City weighs artificial turf fields in Golden Gate Park

The brightly illuminated artificial turf fields would be adjacent to Ocean Beach.

[[UPDATE 5/25: The project was approved]] The San Francisco Planning and Recreation & Park commissions will hold a special joint hearing tomorrow (Thurs/24) afternoon to consider approving the Beach Chalet Athletic Fields Renovation, a controversial city proposal to replace the natural grass fields on the west end of Golden Gate Park with artificial turf.

The $48 million project – years in development by Recreation & Park officials and championed by department head Phil Ginsburg, who has aggressively tried to monetize the city's parks – has inflamed the passions of both supporters and opponents, who are expected to jam into the 3 pm hearing in City Hall's Room 400 to deliver hours' of testimony. [Correction: Patrick Hannan with City Fields Foundation says this is a $14 million project, part of its overall $48 million artificial turf program for the city.]

Supporters say there aren't enough fields in the city for young soccer players and the existing fields there are in bad shape and without adequate lighting. In addition to the artificial turf, which the City Fields Foundation (created and funded by the Fisher family, founders of The Gap) has been helping to install in parks throughout the city, the project would include 150,000-watt lighting 60 feet in the air to illuminate the fields until 10 pm, year-round.

Opponents of the project, which include primarily environmentalists and park neighbors, cite a litany of problems with the project, saying it violates city plans that call for the park to remain a natural area open to all park users. They say it will disturb wildlife, increase traffic (much of it from out-of-towners who rent the fields), and create potentially toxic runoff in a sensitive habitat.

“Golden Gate Park is a unique, magnificent, and world-famous San Francisco treasure. It was conceived to serve as an open space preserve in the midst of San Francisco – a cultivated pastoral and sylvan landscape. It was designed to afford opportunities for all to experience beauty and tranquility. Plastic fields that are brightly lighted until 10 pm every night of the year are entirely out of place in this setting. The western end of Golden Gate Park should remain a part of the cohesive naturalistic environment envisioned by the Park's creators,” Katherine Howard of SF Ocean Edge, which organized in opposition to the project, wrote in a May 22 letter to the two commissions.

While it will be a joint hearing, the Planning Commission is charged with approving the project's environmental impact report and the RPC will consider approval of the project itself. But judging from the long list of angry comments to our last story on the subject by people on both sides of the debate, this divisive project will likely be the subject of appeals and lawsuits for months or years to come.


Read this editorial, from the publisher of the Richmond Review & Sunset Beacon newspapers, AGAINST this scheme to put 7 acres of DEAD PLASTIC turf (that lasts only 10 years) & over 600,000 of toxic tire particles in OUR wonderful Golden Gate Park. He makes some excellent points that no one else has made:

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

The 1% want this and the 1% are going to get this.

The only option we have is to crater the parks bond in November so that Phil Ginsburg does not have one more red cent of our tax dollars to give away to the 1%.

It is only by cutting off their oxygen that we can force them to either end the corruption or give them no more of our money to transfer to their political backers via contracts.

Left unsaid in all of this is the traditional and historic use of the far west end of the park for gay male cruising and what impact this investment will have on that. When the choice is between gay men and billionaires' fake concern for children, kids and the rich win.

This city really remains a provincial backwater when it comes to this stuff.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2012 @ 7:53 am

Really, we have to go there? Sick of this- everytime something semi -controvesial comes up- someone jumps in a blames it on the 1%- well guess what- I am no where close to the "1%" and I am in favor of that.

As for the gay cruising- yeah, because there just aren't enough places in SF where people can go meet each other for sex. What will they ever do?

Posted by D.native on May. 24, 2012 @ 8:14 am

This is not just one instance of Ginsburg working the will of the 1% on our parks, he's got an ongoing history of privatizing and denaturing our open spaces.

If the issue were Chinese people and their live animals, no lengths would be spared to justify cultural difference, but since it is gay men, the homophobes erupt because gay men are second class citizens, our cultural diversity is not part of the mix when billionaires have other designs on our space.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2012 @ 9:58 am
Posted by DanO on May. 24, 2012 @ 10:40 am

It belongs to the public. No one has a monopoly on the park. 2nd,having sex in a public space is against the law. No valid reason to try to preserve or endorse that.

You can call it homophobia all you want, but honestly, there are plenty of people who are all in favor and supportive of gay rights, such as myself, but are against public sex in a park.

Posted by D.native on May. 24, 2012 @ 11:05 am

Who are you, Phil Ginsberg??? Give it up Ginsberg or consultant for City Fields Foundation.

If anybody believes this person is against the 7 acres of dead plastic turf and almost a million pounds of toxic tire particles in GG Park, I've got the GG Bridge for sale this month for CHEAP!

Need a lot of work on your act because most ppl can see what your true agenda is. Are they paying you well to put this crap out there??? They must since only lots of $ makes ppl give up their principles like you have.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

Save the fellatio!

There really is no end to what an entitled self righteous SF NIMBY will do or say to attempt to gain control of their tiny little world.

Posted by Greg2 on May. 24, 2012 @ 8:13 am

There are plenty of suburbs already available where there are many soccer fields and few homosexuals.

Why not move there instead of trying to recreate that bland existence here in San Francisco?

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2012 @ 8:30 am

It gets people moving- i.e. exercise, encourages competition, can be used by all ages- I see tons of adult leagues here in the City. Do you just want a City that has things you like to do and nothing for other people?

Posted by D.native on May. 24, 2012 @ 9:39 am

There are already soccer fields in that location, nobody is opposing soccer.

We're concerned about the new lighting, the disruption to gay male recreation and the potentially toxic surface.

Posted by marcos on May. 24, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

From the professional spokesperson for gay male recreation.
Guess your live in bf doesn't mind

Posted by Greg on May. 24, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

being against the lighting and the artificial turf- but sorry- I think it is idiotic to try and defend anonymous public sex in a public park. Gay or straight. Wrong is wrong.

Posted by D.native on May. 25, 2012 @ 7:13 am


Well, er, 40 with this one, I guess.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2012 @ 9:28 am

Are you able to quantify the loss of life, animal and human from the toxic waste chemicals leeching from these "fields" ?

Are you able to quantify the increase in costs born by local residents and city government when cancer rates go up due to these "fields"?

Are you able to quantify the increase in local crime rates that will occur with the more frequent use of these fields?

Are you able to quantify the wear and tear on the bay bridge and support infrastructure from added people commuting in to use these new fields?

Posted by Judith on May. 24, 2012 @ 11:15 am

I doubt it. Seems to me you are just worried about "bad" people coming into the neighorhood to use the fields.

Posted by D.native on May. 24, 2012 @ 11:37 am

The burden to show that this proposal is not harmful is not on me.
If you just think about what they are trying to do, you will come up with a million reasons why it is not the right thing for the City.

Posted by Judith on May. 24, 2012 @ 11:52 am

She got hers and she wants to protect it - and that means making sure no damn kids play soccer on "her" lawn and cause any ruckus which disturbs her in any way.

Posted by Troll II on May. 24, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

Lots of time on their hands and a chip on their shoulder.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2012 @ 5:04 am

not conducive to being persuasive.

This type of turf is used all over the world and was even used for the 2008 European Champions League Soccer Final.

It's better, cheaper and longer-lasting, and I've seen no evidence there is any risk.

It's a non-issue. Move onto something worthwhile.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

The 7 acres of plastic is bad but what's a lot worse is the almost million pounds of toxic tire particles that will spread all throughout the ecosystem there. And it indeed is toxic as is anything made from petroleum and heated at high temps and high pressures when formed.

Notice that you mention for evidence of its safety not a park but a place that is presumably not supporting any ecosystem like GG Park does. Also as evidence of safety you don't mention something far back in time so that it's been tested over time but you just go back to 2008 - basically yesterday.

Maybe it will take 10 or 15 years before disturbing effects start becoming known. The dangers of cigarettes weren't known immediately - in fact I believe at one time the AMA said they made one healthy - so it's not known if these toxic tire particles will have effect the wildlife there (besides the obvious fact of removing a place that was part of their ecosystem - not many worms for the birds to eat in dead plastic and toxic tire particles).

What this basically is is a reckless large scale chemical experiment on the ecosystem of GG Park with soccer being the excuse to carry it out. And it's being done "in one of the greenest cities in the world" - if this goes through, that phrase can be the source of a good laugh.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

but when you write stuff like "wear and tear" on the Bay Bridge you end up sounding ridiculous and your other arguments become suspect.

Posted by DanO on May. 24, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

I dont agree. People are not considering the complete impacts of this proposal.

Posted by Judith on May. 24, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

saying that SF needs to carefully consider the impact of ANY new public structure or park -and as part of the EIR, should consider the potential "wear and tear" on the Bay Bridge- Shouldn't we also throw in wear and tear on the GG Bridge- what about wear and tear on ferries? Overuse of Muni? Honestly where does it end. Here is something you didn't consider- working conditions in Nike factories being made worse by the explosion of soccer games in GG Park. More games, more wear and tear on cleats, so people will need to replace their cleats more often- ENVIROMENTAL DISASTER- all because of a few soccer fields. Truly the nail that turn the tide of battle.

Posted by D.native on May. 24, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

The nike comment is a bit lost on me, but yes. This is the purpose of CEQA, to evaluate the impacts of development on the environment.

Tell the supervisors to reject this inadequate EIR:
Here's their contact info: 554-7410 554-7752 554-7450 554-7460 554-7630 554-7970 554-6516 554-6968 554-5144 554-7670 554-6975

Posted by Judith on May. 24, 2012 @ 1:01 pm
Posted by D.native on May. 24, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

This thread is fantastic. A soccer field discussion has morphed into homophobia, public sex in parks, and whatever the hell Judith is talking about.

Posted by The Commish on May. 24, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

meaningless that a bunch of self-absorbed San Franciscans can't get all worked up about it, and elevate it into whatever wierd neuroses that they have.

Judith is probably a man with penis envy and a lot of spare time on "her" hands.

You can't make this stuff up.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

It's a park, it's intended for trees, birds, people. It's not a stadium. What they are talking about is putting another stadium in the park. Artificial turf is not appropriate; birds need natural grass for feeding of bugs and insects . Not very far from that area is a rather large pond--North Lake--where birds will feed on flying insects. Needs for birds alone is the biggest argument against an artificial turf..

Equally important, kids are learning that nature or the natural environment takes second place to human activities; that's a terrible message to give to to kids. "Rape of the environment is OK for the benefit of humans" becomes the lesson for kids to learn.

Let that same money be spent on revamping the field into soccer quality. There are already at least two stadiums in the park; is a third on with artificial turf really needed?

Posted by StevenTorrey on May. 25, 2012 @ 7:55 am

Before it was covered in grass, it was a bunch of sand dunes. I don't see you advocating to get rid of the grass and put the dunes back.

Posted by The Commish on May. 25, 2012 @ 8:39 am

You say he should be advocating for sand dunes. And why should he? The GG Park Master Plan doesn't advocate for turning the whole park into sand dunes and for good reason. It also says lights are for safety only, not to turn night into day like those 60 foot lights will do.

So what's with your hang up on sand dunes? Surely you have enough brain cells to know the difference between LIVING grass and soil that supports a park ecosystem and DEAD plastic turf mixed in with almost a million lbs of tiny toxic tire particles that do not support the park ecosystem. If you can't tell the diff then I guess you don't have those reqd number of neurons.

Posted by Guest on May. 26, 2012 @ 9:44 pm