a concept.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

That was the point of the original comment. The grassy fields in Golden Gate Park do nothing to sustain bird life. The fields are pretty and they're nice to lay in on sunny days but they're not in any way integral to bird life in SF.

FYI - Hummingbirds don't "winter" in SF - they are native to this part of the CA coast year round.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

The robins I see pulling worms out of the ground and the white-crowned sparrows I see feeding on seeds and detritus in the grass sure seem like they're feeding just fine on the current grass fields. Do you ever walk around there in the early morning to see how much bird feeding activity goes on? The big question for me is, why does the city want to take this food source away from them when there is so little land left and when a grass field can accomodate both the soccer players AND the birds that feed in the grass?

PS - I believe many of the Anna's hummingbirds you see wintering in SF actually nest far north of here in Canada and Alaska, while the Anna's and Allen's hummingbirds that will nest here in spring and summer are currently wintering in more southern locales. I know this is largely true for White-crowned sparrows: many/most/all of our wintering birds will move north to nest, but will be replaced by birds from the same species that are currently wintering far south of us. Regardless, there are always fewer flowers and good food sources around in winter. Hummingbird feeders and seed feeders help sustain our local wintering population, as well as are a nice tribute to St. Francis. Anyone remember him these days, or have the local bankers, landlords, politicians and local software start-up millionaires wiped out all traces of him and his teachings too?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

While everyone likes the idea of adaptable meadows on paper, the truth is the Park already has a number of restrictive, single-use destinations benefiting very few -- the horse stable, casting pond, lawn bowling courts, golf course, and buffalo paddock all spring to mind. Soccer is only growing in popularity, and kids and adults alike don't have enough places to play.

There's no good reason to freeze the park -- as designed for the leisure activities of the 19th Century elite -- in amber for the 21st century and beyond. Let them play.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

It's not grass, my friend. It's crumb rubber, made from old tires. Would you let your kids wallow in rubber from old tires? Try to think this through. Try to ask yourself why/how this is being proposed -- when it totally flies in the face of all of our cities great and successful efforts to be one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world -- and suddenly, this nightmare. There's a reason why it got this far...and it's NOT because fake grass is the best thing for your kids -- or the GG Park. ("Follow the money"...as Deep Throat said to Woodward and Bernstein..."just -- FOLLOW the money..!")

Posted by Parksider on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

is a great example of the benefits of recycling and reducing the waste stream. The grass you seem to be orgasming over is a non-native species requiring huge amounts of water and herbicides to maintain. From a stable-state perspective the artificial turf is preferable to a giant expanse of green lawn.

As someone else pointed out the park has lots of areas which are single-use. I fail to understand why adding an additional one for soccer is a bad idea.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

The fake turf is indeed toxic and can make people, especially children, who play on it sick.

And your claim about herbicides is false, San Francisco has laws strictly limiting herbicide and other pesticide use on public property, including the parks.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

"Laws strictly limiting herbicide and other pesticides" are not laws banning them - they allow discretion on their use and the department still uses them.

The large, green lawns in Golden Gate Park are composed of non-native species requiring huge amounts of water and chemicals to maintain - in addition to increased CO2 emissions from the petrochemicals used to mow, reseed and weed the turf. Synthetic tuft is composed of recycled rubber and reduces the amount of rubber ending up in landfills. On par over equal amounts of time it is preferable that synthetic turf be installed here than grass, which as I have stated requires enormous upkeep resulting in increased CO2 emissions, wasted water and large amounts of chemicals to maintain.

Eric is actually arguing against the more environmentally responsible course here.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 3:50 pm
Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

Not one negating anything I wrote - something I've noticed you resort to when you HAVE no substantive reply.

Would it make it acceptable if the artificial turf were composed of the remnants of bicycle tires Eric?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

Living grass is clearly better than plastic.

And your claim about water use etc, is also overblown.

Recently Rec and Park and other agencies have turned to more eco-friendly grass varieties for golf fairways and other applications, and there is no reason we can't do the same with soccer fields.

Your bogus 'environmental' claims don't remotely resemble real environmentalism; and are in fact anathema to environmental progress.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

environmentally-sustainable actions.

You are a paid mole for anti-environmental organizations. Since the one you work for takes money from PGE I think it's clear where your REAL loyalties lie.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

The grassroots organization that I coordinate does not take -any- donations from -any- corporations or even foundations, and also takes no grants whatsoever (including grants from government). It instead runs solely on individual donations averaging around $30 per donor. We never have, nor will we ever, take one penny from PG&E. In fact we regularly and vehemently attack PG&E.

And the idea that astroturf is 'environmental', is ludicrous.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

I've never understood why people would want to use their real name on post after post. Using a real name comes across - to me anyway - as someone with either an extremely high or extremely low regard for themselves, maybe both. And seeing post after post is just sad since it implies someone doesn't have any family committments or a fulfilling career or anything better to do than spend lots of time at the local (metaphoric) bar and shoot the jive. I can relate to be sure, but anonymous posts separate the ego from the post, and the argument or witicism or insight can stand or fall on its own merit.

And why some of the most persistent self-identified "progressive" posters think it makes sense to argue with the 25% of the people who will *never* change their minds about a particular subject - on either extreme side of an issue - has always confusing as well. The only people that usually matter are the 50-60% of the people in the middle of the bell curve (myself included) who have conflicting ideas about various complex subjects.

It's been refreshing to see so many "anonymous" posts since the Occupy movement started. People make their points and get out, leaving their name and ego at the door. It seems to minimize most of the personal attacks that always degrade into nothingness, even when a solid, nuanced discussion was started before the personal insults began.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

Hiding behind "anonymous" is cowardly. Using your real name takes guts not an ego.

Posted by Malana on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 11:19 am

where you live and what your phone number and email address is.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

It says loudly and clearly that I am going on record with what I have to say, without fear, even though that means naysayers will launch personal attacks. It says to those naysayers and everyone else 'I am not afraid of strong scrutiny of my views.' and that lends a lot of credibility.

Another reason I use my real name is that many progressives know me and often trust my opinions. Its a way to flag for those people that someone who has spent their life in progressive organizing is putting forth the comment and therefore it has the backing of solid experience and philosophy.

Also, because of the way I organize, I don't have to fear repercussions from funding sources or politicians, so using my real name in public posts says to decision makers. 'Here's what I think, and I am not afraid to both stand up for what I think -and- hold you, the decision maker -accountable- if you are oppositional to these goals,

Finally, as to debating with the 25% percent, sometimes it is simply unavoidable, when they advance clever false arguments that the middle 50-60% might believe if someone doesn't take on those arguments and show why the reactionary position is false.

And debating with strong opposition also gives one powerful practice and experience debating progressive positions with -really- clever and strong adversaries (at the same time getting them to reveal their best arguments) so that when you go to City Hall, Sacramento, D.C., and the media, your message has been sharpened, has survived and been honed under a massive reactionary assault, and is now -spot- on.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

Massive reactionary assault!

I'm dying over here.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

What a better word this would be.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

What a better world this would be.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

If you really want people to be able to play why would you support locking up the fields? Every other field is now locked and under a pay to play by the hour situation... That's stealing public parks that are for EVERYONE, to give to those who can afford the rental and can negotiate the scheduling system.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 10:56 am

This is OUTRAGEOUS. There is a "night sky" ordinance in San Francisco -- Phil Ginsburg has decided that it doesn't apply to him (this would hardly be the first time). This is a quiet, residential neighborhood -- and a STADIUM with 60-foot (!!!!) lights is being built in the midst of what the general plan for GG Park denotes as an area that is to remain "wild" in overall look and feel. Studies show that more people who live OUTSIDE San Francisco will use this field than S.F. residents, too. Not to mention the fact that a tract this size is home to numerous insects, worms, etc. that birds and other animals depend on...not to mention the sheer creepiness of playing on plastic grass.

I smell a rat here -- this field is being "offered" to us by the same people who wanted to build a major art museum and hotel right in the middle of the Presidio -- a NATIONAL PARK. Hmmm...wouldn't it be a great coup for the people who make and sell this fake grass if they could say that Golden Gate Park -- the largest urban park in the U.S. is using their creepy plastic turf? We're known throughout the country as being huge defenders of the environment. Wouldn't it be a great marketing and sales asset to be able to say that Golden Gate park was using it (.e.g. "it must be safe!") I wonder how much it has cost to grease the wheels to get this nightmare proposed -- and who has paid for the grease?

Posted by Parksider on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

Studies show that more people who live OUTSIDE San Francisco will use this field than S.F.

What studies show this extremely xenophobic attitude? Your attitude is disgusting.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

"it is well known that" or "most reasonable people understand that".

I always know I've won a debate when someone pulls out one of those weasel phrases.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

Newspapers like yours should try harder to meet bare minimum journalistic standards. When you identify a concern and interview someone who directly addresses that concern, it is not good journalism to then ignore that side of the issue as you do repeatedly. I was interviewed so know that the reporter was either not competent or not interested in fairly presenting both sides of the issue.

Specific omitted facts include the following:

1. Beach Chalet has been used since the 1920's for sports play, not as a meadow, but as developed sports fields. Issues with the GGP Master Plan are undercut when one realizes that this part of GGP has been used for recreational play for over 90 years!

2. Keeping any field in the city grass (as our opponents disingenuously suggest) inevitably limits or degrades its condition:
--Kezar and Boxer are used at 20% the rate of artificial fields. They are kept in great quality, but fail on the usage dimension.
--Beach, Polo and other grass fields are used at 60% the rate as artificial surface fields and that usage level causes them to degrade in quality to poor and unsafe for play levels.
--Artificial surface is the only solution that both allows for 100% capacity usage (critical to help solve for our city's huge field shortage) and for safe, high quality fields.

3. Environmental issues have simply not surfaced in any legitimate study done to date. This is why Cal and Stanford have multiple artificial surface fields on campus with the endorsement of the departments at those schools that focus on the environmental issues. Beach opponents for 3 years have pointed to the 'next new study' that they want to wait to come out. That new study then does come out and finds no issues with artificial surface fields. The opponents then point to the 'next' study and again want everyone to wait.

4. The cost numbers in the article are so far off as to be laughable. Simply understanding what Crocker cost when it was done a few years ago (to rave reviews and no environmental issues!) would help anyone understand that $48 million is off by about a multiple of about 4. And the money is coming almost entirely from private sources. Please do the minimum to get your facts straight!

5. Those of us engaged in and passionate for the development of youth sports here in this often family-unfriendly city wonder why such a small number of misanthropic individuals can become such an obstruction to a truly wonderful project. When they start their arguments with 'I am just as much for kids sports in this city as anyone' it is simply sickening to those of us who have worked so hard to make progress in this area. If you are for kids and families, then you are for the Beach project. Plain and simple. If you are not, fine, but at least be up front that you could care less about kids.

Posted by High School Athletic Director on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

So you are saying that because natural grass presents challenges with erosion, would should cover up that land with toxic plastic made from recycled tires..?

That argument, is what is laughable.

It's a lot like the Vietnam sargent who said 'We had to destroy the village to save it.'

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

There's nothing "natural" about something which requires huge amounts of fertilizer, herbicides, CO2 and manpower to maintain. I suppose "corn sugar" is natural too.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 4:37 pm


Posted by Andrew Solow, MYSL Co-Founder and Past President on Dec. 03, 2011 @ 3:00 am

Interesting. Since I don't live anywhere near Golden Gate Park, how does your brainless knee-jerk response apply, idiot.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 03, 2011 @ 9:48 am

New varieties of grass being used for park sports applications are more ecofriendly and require vastly lower inputs.

And you conveniently forget that it takes a huge amount of energy (along with inevitable CO2 and pollutant releases) to process, and down-cycle, tires into artificial turf; so your CO2 claims are also misleading nonsense.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

ERikkk is a diehard sf progressive. This means he is vehently opposed to any change in SF no matter how large or small. Check out his list of accomplishments in another thread. The majority of them are about stopping things/ making them illegal.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

Guest, all you can come up with is personal attacks. That means YOU GOT NOTHING!!! You can't respond to Eric's points with real competing points so it's how the right always argues: attack your opponent with personal attacks.

The facts are this scheme is about dumping over 300 tons of oil-based (and thus toxic) very small tire particles (max dimenion is only 3 mm) in OUR (not the Fisher family's or Phil Ginsburg's) Golden Gate Park. Let's preserve GG Park for future generations as the Golden Gate Park Master Plan laid out.

There was a recent article in the Chron about how a factory in the East Bay that makes plastic bags is poisoning the birds around the plant because there's little pellets of plastic on the grounds of the plant that the birds are eating. There's a really good possibility that the same thing will happen when birds eat the little tire particles thinking it's food because the tire particles and plastic pellets come from the same thing - OIL.

If you, Guest, want to dump your house with tons of tiny tire particles, be my guest but I don't want you, or Phil Ginsburg, or the late Donald Fisher or his billionaire sons to ruin Golden Gate Park which belongs to ALL San Franciscans.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

ERikkk is a diehard sf progressive. This means he is vehently opposed to any change in SF no matter how large or small. Check out his list of accomplishments in another thread. The majority of them are about stopping things/ making them illegal.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

Who would have thought?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

A plastic surface wipes out nearly all life beneath it. Trillions of living beings.

Grass does not, and supports a teaming carbon sequestering ecosystem.

Simple equation.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

Erik, is it true you will be lobbying the board of supervisors to acknowledge the trillions of living beings in the soil as having separate social lives and individual rights?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

And we have already gone of your bogus claims about herbicides, etc.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

NIMBY Eric Brooks is lying, once again.

1. Artificial turf recycles rubber and removes it from the waste stream. It allows the fields to be used year-round, avoiding the massive waste of CO2 involved in reseeding, feeding and weeding the fields if they are left uncovered.

Eric Brooks is a liar and the worst example of anti-progressive NIMBYism in San Francisco. Eric Brooks doesn't care that children from poor neighborhoods don't have soccer fields to play on and are forced to use blacktop much of the time. What Eric Brooks cares about is propagating his bourgeois, white version of environmentalism - no matter the repercussions.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

A lot more CO2 than caring for lawns which also ABSORB CO2 because they are ALIVE.

Get it dumbfuck?

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

Because you're lying, as usual, and then attempting to intimidate - which is pathetic considering that so far you haven't been able to carry out a single one of your threats, including "unmasking" me to a sad and cruel world.

Artificial turf, which lasts far longer than regular turf, is over the course of 10 years far less environmentally harmful and releases less CO2 that maintaining non-native lawn space. Those are facts bully boy. Read 'em and weep.

Posted by Aragorn on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

Actually Faux News 'Aragorn' you are yet again easily proven to be full of it.

According to a careful study of greenhouse gas emissions done for Upper Canada College (Toronto), artificial turf is a high emitter of greenhouse gasses while a grass field is actually a net reducer of GHGs. The study found that artificial turf releases 55.6 tons of greenhouse gasses, while grass turf -absorbs- 16.9 tons of greenhouse gasses -from- the atmosphere.

You can see these numbers in the charts on page 8 of the report at:


Now, where are your facts exactly Fauxragorn?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

which doesn't account for chemical and fertilizer runoff nor numerous points in the life cycle of the specified lawn at GG Park.

Posted by Autonomous on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

It did account for other factors. That's where the margin of error comes in. (Look at the charts more carefully to find that number.)

Even if grass is given its full higher GHGs via margin of error it only produces a net 2 tons in emissions at most, whereas even if astroturf is given its best possible lower GHGs it produces over 20 tons.

You, are therefore, wrong.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Dec. 01, 2011 @ 5:18 pm