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  1. There is not a case of birds vs. kids. It is a case of the City ignoring a win-win alternative that could provide kids a place to play while protecting the western edge of Golden Gate Park as habitat and as parkland for everyone to enjoy.

    Why is this project so damaging to the Park?

    It replaces seven acres of grassy playing field with seven acres of artificial turf and adds 150,000 watts of sports lights, right next to Ocean Beach. The lights will be lighted from dusk until 10:00 p.m. every night of the year, impacting couples who stroll along the promenade at sunset, families who star-gaze at the Dark Sky, and fire worshipers who enjoy the fire rings on the beach in the dark.

    The project will introduce additional paving into what is now a vegetated area, build bleacher seating for over 1,000 spectators, and cut down over 55 trees. Artificial turf is made up of a gravel base, old tires or other infill, and plastic grass. The Audubon Society has described the 7 acres of artificial turf as the environmental equivalent of paving 7 acres of parkland with an asphalt parking lot.

    It is ironic that while the City is removing tiny bits of concrete in the Paving to Parks program, it is planning to destroy the habitat and beauty of a wide swath of the western edge of Golden Gate Park.

    Turning the western end of Golden Gate Park into an urbanized soccer complex runs counter to the 1998 Golden Gate Park Master Plan, the 2004 National Register listing, the city’s own Coastal Plan, and the 2012 Ocean Beach Master Plan. These plans were created with a vision of the Park; the current soccer complex plan is short-sighted — what is needed is a vision for the Park as parkland.

    There are financial considerations, also — the project budget has been quoted at between $9.6 and $13 million. The Beach Chalet fields could undergo a simple renovation with natural grass for much less and the rest of the 2008 Bond funding could be used to fix up other playing fields in San Francisco. This would release more funding for our money-starved parks in the upcoming 2012 Bond.

    In a few years, San Franciscans will be drinking the water from the aquifer under Golden Gate Park. If the artificial turf run-off has to be treated for toxics, then the rainwater that falls on the field will have to be drained to the sewage treatment plant and processed.

    Artificial turf is usually warrantied for 8 to 10 years. With the completion of this project, San Francisco will have over 30 acres of artificial turf on RPD land — where will the City find the funding to pay for replacing it all when it wears out in 10 years? Kids can’t play soccer on old gravel and worn-out plastic grass.

    There is a win-win alternative – -fix up the Beach Chalet fields with real grass and NO sports lights and then use the rest of the funding to fix up other playing fields for kids all over San Francisco.

    There is only one Golden Gate Park – let’s preserve it as parkland for the enjoyment of everyone today and for future generations.