Congratulations to SF for starting to realize that there are negative impacts on wildlife that must be mitigated. There is another project that SF needs to modify, to protect birds.
The Beach Chalet soccer complex means the loss of over 7 acres of green grass to 7 acres of artificial turf, made up of gravel, plastic carpet, and potentially toxic tire waste infill; 150,000 watts of sports lighting, lighted until 10:00 pm every night of the year and located just a few hundred feet from Ocean Beach; loss of plantings to over 1 acre of new paving; loss of over 55 trees; loss of more parkland to seating for over 1,000 visitors; expansion of the parking lot by 33% - in a City that brags about being "transit first." Loss of carbon sequestration equal to planting over 7,000 trees and having them grow for 10 years. Loss of the night sky to families at Ocean Beach, who visit to view the sunset, to gaze at the stars, or to sit by the fire rings. These plastic fields will have to be replaced in 8 years, with no money in the budget to pay for replacements.
The Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Golden Gate Audubon Society, as well as over 10,000 people who signed petitions, postcards, and wrote personal letters, are opposed to this project. Also opposed are Viking Soccer Parents for Green Grass in Golden Gate Park and Educators for Photosynthesis, an organization of teachers.
And don't forget the 44-member, city-wide neighborhood organization, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, as well as every major historic preservation organization -- national, state, and local. People who oppose the terrible damage that this project will do to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach range from very young soccer players to grand-parents and cover a wide variety of occupations. In one sense this is a generational issue - do we destroy this area or do we protect it for future generations?
Many professionals are lined up against the project. Dr. Travis Longcore, the leading expert on the impacts of artificial lighting on wildlife, wrote a 24-page report detailing the damage this project will do to wildlife in this area. Wayne M. Donaldson, past State Historic Preservation Officer and currently the Chairman of the United States Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) detailed the unmitigated damage this hard-edged and paved sports complex will do to the beauty and character of Golden Gate Park.
There is a feasible alternative to this project. Renovate the Beach Chalet fields with real grass and state of the art construction, new irrigation, gopher controls and new sod. Renovate the West Sunset Playground with a safe (not SBR rubber) artificial turf and some lighting -- there are lights in that area already, and the new lights do not have to be bright enough for TV sports!
Watch the film Beach Chalet Fields Renovation Youtube. Learn the facts -- go to the website or to Facebook SF Ocean Edge or to Flickr SF Ocean Edge or to twitter @SFOceanEdge.
Big Sur, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, what's next on the list of failures of the California Coastal Commission?
On May 9th, 2013, the California Coastal Commission rubber-stamped approval of San Francisco's Beach Chalet soccer complex. Letters and calls from Senators - state and federal - as well as contacts by Lt. Governor Newsom, all brought pressure to bear on the CCC. It was clear to all present that powerful political interests leaned on the Commissioners to abrogate their responsibility to protect the California coast. Reading the SF Examiner story about Big Sur is, as Yogi Berra said, "deja vu all over again."
Development supporters repeated the fallacy that 7 acres of artificial turf and 150,000 watts of sports lighting next to Ocean Beach would have no negative impact on Golden Gate Park - one of the country's major landmark parks - or on Ocean Beach, the beach that San Franciscans go to, to watch a sunset, sit by a fire ring, or gaze at the stars. Notably, none of the Commissioners acknowledged that the City of San Francisco's own environmental impact report identified a practical alternative that meets the project goals—including the need for playtime—without any impact on the coastal zone. In fact, the "need" argument for the soccer complex at this location, was a red herring to push through a pet project, misguidedly supported by an extremely well-financed private foundation.
When the Commissioners approved the Beach Chalet's 60 foot tall sports lights - located only 500 feet from the beach - they did not even discuss the impacts from 150,000 watts of lights that would be lighted until 10:00 p.m. 365 nights a year! They disregarded their own staff report, which described the damage that this project will do to the park and the beach experience for tens of thousands of yearly visitors. They ignored copious evidence from well-credentialed experts on the negative biological and aesthetic impacts of lights on people and especially on wildlife and habitat in the coastal zone.
Only Commissioner Steve Blank seemed willing to uphold his duty to protect the coastline. Blank reminded the panel that its mandate is to uphold the Coastal Act and protect the interests of the 38 million Californians in our shared coastline. The California coastline has remained protected for decades due to the diligence of past Commissions. The Commission is supposed to transcend politics. But the remaining Commissioners failed to do this.
The approval of the Beach Chalet project is not just the acquiescence of the Commission to a single project but an all-out attack on coastal protections. If you are concerned about the integrity of California's coast, you should be outraged. We encourage you to let your elected representatives know that if the Coastal Commissioners cannot abide by the Coastal Act, they should be replaced before they can do even more damage to our remaining coastline.
The battle for San Francisco's own parkland and prime beach is not over. There is currently a CEQA lawsuit in the courts; in addition, a broad coalition of groups is moving forward to continue to fight the Beach Chalet soccer complex. Join with them -- it will take everyone's participation to win back our parkland, our beach and our coast. www.sfoceanedge.org
Ms. Kohn is correct. Ms. Griffin's article was full of dis-information. To learn more, go to www.sfoceanedge.org and click on "rebuttals."
5. Thewater treatment plant - Ms. Griffin is years behind on this issue. The sewagetreatment plant was moved out of the Golden Gate Park years ago and the areaturned into a dump by Rec and Park. What a waste of parkland! Butthat is not the worst of it. A few years ago, the SFPUC with RPD'sblessing was going to build a water treatment factory in that location. Where was Ms. Griffin when you were all fighting the proposed watertreatment factory? All of you were out in the public, talking to theMayor, the SFPUC, and the BOS, asking that the 40,000 square foot factory NOTbe built in Golden Gate Park. SFOcean Edge and our sister group, the Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance,have been asking that the old sewage treatment site be renovated and turnedinto more parkland. The SFPUC has listened anddecided not to build the factory in Golden Gate Park. Rec and Park never made amove to stop this industrial development project; in fact, they supported it. Ms. Griffin can learn more aboutthis here:http://www.goldengateparkprese...
Sadly, this article is full of errors. We urge Ms. Griffin to talk to other people besides Rec and Park before publishing their press releases under her name.Some of the errors:1. Eric Mar did NOT push for an EIR -- ever. There is no public record of this. On the contrary - he ignored all efforts to get him to stand up for Golden Gate Park. The five-month battle by San Franciscans to get an EIR was only resolved when SF Ocean Edge and others filed an Appeal. See the full story of this on our website, under Rebuttals.2. If the EIR cost over $1 million, then it was money that Rec and Park wasted because Rec and Park was not willing to compromise. If they had at any time worked with us, we could have helped them to come up with a better project. What could you have built in your park for $1 million?3. Over 1,000 people objected to the project -- that is in the staff report from the Joint Hearing.4. Putting the words desecration and sacred ground in quotes is a journalistic trick, an effort to denigrate people's love for their parks. Why does Ms. Griffin think it is wrong to love nature and parkland? Does she prefer what the Audubon Society has called the environmental equivalent of paving over 7 acres of Golden Gate Park with asphalt?Go www.sfoceanedge.org for more information and the other side of the story on this project that will damage Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach.
Plastic turf is not only no fun for kids, it is also no fun for birds and other wildlife. The Audubon Society has said that ripping out over 7 acres of living grass and replacing it with over 7 acres of artificial turf at Beach Chalet has the same environmental impact as paving the area with asphalt. Right now, over 70 species of birds use the area for foraging and resting. In addition, the 150,000 watts of light will have a negative impact on Ocean Beach at night. That is not good for either people or for wildlife.Ask Mayor Lee to stop this project -- ask him to forge a compromise. He could do this!Go to www.sfoceanedge.org for more information.
The destruction of the western end of Golden Gate Park isnot a matter of kids vs open space. There are alternatives to this project that will give the kids a placeto play AND protect Golden Gate Park! Yet,the Department of Recreation and Park has refused to listen to reason or toconsider any compromise to this terrible project. Protecting Golden Gate Park may be laughable to someone wholives outside of the City, but it is not to San Franciscans. The Beach Chalet fields are one of the few opengrassy areas in the Park. This is ourgreen space and habitat for our wildlife -- yet we are losing it to development. The Park contains acres of building,roads, traffic, construction yards and more. Golden Gate Park is on its way to becoming aseries of paved and paid attractions, with a few trees sprinkled in here andthere to remind future generations that once upon a time - there was a greatPark here. We support kids -- and all of their interests. Recreation is important, but kids neednature, too. What are we teaching our children? That it is important to value nature -- until it becomesinconvenient? There are other locations for this project closer to thekids who needs these fields -- but there is only one Golden Gate Park.Learn more at www.sfoceanedge.org
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