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ACTION ALERT APRIL 19, 2014
(voice or text) 415-823-9743
BALLOT INITIATIVE FILED TO PROTECT GOLDEN GATE PARK
On April 17, 2014, a Ballot Initiative was filed with the San Francisco Board of Elections for the November, 2014 election that would permit renovation of the sports playing fields in the western part of Golden Gate Park with natural grass only. The ballot measure, entitled “Golden Gate Park Athletic Fields Renovation Act” will require the City’s Recreation and Parks Department to maintain all sports fields in the pastoral portion of the Park west of Crossover Drive as natural grass, and would prohibit night sports lighting in this part of the Park. The ballot measure was filed by the Coalition to Protect Golden Gate Park, a citizen’s group made up of individuals, community associations and environmental organizations dedicated to keeping Golden Gate Park free of toxic materials. Voters will have the opportunity to decide whether a 7+ acre grass playing field at the Beach Chalet Fields should be bulldozed and replaced with an artificial turf pavement, lighted every night of the year with tall stadium lighting, or whether the fields will be maintained as natural grass and host sporting events in a natural context as they have been since the 1930’s. This initiative would affect any future project at the Polo Fields as well.
Coalition members have numerous concerns about the negative impacts of the proposed Beach Chalet project. These concerns include:
• environmental and human health threats posed by toxic chemicals in plastic turf and the rubber tire crumb infill;
• the impact of high intensity sports lighting which would add significant light pollution that would impact birds and other wildlife that use the Park’s open spaces;
• adverse impacts on the natural aquifer that underlies these fields which will soon be used to supplement the City’s potable water supply;
• impacts on combined sewer overflow discharges into the Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach;
• impact of the Beach Chalet project on the Golden Gate Park historic district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; and,
• the precedent for the rest of the California Coast set by the California Coastal Commission’s ruling approving the plan.
Supporters of the initiative believe this issue must be taken to the voters because the decision-makers in the City and the California Coastal Commission disregarded a wealth of information about the harmful effects of artificial turf, night lighting, and the inappropriateness of a sports stadium in the naturalistic western end of Golden Gate Park. Thousands of concerned residents signed petitions, wrote letters, testified at hearings, and publically protested the Beach Chalet project. Nevertheless, the decision-makers turned a deaf ear to this outcry and are allowing the project to go forward.