mike koozmin/2013 s.f. examiner file photoRenovation of the Beach Chalet athletic fields would allow more than 1

Golden Gate Park fields for kids from all neighborhoods

When was the last time your kids played ball in Golden Gate Park?

Right now, our neighborhood sports fields are shared with the entire city. Due to the scarcity of sports fields citywide, people from all over San Francisco come to our communities to practice, play and exercise. As a result, kids in our neighborhoods are often left waiting to use athletic fields just down the street from their own homes. Meanwhile, some of The City's largest sports fields, located in Golden Gate Park, are locked shut to allow grass to regrow. Literally.

It doesn't have to be this way. This election, there are two ballot measures that will have a direct impact on access to sports fields for our youth and adults. We are asking each of you to join us in voting yes on Proposition I and no on Proposition H on Nov. 4 so that more kids can play.

Over the past eight years, a partnership with the Recreation and Park Department has added tens of thousands of hours of new playtime to San Francisco's sports fields by installing artificial turf and field lights so more people can play. As a result, more than 2,500 kids are playing today versus years past.

As San Francisco youth sports are entirely constrained by a lack of field space, whenever new playtime is created on an athletic field, demand for neighborhood fields is reduced, increasing community access and allowing more kids to play.

The partnership's final project would fix up the worn-down and often-closed Beach Chalet athletic fields in Golden Gate Park. This project would dramatically expand use of these sports fields and create a more welcoming facility for athletes and park visitors alike. In fact, the renovation will result in more than 1,000 kids being added to teams currently capped due to a lack of field space. As more play is moved to the Beach Chalet fields, demand for our neighborhood fields will drop and our kids will get the opportunity to play on those new fields. It's a win-win.

Unfortunately, a small group of folks long opposed to the project managed to gather enough signatures to place a measure on the November ballot banning the use of artificial turf and field lights in western Golden Gate Park. This measure, Prop. H, will stop the Beach Chalet athletic fields renovation from going forward and prevent more kids from playing.

The good news is that most of the members of the Board of Supervisors, with the mayor's support, responded with their own ballot measure, Prop. I, allowing the project to proceed if The City's measure receives more votes at the polls.

It is unfair that a small group of people are dictating where our kids can play — whether it be in Golden Gate Park or down the street from their own home.

Please encourage your friends, family and colleagues to vote yes on I and no on H. Let kids play!

Malia Cohen is supervisor for District 10 and London Breed is supervisor for District 5.

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