Protester arrested at Beach Chalet


San Francisco police said they arrested one person in Golden Gate Park Friday during a protest by opponents of a soccer field renovation project near the Beach Chalet that includes the installation of artificial turf and night lighting.

Police said they arrested one person around 2:45 p.m. after he or she refused to sign a citation for interfering with a park employee, a violation of the city’s municipal code.

Police did not name the person arrested, but one resident, Kathleen McCowin, has been staging a protest at the soccer fields site since Thursday in response to the start of construction on the project.

McCowin, who has identified herself as the president of Soccer Parents and Coaches for Grass in Golden Gate Park, was joined by other onlookers today.

McCowin is part of a coalition of opponents to the artificial turf project, which has fought it through a series of appeals and legal actions, culminating in an election featuring dueling ballot measures on Tuesday.

On Tuesday night, preliminary election results indicated voters passed Proposition I that permits construction of the project, while rejecting a competing measure, Proposition H, that would have prohibited it.

San Francisco Recreation and Parks officials quickly launched construction on the soccer fields Wednesday morning, sparking protests from opponents who argued that the city should wait until all votes were counted.

While construction was postponed until after the election, “the renovation began [Wednesday] morning after it was clear the voters had approved the fields and the outcome of the election would not change,” officials with the City Fields Foundation, the project’s chief supporter, said in a statement earlier this week.

The statement said:

“Work permits for the project had been issued months ago, prior to the measures being placed on the ballot.”

Critics of the soccer fields project, which include environmental and neighborhood groups, have argued that the lighting on the fields would be visible from Ocean Beach and would spoil one of the few natural spaces left in The City.

They also have concerns about the long-term safety of artificial turf. At least one appeal on a lawsuit filed by project opponents remains to be heard in court.

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