Artificial turf project appealed as opponents decry use of kids as lobbyists

|
(14)
The artificial turf fields along the ocean would regularly be illuminated until 10pm

As opponents of a controversial plan to install artificial turf soccer fields in Golden Gate Park appealed the project's approval to the Board of Supervisors – with a hearing set for July 10 – they criticized how a soccer coach inappropriately used children to lobby for the project and raised hopes that a new alternative plan would be supported by supervisors.

Responding to the recently approved plan threatening to pave over seven acres of natural grass playing fields in Golden Gate Park, the main organizing opposition, SF Ocean's Edge, and its attorney, Richard Drury, submitted the 300-page appeal to the board on June 12. The appeal challenges the environmental impact report, citing many of its inadequacies, including the renovation’s aesthetic and environmental inconsistencies with that of the Golden Gate Master Plan and its failure to consider other possibly better alternatives.

The Beach Chalet Athletic Fields Renovation was approved by the Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation on May 24 after a joint hearing that lasted more than six hours. During the hearing, opponents criticized many of the project's features, but an especially outrageous concern came weeks afterward when a letter from an upset parent began circulating. In the letter, an angry father accuses a Vikings League soccer coach of using his unknowing son as a political pawn to support the renovation project.

“I was shocked and angered to learn that our eleven-year-old son was taken by his soccer coach, without our knowledge or consent, to attend the joint committee meeting in support of converting the Beach Chalet soccer fields to artificial turf.  He was one of the dozens of kids in team uniforms,” said the letter.

The parent said his son was picked up from school and was already dressed in uniform ready for practice but instead was taken to City Hall.

“It is really an outrage,” said Katherine Howard, SF Ocean’s Edge organizer, “to use children to further one’s own agenda instead of having an open and honest discussion.”

Renovation supporters argue that replacing the fields with artificial turf and bright lighting will allow children greater access and contribute to a growing need for more athletic fields throughout the City.

The letter accused the Vikings League of appointing itself speaker for San Francisco’s youth when not every parent or child agrees. And in this case, the boy was said to be in tears after the hearing.

“If my children were brought before a hearing for political purposes,” said Drury, “I would be livid.”

Drury and others maintained the park should be kept as a retreat from the pressures of urban life. Contained in the appeal is an alternative hybrid project that opponents are calling a “win-win solution.”

They propose renovating the playing fields at West Sunset Playgrounds with artificial turf and adequate lighting while keeping the Golden Gate Park fields natural with maintenance that includes adequate drainage and gopher control.

“It’s a very simple and very reasonable alternative,” Drury said, adding that the hybrid plan meets all the objectives of the city’s current proposal and wouldn’t increase the costs.

Although Parks and Recreation were uncooperative and refused to consider the hybrid plan, Drury and Howard feel optimistic about the appeal and think they will have better luck dealing with the Board of Supervisors.

Comments

Posted by Guest on Jun. 26, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

The 90s controversy over whether male-to-female transsexuals should be allowed to participate in the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival engendered a fury of letters, opinion pieces, marches, "girlcotts" and more.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 26, 2012 @ 3:28 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 26, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

Queue the long, long rant of canned posts and manufactured outrage here. Starting in 3, 2, 1...

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 26, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

It doesn't sound to me like the coach "used the kids for political purposes." I imagine that the coach and the players are sick and tired of fields being double booked or in poor condition. GGP is a great central location and Rec and park can poor a lot of money into this to make them nice. It fits with the pledge to try and make SF as family friendly as possible. Say hello to the new fields!

Posted by jack smack on Jun. 26, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

have to do with the supposed hijinks of its proponents anyway.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 26, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

It's not trivial. It's a significant amount of space in a very significant location. I play soccer nearly every day on these incredibly ugly plastic turf fields because they are taking over the city, field by field. As does my son and his friends; we have no choice now. If you look at them in locations such as Bayview (Youngblood Coleman), the Mission (Garfield), and along Bayshore (Silver Terrace), they do not age well. They look like 50-year-old carpets, and as they age, the surface becomes more rubber pebbly, flying into mouths, ears, etc., birds beaks, you name it. Meanwhile, children are playing on a surface that has to be "recycled" because it's too hazardous to put in a landfill. And, whereas, before, they could hear birds chirping around them as they play, now, it's just car alarms from nearby parking lots, which have also been enlarged. Makes sense? Yes, if a private foundation is paying for it....!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 26, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

Unbelievable. Kids speaking up for the soccer fields they play on every day. These sports fields should remain locked and closed except by paid permit so the kids know their place in this city. They certainly shouldn't be trying to play sports and exercise.

Give me a break. Good for all those kids for turning the tables on the NIMBYs, most of whom have probably never stepped foot on the Beach Chalet sports fields in the 80 years they've been in existence.

And from what I saw and have heard, it wasn't dozens of soccer kids but a couple of hundred of them that showed up, plus dozens of parents. Good morning sleeping tiger.

Posted by Becky Bayside on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 8:46 am

Kids need a place to play, but kids also need to learn to appreciate and respect nature.

The real issue here is preserving habitat and the beauty of Golden Gate Park for everyone to enjoy, whether young or old, active or not so active. The proposed project introduces a paved, urban, hard-edged, project into a soft-edged grassy area. The artificial turf is the environmental equivalent of paving the area with asphalt. Habitat will be lost. Beach Chalet is one of the few major open, grassy areas in the Park. Golden Gate Park is prime parkland, and it must be protected for everyone. That is the essence of Golden Gate Park - multi-use areas that are enjoyed by everyone during the day, but at night, they belong to nature.

It is unfortunate that Rec and Park has been spending a lot of money on highly-paid management and PR people and not paying attention to maintenance. We encourage the soccer leagues to band together and to demand prime, natural grass playing fields from Rec and Park. But to pave over Beach Chalet is to reward the Department for their poor setting of priorities.

The EIR states that everyone will drive to Beach Chalet - why is a large soccer complex being built in an area of San Francisco that everyone has to drive to it? San Francisco is supposed to be a transit-first City.

The 150,000 watts of night lighting will have an impact on all wildlife and on bird migration, on nesting patterns and on foraging. It's not great for people either! It will ruin the experience of sunset at the beach, strolling on the Promenade as darkness falls in the evening, and sitting by the fire rings. There is a real difference between looking back at a dark skyline with only the outline of the trees and the ghostly windmills, and looking at ten - 60 foot light standards full of sports lighting. In the fog, the light will bounce off of the clouds and be much, much brighter. There is more information and expert testimony about this in our appeal documents, available through our website. (www.sfoceanedge.org)

Our proposal is to swap the field materials for the Beach Chalet and West Sunset playing fields. Renovate the grass fields at Beach Chalet with new sub-surface drainage, improved soil structure, state of the art irrigation, gopher controls, natural grass and no night lighting. Use Bond funding to fix up West Sunset with an appropriate surface. This gives kids have a place to play and protects the beauty and habitat of Golden Gate Park for everyone.

Many organizations and individuals have joined with us to find a compromise. This includes not only environmental organizations but also city-wide neighborhood groups and thousands of individuals.

Join with us to protect Golden Gate Park! Please put July 10, 2012 on your calendar to come to the Appeal hearing at the BOS. And contact us for more information.

Posted by SF Ocean Edge on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 5:51 am
+1

+1

Posted by marcos on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 6:19 am

Marcos is only happy about this because the planned lighting would reduce the potential for "dates" in the area immediately surrounding the fields

Posted by Bob on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 6:30 am

Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby
Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby
Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby
Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby
Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby
Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby Nimby

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 1:14 am

This is the biggest most political circus to happen in SF in the last decade. Real estate developers are planning to pave over the last section of rural nature in an incredibly dense environment. All so "children" from all over the bay area can drive in with their SUVs to use our facilities. Have you seen how bad traffic can get around the park on the weekends? During events? Crime is also something that will obviously increase. Have you seen crime stats from the surrounding suburbs? That will be coming to SF if these open areas are developed as planned by park and rec.

Please stop the continued development of SF's only untouched areas!

Posted by Judith on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 6:28 am

My daughter will be playing on the Chalet Soccer fields next weekend, but I cringe at what is in store for these wonderful, multi-use meadows right by the ocean.
Rather than spending $1M of bond money to put in gopher mesh and french drains, the Park&Rec is fighting tooth and nail spend $7M of bond $ to haul away the topsoil and replace it with industrial waste ground tires and plastic! The Fisher brothers (kicking in $3M) are specific that their City Fields Foundation will not pay a cent to the compleat materials replacement required every 8 years. The bankroll on that is half the installation cost, or about $5M. Since the Park and Rec can't raise $1M for real grass, GGP will have ruined fields with toxic waste blowing through the whole park. Happened in NYC, and now its our turn. This Fishers Follie is bad for my girl and all her teammate. Shame on the Fishers and the Park & Rec.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 11:32 am