Beach Chalet Athletic Fields Design

Despite the fact that voters in San Francisco approved a ballot measure in support of the approved conversion of the Beach Chalet’s four grass soccer fields to synthetic turf and the project has broken ground, opponents of the project haven’t stopped fighting and the Sierra Club has formally counter attacked.

A legal challenge of the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was filed in San Francisco Superior Court last year. And while the Court has since determined that the EIR met all necessary requirements, upheld the project approval, and dismissed the petition, the decision has been appealed.

In addition to other claims, the appeal accuses the City of failing to disclose that the turf material exceeds undefined “toxicity standards” and that the EIR failed to analyze a potential “hybrid alternative” for athletic field renovations across the city under which some fields would be upgraded with synthetic turf, but others, such as those at the Beach Chalet, would remain as natural grass.

Oral arguments were heard last week and the fate of the fields is now in the hands the appellate court.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Aaron Goodman

    Sierra Club – at least they understand the issue of alternatives, toxicity, and the lies the “wreck-n-park” profused in the public. Thank goodness there are people willing to challenge the “machine” and stand up against the improper use of toxic materials. This is a natural area, and the city and appeal should look seriously at the concerns of the public. Many of whom opposed the rubber vs. natural grass.

    • Posted by spencer

      Wow. Unbelievable. I wish the Sierra club would fight for more trees in the city and support high rise development over sprawl, 2 things that would actually help environment. The presidio trust has destroyed hundreds of trees and trails in the presidio over past few years. Please go after that.

      • Posted by Frisco

        The trees in the Presidio were all planted at the same time over a century ago, so the entire forest is now nearing the end of its life. It’s not normal for a forest to die out all at once, but this was a result of the artificial planting. They are now replanting over a longer period of time so the resulting new forest will have a healthy ongoing lifespan.

    • Posted by Glicky

      The naturally occurring state of this area is sand dunes, not play fields. Natural Area has a very specific meaning in RPD usage and this is not a natural area.

      • Posted by curmudgeon

        Thank you Glicky, you’re absolutely correct.

    • Posted by eddy

      Let’s talk about AstroTurfing.

      The voters have spoken.

    • Posted by JackBaker

      The local Sierra Club has no legitimacy – it’s run by a group of older, nearly all white, property owners who “think locally, act locally.” Their positions often run counter to enhancing sustainability; their opposition to dense housing near transit is inexplicable (except that much of their funding comes from wealthy individuals who want to constrict supply so that their property values increase). No true progressive can support their actions.

  2. Posted by San Francisco

    enough with this alreday

  3. Posted by Sierrajeff

    The S.F. branch of the Sierra Club lost all legitimacy in their fight against greater density and infill (which helps preserve open space and reduce emissions) – therefore I have no reason to believe, or even care about, their arguments here.

    • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

      I lost my respect of Sierra Club, which I am once a member. The due process has been done many many times over. Those who insist to harass the approved project at this point are nothing but fervent fanatics.

  4. Posted by Pioneer

    These synthetic soccer fields sit on top of the aquifer SFPUC is pumping and blending into our drinking water. If the turf is toxic this could be a problem. I hate the lighting plan that will put a glow on the night skies on that end of the park and ocean beach until 10pm EVERY NIGHT. Goodbye stars. Goodbye moon.

    • Posted by S

      how is this any different from the fertilizers and chemicals that will be needed to maintain a living lawn? Not trying to be sarcastic, this is a legitimate question

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        … and oil and gas and tire rubber particulates, and generalized soot from airplanes, and airborne matter (about 30% of it from China) that rains out of the sky (… when it rains, anyway…)

    • Posted by g

      “I hate the lighting plan that will put a glow on the night skies on that end of the park and ocean beach until 10pm EVERY NIGHT. Goodbye stars. Goodbye moon.”

      Thanks for stating the actual reason for your opposition.

    • Posted by NJ

      And goodnight to the old lady whispering hush

  5. Posted by What?

    Did anyone else not see the 60 Minutes program about the toxic issues with these plastic fields and how they are being ripped out and replaced with natural grass in various parks and schools throughout the rest of the country? The 60 Minutes program presented numerous studies that raised serious concerns amongst many medical professionals and changed my mind about this issue.

  6. Posted by roberto

    The fields are nearing completion now and they look fantastic!
    Honestly, I have lost any remaining interest in supporting the Sierra Club.
    And to the “goodbye moon” comment, laughable. Let’s go out there once he lights are on and look up. One will always be able to see the moon despite the lights.

  7. Posted by Ohlone Californio

    These fields don’t pose health issues actually. And there’s no evidence that toxins leach from the rubber or plastic in its inert form. The grass fields, on the other hand, maimed many a man, woman, and child due to their gopher holes and inability to properly support grass.

    The area originally a sandy area. Grass will never, ever grow there properly without massive expenditure.

    The Sierra Club of San Francisco is a joke. The 60 Minutes piece was sensationalism. No point was made other than, “more studies are required.” Guess what? those studies happened. The inert forms of rubber crumb don’t bleed toxins. See name links. This is real scientific study from universities. Not some talking head on television responding to someone with money and an axe to grind.

  8. Posted by Mike

    Had to check the calendar to see if this was an April Fool’s joke. Agree with Sierrajeff – the local Sierra Club has no legitimacy. I quit the group years ago over their failure to support urban density.

  9. Posted by ostrich

    Regarding of how you feel about Sierra Club, it was a colossally stupid idea to rip up 10-acres of natural grass open space (and wildlife habitat) in order to pave it over and cover it was toxic tire crumbs. Toxic tire crumb astro-turf is being banned around the country. Workers were wearing hazmat suits and respirators during construction, and yet we then let kids breath it and get covered in the black dust. I’m confident that 20 years from now we’ll look back (like with tobacco et al) and wonder WTF we were thinking in subjecting children to this mess.

    • Posted by ph_goat

      Just curious- have you ever used those field? I have.

      The “10-acres of natural grass…” was human enabled by watering etc. Rather than a verdant field of lush, cushy ground cover, it was a mix of grass, weeds, patches of dirt and gopher holes which disguised itself as a bog in times of sky water. The new fields (located in a major city- with lots of gopher- ridden grass patches nearby) will get more use (no rainouts-ever) require less maintenance and generate more funds via field rentals. Do you have issues with the Crocker Amazon fields as well?

      I do hope they will make a focused effort at keeping the lighting glow to a minimum, but there are plenty of street lights in this city -so light pollution is already rampant around these parts.

      • Posted by Mike Kennedy

        I can pretty much guarantee he or she never used them. I played on those fields close to 40 years ago as a Grammer school soccer player. The fields were crap at that time. Played on them for close to 20 years and they were always crap. My kid who is now 17 played on them up to a couple of years ago and they were still crap. Crocker Park fields are phenomenonal and these fields will be the same. Let the old crying hippies complain about soemthing else.

    • Posted by frog

      Wildlife? It might be a park, but it’s in the middle of the city.

      There are probably 3.5 million square miles of agricultural land and nature in this country. Why do so many people move to a city and then want it to not be a city?

      • Posted by Tim Bracken

        @frog I do see your point, but this is no ordinary urban park. I’ve seen coyotes, owls, and hawks there.

        That being said, as long as there’s thoughtful planning, the park can coexist as both a home for wildlife and a place for human recreation.

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      no, it was a great idea. New York and LA acted prematurely in places, overreaching. The studies are in and the stuff is not toxic.

  10. Posted by jamesjr

    OMG. A gopher ridden, ankle-sprain inducing, muddy mess is preferable to new, safe, reliable fields (similar to thousands around the world). The Sierra Club has nothing better to do? Only in SF.

    • Posted by frog

      That’s because the Sierra club should be concerned with actual wilderness. We are in a city, which is the opposite of wilderness. San Francisco is the domain of urban planning.

      • Posted by Mark

        Too bad SF isn’t a poster child for sensible urban planning.

        The grass fields are always torn up and waterlogged. Good riddance to that and the Sierra Club.

  11. Posted by rinconmike

    I also was a Sierra Club member, but no more. I lost respect for them once they supported “no wall on the waterfront” non sense.

  12. Posted by MSTBLD

    The SF Sierra Club Chapter is not part of the national Sierra Club administration but locally run and dominated by a handful of OLD non-growth types. It is also manipulated by Aaron Peskin for his various stop the world issues.

  13. Posted by jenofla

    Still have my Sierra Club membership (it’s lifetime so kinda hard to ditch), but that doesn’t mean I support the local stances. It’s kind of like you can be a Democrat/Republican and vote accordingly in federal/state elections, but still think your local chapter is filled with idiots. On a national level, they still do good with true wilderness preservation, service trips, and outdoors education.

  14. Posted by DM

    As to CBS’s “60 Minutes” – as in Lara Logan, and more recently the Lumber Liquidators hit piece which was nothing but a prop to help a hedge fund manager cover his shorting of LL in an attempt to drive it into bankruptcy. Yes, that “60 Minutes”.

    • Posted by scott

      Forget 60 Minutes since you are now blaming the source, try the New York Times or Los Angeles Times which both featured lengthy and numerous articles about the cancer risks associated with artificial turf from dust associated with slow deterioration of the artificial field surface. Can anyone post a study to show why New York and Los Angeles are wrong for now removing artificial turf and returning their soccer fields to actual grass lawn? Why can’t we just demand a better maintained lawn surface instead?

  15. Posted by Michael E


  16. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    Courts need to be able to impose fines on [people] who waste their time with endless frivolous complaints.

  17. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    If the Sierra Club is concerned about this small patch of GG park leaching toxins then they should be a hundred times more concerned about all of the pavement within GG park used to move and store cars that leak all sorts of toxins into the soil. I used to respect the Sierra Club but the SF chapter is drifting far from the original charter.

  18. Posted by HealthScience

    Wow. this is insane! Just about everything in tires is toxic to people . Tires were never meant to be pulverized and put under children’s feet to play on! There are cancer clusters cropping up in children, now young adults who grew up playing sports on synturf. Even if you are OK with a plastic rug on rocks (which often contains lead and other plastic related toxins in addition to having to be landfilled every 8 years) there are plant based infills at least instead of tire crumb. Why are you all so eager to throw the kids on hot, unsanitary (no soil and grass organisms to break down blood, sweat, animal feces and bird droppings!)

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