Competing Ballot Measures Would Ask Voters To Make Decision On Beach Chalet Astro-Turf Plan

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and eight city supervisors announced a ballot measure Monday to ask voters in November to allow improvements to city children’s playgrounds, trails and athletic fields.

The measure was sparked by the fight over the proposed renovation of the Beach Chalet soccer fields on the western edge of Golden Gate Park.

The proposed ballot measure focuses on recreational areas in the city that have gotten state-mandated environmental review and approval by the California Coastal Commission and other necessary regulatory bodies to allow renovations and conversions.

The measure aims to ensure park projects can proceed as planned once vetted and approved, instead of being held up in appeals and other procedural delays.

The city’s plan to convert the Beach Chalet grass fields to turf and add lighting, fencing and other amenities has long been under contention by opposition groups claiming the project is environmentally destructive and harmful to children.

The $14 million renovation of the 7-acre site has been approved by the Coastal Commission and several city agencies, including the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, but has been delayed by multiple appeals processes and lawsuits.

According to the city’s Recreation and Park Department, the new Beach Chalet fields will increase playtime and help the environment by saving millions of gallons of water each year and cut back on herbicide use in parks.

According to the department, the delays are costly and deprive residents’ use of the facilities.

A competing ballot measure championed by the Coalition to Protect Golden Gate Park, a group of residents, park advocates and environmentalists, is collecting the required nearly 10,000 signatures to stop the turf renovations, group spokesman Mike Murphy said.

The group started collecting signatures on Earth Day, April 19.

If the initiative known as the Golden Gate Park Recreational Fields Renovation Act is approved, it would mandate that athletic fields in the western area of Golden Gate Park remain as natural grass and not allow nighttime field lighting in those areas.

The required signatures must be submitted by July 7 for the measure to make it onto the November ballot.

“What’s being proposed is an unconscionable action, both from an environmental, human health and historic standpoint,” Murphy said about the Beach Chalet renovation plans.

Coalition members said voters would also be deciding about potential changes at Golden Gate Park’s Polo Fields through the initiative.

If both measures make it on the ballot and are approved by voters, the one with the higher number of votes will go into effect.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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  • BobSF

    The only unconscionable thing about this situation is how the most-reviewed, most-vetted upgrade to a recreational facility in the city’s history continues to be hamstrung by these NIMBY complaint clubs. They have had their day/week/years! in court, now LET THE KIDS PLAY! A quick, harsh reminder – the city decided that athletic fields would be great for this location… 85 years ago!! This is about letting a dilapidated athletic facility reach it’s designed, intended potential in service to the city’s kids. It is disgusting and pathetic that NIMBYs with too much time on their hands are pretending that a meadow in a wildlife preserve is being bulldozed. LET THE KIDS PLAY.

    • BarryEisenberg

      It’s all about more money for Rec Park, fees. If a fair share of the city budget were regularly allocated to RP they wouldn’t have to resort to such misguided use of a precious public resource. John McClaren, architect of GG Park, must be spinning in his grave over the distortion such a mega-complex with its every night stadium lighting represents to this quiet corner of the park. Golden Gate Park belongs to all the people of San Francisco and beyond. It’s not the plaything of a bunch of rich friends of the Mayor to do with as they please, who, when they meet resistance from the common folk, claim that what they want is only “for the children”.

      • BobSF

        Preposterous. John McLaren designated FOUR athletic fields at Beach Chalet, and if it has been a ‘quiet corner’ of the park it’s because of the horrid disrepair of those fields – the failure in effort to realize his design – so yes, he would turn over in his grave at the thought of his name being leveraged by a bunch of NIMBYs trying to reinvent the 1930 designation of what that space is for. The project is funded almost entirely by PRIVATE donations and foundations (City Fields Foundation), and these upgrades have proven time and again to be fantastically successful in terms of nominal maintenance costs and putting a dent in the demand for quality playing fields. And my god, ‘the common folk’ have exacted more due diligence and process and litigation than from any previous park & rec upgrade. You want your day in court, you get a year in court, and still it’s not enough that you’re wrong. Al Gore knew he was right, but it finally came time for him to go. LET THE KIDS PLAY.

        • BarryEisenberg

          You realize, Bob (2mey?), that these fake fields require a complete overhaul every eight years? The toxic tire crumb fill has to be maintained and tends to bunch up over time so the city will be on the hook for that maintenance and it won’t some cheap. It’s not exactly a free and generous gift with no strings attached that you’re trying to promote here—privatization pure and simple, the selling (or in this case gifting) of an irreplaceable public asset for political ends.

          Much better for the children (and for the many adults better able to afford the high rental fees, probably squeezing out the kids ultimately), much better would be proper maintenance of the real grass fields we already have along with natural development of the West End Dump area into a promised additional couple of grass fields. This would require adequate staffing of the understaffed garderners’ crew and RP will no doubt claim they can’t afford that but how many gardeners do you think could be hired for the six figure salary RP director Phil Ginsburg pulls down? Get rid of a few political hacks like him (put in place by Gavin Newsom) and the maintenance problem will be solved. Gophers must be properly managed and the same goes for our Republican mayor.

          • BobSF

            The mayor, like so many San Franciscans, has simply had enough, after the process avalanche over this issue. This lively debate has run it’s course, Barry. Many, many times over. More times than any debate over any park upgrade in the city’s history – perhaps the nation’s history. The issue here is that the conscientious objections and concerns – rightly raised, rightly addressed, and rightly put to rest – over several years of process and litigation, has now devolved to obstinate fingers-in-ears stalling, sore-loser protester schtick. There is overwhelming precedent for upgrading athletic facilities with synthetic turf to meet the demand for reliable field time. EVERY high school and college in the city has done so – public and private! And thanks for your advice on what’s best for ‘the children’ but you’re obviously unaware of the inevitable nightmare that maintaining respectable grass athletic fields on a large scale always becomes.

          • BarryEisenberg

            Ooooh, the mayor is fed up with the pwocess! So what’s he gonna do, shoot all the gophers like some Elmer Fudd? Or maybe blow them all up like whatshisname in Caddyshack? A little extreme for gopher control wouldn’t you say? But no more so than what’s proposed for Beach Chalet. I suppose you’ll try for the Polo Fields next. Hell, why not astroturf and stadium light the whole GG Park, save a real bundle and solve the homeless problem there too?

          • BobSF

            AH HA!! You are at last laid bare, Barry F. Eisenberg. Read back your comment – THIS is exactly what everyone is hearing from the complaint clubs at this point, and baby, it’s time for y’all to GO. “Ahhh… They’re paving paradise… and putting up parking lots!!”. Victorious laughter aside, feel great that the $10mm West Sunset soccer field renovation will NOT be synthetic turf, so they’ll be back to looking like a$s, guzzling millions of gallons of water, and serving NOBODY in no time.

          • BarryEisenberg

            This Lee ballot initiative tells me that: a)the mayor and his team are worried the people might once again shoot down his big development plans, and b)he seeks to cut off all further democratic process on this issue. Possibly because he’s done so much travelling to China Lee is confused about where he is. So what’s your excuse BobSF for your “time for y’all to GO” attitude?

          • BobSF

            You’re a pip. The ballot initiative is based on the worry that a much needed and absolutely brilliant improvement to a significant athletic facility would be held hostage to petty special interest clubs, screaming with their fingers in their ears. How can exacting the MOST rigor, diligence and ponderous process in the City’s (maybe the country’s) history to service a set of complaints and demands (that never arose from a dozen previous projects of nearly the same specifications) not some sort of victory for this set of NIMBY complainers..? My excuse is that I know how to choose battles – again you should take comfort that the West Sunset soccer renovation very blatantly chose to replace with grass fields that will be utter crap in a couple years. Congratulations!

          • BarryEisenberg

            Haha, a “pip”! Well I never… This colloquy is now concluded. See ya in court 🙂

          • BobSF

            Already won there. See you at the polls. Letting the people speak, etc.

          • BarryEisenberg
          • BobSF

            Good luck!

        • Duane

          Yes BobSF….the project is funded but for INSTALLATION ONLY. There is no funding for the massive upkeep that fake turf fields need. You know….all it will take is the untimely death of a pregnant Snowy Plover due to eating toxic bits of old tire rubber and you can kiss your fake turf fields goodby (should they ever be installed). The NATIONAL PARK SERVICE will shut the fields down in a heart beat and then you will have empty playing space once again and dream of the days when KIDS COULD PLAY

          • BobSF

            LOL! You’re comparing the utility vs. upkeep costs for synthetic fields versus… grass fields?!? Maybe a repeat of 2nd Grade math will be helpful with your issues. Also – kudos on revealing the complaint club’s plan to force-feed tire bits into pregnant snowy plovers and blame it on the field project. BTW – Why aren’t you asking to have all of the tar/asphalt roads throughout GGPark ripped up..?! The heat signature and chemical runoff from them is exponentially more harmful to the plovers than finally having the top-shelf athletic facility envisioned in 1930. See you at the ballots, you’ll get a sense of what people think of your belligerence then.

  • sfoceanedge

    We would like to see the Beach Chalet Fields in Golden Gate Park renovated as a natural grass playing field with good construction and good maintenance. In that way, kids can continue to play sports but also appreciate the value of habitat — over 70 birds have been identified in this area alone!.

    Sadly, the proposed artificial turf soccer complex for this area will destroy the habitat. The project will install over 7 acres of artificial turf and over 150,000 watts of sports lighting in prime parkland and just a few hundred feet from Ocean Beach and the Snowy Plover habitat.

    The proposed stadium lights are advertised as being environmentally friendly, but that is very far from the truth.

    To learn about the true environmental damage that this project will cause, read
    Prof. Travis Longcore’s paper on the impact of artificial lighting on habitat and wildlife in this area. (Slideshare Professor Travis Longcore)

    And a wonderful film can be seen on Youtube showing the beauty of the area
    and what will be destroyed by this project – – Beach Chalet Fields Renovation Youtube.

    We support kids playing sports, but there are other outdoor activities that do not cause as many injuries and are beneficial to children on many levels. For example, San Franciscans overwhelmingly responded in favor of nature paths and nature experiences in a 2004 survey by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (, Leon Younger Recreation Assessment Report.)

    Children also need to have direct experiences where they learn to value and appreciate nature. To learn more about Nature Deficit Disorder, read Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods.”

    If you are interested in joining our fight to renovate these fields with natural grass and use the rest of the funds to fix up other fields in SF for kids to play on, please contact SF Ocean Edge. Other ideas and issues about the artificial turf project can be found at our website –

    If you would like to help the ballot initiative signature drive, contact or write to .

  • AAFerguson

    I wonder if that’s legal: denying citizens the right to exhaust administrative process…

    • BarryEisenberg

      It certainly sounds open to litigation, prone to litigation maybe.

  • Soccer Mom for Grass

    I am a parent of a soccer player,play soccer myself, and I don’t want astroturf at the beach chalet fields. Astroturf is not good for families or soccer.

  • Duane

    Dear Bob…you do know that the area around the ocean has several features that do not exist at fields in the Mission…..Sand, Wind, and Rust. Sand will blow into the turf at far greater levels than seen in the Mission fields. Wind will blow the broken up turf particles in a much wider area than at the Mission fields. Rust will destroy the stadium lighting and cause possible death or sever injury when the bolts break due to lack of upkeep common in western end of GGP and these heavy lights come crashing to the ground. By the way, what kids are your carrying on about anyhow? I mean how many kids play soccer after sunset (oh I get it….you are using the kids tactic as a ploy so you can get your ADULT TEAM on the fields). Time to come clean BOB….you are NOT cheering for the kids….you are cheering for yourself (or you are part owner of the Beach Chalet who stands to make a bundle in drink sales after the ADULT teams play their night games).

    • BobSF

      Duane, thanks for your thinking here. Ironically, I do have 3 younger kids, and I’ll not be frustrated into moving to the suburbs by do-nothing NIMBY’s like yourself. Buildings and light posts have existed along the Great Highway for decades without rusting, toppling and killing anyone. Get a life on that one. This is the most-vetted improvement to an athletic facility in the history of the city, state, perhaps the country. You’re complaining for the sake of complaining, you clearly have no skin in this game other than to kvetch about something. See you at the polls.

    • oorfenegro

      There’s lots of sand, wind, humidity and rust along the Gulf Coast but the stadium lighting and artifical turf in Death Valley (LSU stadium) the New Orleans Zephyrs minor league stadium and countless high school and community college stadium lights on the Gulf Coast have not come crashing down or turf uprooted, even after major hurricanes, so I’m sure the lights and turf will be able to withstand the relatively minor weather conditions of the San Francisco oceanfront. Next week the sun sets at about 5 so kids do play after sunset if there are lights. The voters have spoken, let the lights shine on the astroturf.

  • BobSF

    And the people spoke. And it was good. And the workers began their work that very day. And it was good. See y’all at the grand opening late next summer.