Coastal Commission signs off on Beach Chalet soccer fields

May 9, 2013 8:55:58 PM PDT
A state commission says, despite heated opposition, the city should be allowed to move forward with the plan to refurbish the 70-year-old Beach Chalet soccer fields at Golden Gate Park.

Thursday's hearing before the California Coastal Commission lasted for hours with opponents and supporters signaling their feelings on the matter.

For more than two years there has been passionate debate about the Beach Chalet soccer fields. The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department plans to partner with a non-profit on a multi-million dollar renovation that calls for synthetic turf to replace the natural grass and light installations for night time matches.

"We'll be able to add nearly 10,000 hours of play to these fields at a time when it's critical that we provide more field capacity for families," Rec and Park Dept. Director Phil Ginsburg said.

More than 10,000 kids play soccer on the beach chalet fields every year, with more signing up all the time. They deal with gopher holes and muddy conditions, but opponents say turf releases potentially cancer causing toxins.

"I'm opposed because I think children need the natural grass; it's healthier for them, healthier for the environment, the animals," opponent Lynn Gavin said.

"There's nobody in Rec and Park that is paying attention to environmental concerns and maintaining the environment," opponent Denis Mosgofian said.

Four city government bodies have already approved the plans. Now, the California Coastal Commission has unanimously given its stamp of approval.

Even though its own staff recommended otherwise, Ric Olivas says he's played soccer at the beach chalet since he was 10 years old and is ready for the renovations to finally move forward.

"They've always been soccer fields, not a pastoral meadows as has been stated, and they've always been in disrepair," Olivas said.

Those who want to stop the project aren't giving up. They still have a lawsuit pending against the city alleging planners failed to comply with the state Environmental Quality Act.


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