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Beach Chalet Soccer Field Opposition

October 18, 2012

Although San Francisco is predominantly urban and residential, it homes 1017 acres of the beautiful Golden Gate Park. This large forested area has historically played a large role in the character building of San Francisco and its residents. Over many decades, Golden Gate Park has showed love for San Franciscan’s; hosting high traffic annual music festivals such as Hardly Strictly Blue Grass Festival and Outside Lands.

            However, there is a development plan that threatens to drastically change the natural habitat in order to renovate the Soccer Fields located at the western edge of Golden Gate Park by Ocean Beach. The goal is to replace the natural grass with Astroturf and proper stadium lighting in order for soccer games to extend past sunset.

            Katherine Howard a member of SF Ocean Edge, gives details of the renovation.

“In addition to the 150,000 watt lights, there will be additional light poles, bleacher seating for one thousand, an expanded parking lot by 33% and 30 ft wide concrete side walks,” “There is no way you will feel like you’re in park land anymore.” She said.

            The Beach Chalet Soccer Fields are the center of controversy for organizations like SF Ocean Edge who work to ensure preservation of Golden Gate Park. Although renovation of the park is aimed to increase revenue as well as provide better quality fields for soccer games, Howard opposes the drastic changes to the park and offers alternative solutions.

            “It’s a trade off, are we going to destroy a major habitat area that links us to the beach for 100 hours of play a year?” she said. Howard then offers an alternative suggestion, “We have a proposal called the hybrid alternative,” Howard said. “Swap the location with West Sunset. West sunset is really the only playing fields with not much habitat and is in a much more urbanized location.”

            In an excerpt from Golden Gate Park’s Master Plan under Park Landscape, the plan states, “Recognize the national level significance of the park’s historic landscape and ensure its preservation and restoration.” And to, improve wildlife habitat values around the park and designate areas with high wildlife values as special management areas.”

            However Delaney Borders 21, a student at the University of San Francisco says, “At my high school we had the worst track and fields to play on. Kids used to fall down on the hard dirt and really injure themselves. It wasn’t until after I graduated did they make the switch to Astroturf.”

            Borders recalls going back home for the summer, and visiting where she went to high school. She likes the benefits of her school’s Astroturf, with one minor setback.

            “I remember going back to El Segundo High and doing some exercises and the fields did improve a lot. The only bad thing I heard about Astroturf is the carpet-like- burn it gives you when you fall.”

            In regards to renovation plans, Vicky Krekler 20, who lives in close proximity to the soccer field’s fears for the light reflection and duration for how long the lights will be on during dusk and into the night.

            “I am afraid of whether I will have to deal with seeing the light pollution from my house.” Kreckler said.

            Both Kreckler and Borders were unaware of the renovation plans for the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields and after being briefly informed, were questionable of few of the plans specifics.

            “One of the problems is getting the word out, because The Chronicle, has taken the position from the beginning that it’s a great idea, we haven’t had much impact there.” Howard said.

            San Francisco is small enough city where many decisions are likely to affect you or your neighbor. For more information check out the plans and fields online or with a local politician to see how the plans and oppositions may affect you.

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