Lawsuit challenging the Beach Chalet turf project goes to trial

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Artist rendering of what the Beach Chalet fields will look like with stadium lights and artificial turf.

Plans to place artificial turf and stadium lights on Beach Chalet’s soccer fields in Golden Gate have been in the works since 2011, and local environmental groups have been fighting the proposal and losing each time. Now, their final hopes rest on a lawsuit going to trial this Friday.

[UPDATE 8/16: Presiding Judge Teri L. Jackson is calling for more input from the plaintiff and defendant attorneys on Wednesday, August 21, so a decision in the case isn't expected until then at the earliest. on that day at the earliest. Check back on Monday for coverage of went down in the courtroom during today's trial.]

The SF Coalition for Children's Outdoor Play, the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter, and other groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 when it chose turf that uses styrene-butadiene rubber from old tires.

“We’re going to argue that it violates the Environmental Quality Act when the city decided to use the most toxic rubber,” plaintiffs attorney Richard Drury said. “We’re asking the judge to do a new environmental impact report and to consider other alternatives, such as using more environmentally friendly material.”

Katherine Howard, spokesperson for SF Ocean Edge, a group of environmentalists and residents who live near the site, has been a leading opponent of the project.

“We feel that the project is totally wrong,” Howard said. “Golden Gate Park is described as an escape from the city, and to cover acres of it’s land with grounded up tires is awful.”

In May, the California Coastal Commission denied an appeal of the project after a hearing was called to determine whether or not the plan violates the Coastal Act and the city’s Local Coastal Plan, which calls for naturalistic conditions at the site.

“We believe that this is a strong case,” Arthur Feinstein of the Sierra Club said. “If we lose we have the opportunity to go to a higher court of appeals.”
Trial for the lawsuit starts at 9:45 a.m. this Friday, August 16 at the San Francisco Superior Court of California in Room 503, and is expected to last two to four hours.

Comments

defendant and court costs if they lose - that'll ensure we stop these endless, ridiculous and frivolous lawsuits. Like the one the pro-Prop 8 people lost today. Right now they can sue endlessly with no consequences. We need to put a stop to that.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

It effectively prohibits people with less money and power from seeking redress in the courts.

Hopefully this won't be an issue. All of us who live near the park, or who use it, are hoping they win this. And they should. The coastal commission tossed aside a well-reasoned report by its own staff, just to please some powerful politicians. That's not the way things are supposed to work in a democracy.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 15, 2013 @ 7:41 am

You say "all of us who live near the park, or who use it, are hoping they win it."

I'm rather certain that some people who live near the park, or who use it, are actually hoping the turf fields get installed. Didn't many members of the public testified to just that point?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 15, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

then you are against gender liberation; and if you are in favor of gender liberation, then you necessarily have to also be in favor of "tort reform." How dumb can they be Lucretia? Lucretia thinks she knows.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 15, 2013 @ 10:06 am

I agree. These people sue because they know they can and will delay until the costs born by the proponents are no longer surmountable.
This isn't about rubber In parks, it's about NIMBY control over park resources.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

Here are the facts:

The Beach Chalet soccer complex means the loss of over 7 acres of green grass to 7 acres of artificial turf, made up of gravel, plastic carpet, and potentially toxic tire waste infill; 150,000 watts of sports lighting, lighted until 10:00 pm every night of the year and located just a few hundred feet from Ocean Beach; loss of plantings to over 1 acre of new paving; loss of over 55 trees; loss of more parkland to seating for over 1,000 visitors; expansion of the parking lot by 33% - in a City that brags about being "transit first." Loss of carbon sequestration equal to planting over 7,000 trees and having them grow for 10 years. Loss of the night sky to families at Ocean Beach, who visit to view the sunset, to gaze at the stars, or to sit by the fire rings. These plastic fields will have to be replaced in 8 years, with no money in the budget to pay for replacements.

Rec and park is always crying poor - how are they going to pay for replacement fields? Does anyone think that San Francisco will have more money in 8 years than it has now? Will soccer players have fewer fields after all 30 acres of artificial turf fields have worn out and there is no funding to replace them?

Add to all of this, placement of this project in a tsunami zone. What will be the impact on the park and on the aquifer under the park (from which San Franciscans will soon be drinking) when a tidal wave spreads tons of tire waste throughout the park?

The Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Golden Gate Audubon Society, as well as over 10,000 people who signed petitions, postcards, and wrote personal letters, are opposed to this project. Also opposed are Viking Soccer Parents for Green Grass in Golden Gate Park and Educators for Photosynthesis, an organization of teachers.

And don't forget the 44-member, city-wide neighborhood organization, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, as well as every major historic preservation organization -- national, state, and local. People who oppose the terrible damage that this project will do to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach range from very young soccer players to grand-parents and cover a wide variety of occupations. In one sense this is a generational issue - do we destroy this area or do we protect it for future generations?

Many professionals are also lined up against the project. Dr. Travis Longcore, the leading expert on the impacts of artificial lighting on wildlife, wrote a 24-page report detailing the damage this project will do to wildlife in this area. Wayne M. Donaldson, past State Historic Preservation Officer and currently the Chairman of the United States Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) detailed the unmitigated damage this hard-edged and paved sports complex will do to the beauty and character of Golden Gate Park.

There is a feasible alternative to this project. Renovate the Beach Chalet fields with real grass and state of the art construction, new irrigation, gopher controls and new sod. Renovate the West Sunset Playground with a safe (not SBR rubber) artificial turf and some lighting -- there are lights in that area already, and the new lights do not have to be bright enough for TV sports!

The San Francisco Department of Recreation and Park, by refusing to even consider this alternative, has introduced a lot of strife into a situation that could have been resolved quickly, peacefully, and positively for everyone involved.

Learn the facts -- go to the website or to Facebook SF Ocean Edge or to Flickr SF Ocean Edge or to twitter @SFOceanEdge.

Posted by SF Ocean Edge on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

Here are the facts:

The Beach Chalet soccer complex means the loss of over 7 acres of green grass to 7 acres of artificial turf, made up of gravel, plastic carpet, and potentially toxic tire waste infill; 150,000 watts of sports lighting, lighted until 10:00 pm every night of the year and located just a few hundred feet from Ocean Beach; loss of plantings to over 1 acre of new paving; loss of over 55 trees; loss of more parkland to seating for over 1,000 visitors; expansion of the parking lot by 33% - in a City that brags about being "transit first." Loss of carbon sequestration equal to planting over 7,000 trees and having them grow for 10 years. Loss of the night sky to families at Ocean Beach, who visit to view the sunset, to gaze at the stars, or to sit by the fire rings. These plastic fields will have to be replaced in 8 years, with no money in the budget to pay for replacements.

Rec and park is always crying poor - how are they going to pay for replacement fields? Does anyone think that San Francisco will have more money in 8 years than it has now? Will soccer players have fewer fields after all 30 acres of artificial turf fields have worn out and there is no funding to replace them?

Add to all of this, placement of this project in a tsunami zone. What will be the impact on the park and on the aquifer under the park (from which San Franciscans will soon be drinking) when a tidal wave spreads tons of tire waste throughout the park?

The Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Golden Gate Audubon Society, as well as over 10,000 people who signed petitions, postcards, and wrote personal letters, are opposed to this project. Also opposed are Viking Soccer Parents for Green Grass in Golden Gate Park and Educators for Photosynthesis, an organization of teachers.

And don't forget the 44-member, city-wide neighborhood organization, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, as well as every major historic preservation organization -- national, state, and local. People who oppose the terrible damage that this project will do to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach range from very young soccer players to grand-parents and cover a wide variety of occupations. In one sense this is a generational issue - do we destroy this area or do we protect it for future generations?

Many professionals are also lined up against the project. Dr. Travis Longcore, the leading expert on the impacts of artificial lighting on wildlife, wrote a 24-page report detailing the damage this project will do to wildlife in this area. Wayne M. Donaldson, past State Historic Preservation Officer and currently the Chairman of the United States Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) detailed the unmitigated damage this hard-edged and paved sports complex will do to the beauty and character of Golden Gate Park.

There is a feasible alternative to this project. Renovate the Beach Chalet fields with real grass and state of the art construction, new irrigation, gopher controls and new sod. Renovate the West Sunset Playground with a safe (not SBR rubber) artificial turf and some lighting -- there are lights in that area already, and the new lights do not have to be bright enough for TV sports!

The San Francisco Department of Recreation and Park, by refusing to even consider this alternative, has introduced a lot of strife into a situation that could have been resolved quickly, peacefully, and positively for everyone involved.

Learn the facts -- go to the website or to Facebook SF Ocean Edge or to Flickr SF Ocean Edge or to twitter @SFOceanEdge.

Posted by SF Ocean Edge on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

Learn how to use an Internet message board, Luddite.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

The Beach Chalet project has NEVER lost a single vote before any public decision-making body, usually by unanimous or lopsided margins. This includes various commissions, the Board of Supes and the State Coastal Commission. The NIMBYs response is that these bodies are corrupt and foolish and their decisions illegitimate. It doesn't appear as if they've EVER considered that their views are really those of a fringe minority. It now looks as if the court is going to validate all the previous democratic decisions upholding the project.

Couldn't the folks at SF Ocean Edge, CSFN, Sierra Club and other NIMBY groups take solace that, thru their energies, they have delayed this project for years and cost the City's taxpayers a few million dollars? After all, isn't that a considerable victory??

Well, perhaps they could still appeal to the Supreme Court!!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 15, 2013 @ 8:24 am

Ya gotta wonder who's being paid to care about the toxic fields program and to attack citizens who don't need to be paid to care about the future of San Francisco's parks.

Posted by anon on Aug. 15, 2013 @ 8:43 am

has repeatedly said that the government knows best.

Be it the SFMTA, being signed up automatically to public power, telling pharmacy's what they can sell.

The Bay Guardian position is that the government knows best for you.

If you are complaining about this soccer expanse you are standing in the way of good government.

Can we now move on to something important like where burrito trucks can park?

Posted by - on Aug. 16, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

unwilling or otherwise but the lack of intellectual capacity is the originating element for that stupid post.

spoken like a 6th grader with a modicum of understanding of litigation concepts, but no concept of reality borne from empiricism.

i.e. living a little

Posted by Guest on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 3:12 pm
Posted by Guest on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

The Coastal Commission abrogated its duty to protect the coast by rejecting it's own staff report. Why? To benefit a few capitalist cronies of powerful politicians. If there was ever a clearer case of government corruption, I haven't seen it. Aren't you right wingers supposed to be against government corruption? Or is it OK if the hated progressives lose in the process?

Posted by Greg on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

Stretching from the Board of Supervisors all the way to the Coastal Commission. Greg knows what's up.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

Anything a right wing troll disagrees with = "conspiracy"

Posted by Greg on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

Nothing more than a pig at a trough, devouring taxpayer dollars while destroying San Francisco open space.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 19, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

Where are the proofreaders?

:(

Posted by guest on Aug. 20, 2013 @ 8:45 am

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