Edit: if you read just one article about these two propositions, don’t waste your time on mine. Read this one.
In the upcoming Nov. 4th election, Proposition H is to keep natural grass and prohibit artificial lighting in the western part of Golden Gate park (near the Beach Chalet and Ocean Beach). Proposition I would nullify Proposition H.
The main supporters of Proposition H (and opponents of Prop I) are the Fisher brothers, who run Gap. They fund a couple of PACs with names like “Let SF Kids Play” and a foundation called “City Fields Foundation.” Their argument is that artificial turf (made out of ground up tires) and stadium lights help extend the number of hours that kids can play in the fields.
On the other side, educators, environmentalists and parents seem to be speaking out against Prop H and for Prop I. It’s almost enough to see who pays for advertisements in the voter information booklet for each side. If the field renovations would really benefit children (as all of the Let SF Kids Play ads imply), then one would expect to see more support from parents and educators. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Anyway, reservations start at $28/hr. If you’re not able to prove residency with a utility bill (because you are perhaps a child who has no utilities billed to you), then rates start at $78/hr, which I’d guess is a little high for most children.
Then who does benefit? City Fields Foundation is pouring millions into the renovations and the Fisher brothers who are behind it all are businessmen. When do businessmen get involved in projects? The partnership between the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department and City Fields Foundation probably means that CFF gets lucrative contracts for field installation and maintenance.
Here’s an extensive list of reasons to vote yes on H and no on I, including research and links from Jason Jungreis:
1. Golden Gate Park Master Plan states the western end to be kept “pastoral” and “sylvan.”
(https://ia902303.us.archive.org/29/items… see particularly p73, section 4-5)
2. Supporting arguments shamelessly manipulate children: according to the City’s own figures, only 9% of increased playing time is for youth soccer, a fraction of 1% of that increased playing time for youth soccer comes from lighting, and that differential is readily addressable through multiple alternative affirmative proposals that Rec and Park has ignored.
(http://www.cityfieldsfoundation.org/plan… see also Rec and Park spreadsheet analysis; see also other arguments cited below)
3. According to the City’s own figures, only 3% of artificial turf’s forecast increased playing time is due to its ability to be played on after rain in comparison with existing grass fields.
(http://www.cityfieldsfoundation.org/plan… see also Rec and Park spreadsheet analysis)
4. According to Rec and Park Dept’s own figures, the project will cost over $10,000,000, and the turf surface must be replaced every 8 years for $2,000,000.
5. According to Rec and Park Dept’s own figures, proper grass fields with gopher prevention and drainage providing nearly identical playing time would cost only $1,000,000-$2,000,000 and only $36,000 more annually to maintain.
6. There is existing unspent bond money to re-do the fields with grass with drainage and gopher-protection.
7. Estimated 1,600,000 pounds of ground-up tires will be used and will leach carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metal toxins into our drinking water, as water from area directly underneath soccer fields will be pumped into San Francisco west side drinking water.
8. Estimated 1,600,000 pounds of ground-up tires will be used and will produce airborne lead and carbon dust, which medical evidence has correlated to dramatically increased player cancer rates.
9. Studies find dramatically increase in serious injuries with artificial turf compared to grass.
(http://www.ckcs.net/organizations/operat… see pages 8, 12.)
10. Studies find dramatically increased dangerous staph infections, including particularly dangerous MRSA infections.
(http://www.ckcs.net/organizations/operat… see pages 25-26.)
11. No drinking water is used to irrigate grass fields: there already exists a dedicated irrigation system using recycled non-potable water to irrigate the fields.
12. Project calls for lights will be lit until 10:00 p.m.: prevalent fog reflecting 150,000 watts of lighting coming from 60 foot towers will create “halo” effect over the entire area.
13. The National Park Service has submitted comments stating that the 150,000 watts of lighting coming from 60 foot towers will violate its Management Policy on Dark Skies.
(http://www.sf-planning.org/modules/showd… see page 335)
14. Parking and driving in west end of Golden Gate Park will become more dangerous at night with dramatically increased traffic.
(http://www.cityfieldsfoundation.org/plan… significant increased playing time due to
night lighting for adult leagues)
15. Inferior play: the ball skids and does not take true bounce: no mens professional soccer is played on artificial turf.
16. Stated City policy to use school facilities to provide increased available soccer time has not been implemented.
17. Alternatives have been expressly denied consideration by Park and Rec and were denied consideration under the Environmental assessment.
((http://www.sf-planning.org/modules/showd… see generally comments and responses)
18. Rec and Park Dept seems to want the fields in order to bring in more money from adult
leagues, and the whole project may be a sweetheart deal between the Fisher brothers who are backing City Fields Foundation and benefit from the construction of the artificial turf fields.
19. The California Coastal Commission railroaded the proposal through over the fierce unified objection of its staff and experts due to political art-twisting.
20. The impact to the water table was denied consideration under the Environmental impact assessment.
(http://www.sf-planning.org/modules/showd… see generally comments and responses)
21. Around the country, artificial turf fields are being ripped out and re-replaced with grass fields due to increased injury, complaints of the chemical smell, and complaints of terrible playing conditions.
22. Every environmental group is against the artificial turf and lighting proposal.
(see generally the San Francisco Voter’s Pamphlet endorsements:http://sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elec…)
23. Golden Gate Park is past its carrying capacity and people should be invited elsewhere: McLaren Park, second in size to Golden Gate Park, hosts a fraction of users and is more conveniently located.
24. A lit, artificial turf sports complex is the opposite of the express purpose of Golden Gate Park, which to provide a respite to urban paving and lighting.
25. Prop I gives the Park and Rec Dept near-unlimited power to do anything it wants in any park or playground forever into the future, precluding meaningful citizen input.