The City Fields projects in San Francisco were manufactured out of a private-public partnership between SF Rec and Park and a private foundation started by the billionaire Fisher Brothers, heirs to the GAP, Old Navy, and Banana Republic fortune. The value of this type of partnership arrangement to its investors and to the public is matter of some controversy. The City Fields Foundation has engaged in a concerted lobbying and PR effort to champion the specific type of artificial play field system, plastic turf with SBR (Styrene Butyl Rubber, or waste tire crumb) infill, that is now used on many of the City’s athletic fields.
The City and the Rec and Park Department have aggressively pursued grants whose aim is to divert waste tires from landfill disposal and promote markets for recycled-content tire products, from the State of California. The safety of these products and the plastic in which they reside is questionable. That they are composed of toxic chemicals which have been proven to pose a direct health threat to humans and have been shown to have direct and immediate impacts on environmental quality is certain.
These athletic fields are capitalized by bonds paid for by SF taxpayers. The interest on these bonds is paid for by SF taxpayers. In some cases, funding for state grants which offer incentives for the use of tire derived products comes from bonds paid for by taxpayers. Taxpayers pay the interest on those bonds too. The money that flows from the state to the local level goes wherever it goes. Would you pay and pay again, and again, and again for a questionable product? If that product had a useful life of just 8 years, would you do it again? Or, as it could be in this case, would you hire a gardener?
The truth about the sphere of influence of influential, big money contributors in City Hall (and elsewhere) and how that sphere of influence affects us and the public places in the environment in which we live, work, and play, is hard to handle.
The truth is not fresh news. The Fisher gang have been busted before. Along with a major contributor, Charles Schwaab, the gang who started, funded, and continue to fund the City Fields Foundation, which is responsible for the toxic Astroturf (Field Turf) installations all over town, know how money gets money and how to buy favors. That news went out a while ago. here.