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AUGUST 13, 2013                                                                      


Arthur Feinstein, Chair, Sierra Club, SF Bay Chapter: (415) 680-0643

                      Jean Barish: (415)752-0185  childrensoutdoorplay@gmail.com




New York and Los Angeles do not use Artificial Turf with Rubber Tire Crumb

           San Francisco Tomorrow recently filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the Sierra Club and other parties in the lawsuit opposing the San Francisco’s approval of the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields Project.  San Francisco Tomorrow is an environmental organization dedicated to promoting environmental quality, neighborhood livability and good government in San Francisco.  The City has insisted that the proposed fields are safe, citing New York and Los Angeles as examples of cities that use artificial turf with rubber tire crumb.  This is incorrect.  According to the San Francisco Tomorrow brief, the New York Parks and Recreation Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District do not allow the construction of artificial turf fields with rubber tire crumb infill.  The brief also highlights that the project is inconsistent with San Francisco’s General Plan and Golden Gate Park Master Plan.  "We rely on these publicly reviewed plans to guide and inform decision-makers" said Jennifer Clary, president of SF Tomorrow. "It's incredibly frustrating when they are ignored in order to advance special interests in the City."

SF Recreation and Parks Department Improperly Destroyed Documents

           Project opponents have also learned that San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department has a document retention policy that allows the destruction of certain governmental documents.   Project opponents maintain this document destruction policy violates the law, and are seeking a writ of mandate requiring the City to rewrite this policy to comply with government requirements. City staff members, including Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Phil Ginsberg, and Sarah Ballard, the City’s spokesperson for the Beach Chalet, have destroyed or failed to retain numerous emails related to the project.  At a recent meeting of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, one Commissioner called this a huge problem which Rec and Park would have to rectify. 

Trial Scheduled for August 16, 2013

           The trial for the case is scheduled for August 16, 2013 at 9:45 a.m., before Judge Teri L. Jackson, Superior Court of California, San Francisco.   The  case of Sierra Club et. al. v. City and County of San Francisco et. al. , filed on October 12, 2012, challenges the City and County of San Francisco’s approval of the Environmental Impact Report for the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields Project in Golden Gate Park.  The project will install over seven acres of artificial turf athletic fields cushioned with ground up rubber tires, known as rubber tire crumb infill.  The project will also add 150,000 kilowatts of night lighting to this area of Golden Gate Park, remove many trees, and add concrete seating, roadways and new parking.  City Fields Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2006 by Robert, Bill, and John Fisher, sons of Donald Fisher, of the Gap, Inc., to fund artificial turf fields throughout San Francisco, is a defendant-intervenor in the case.

            The lawsuit, brought under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), asserts that the Environmental Impact Report for the project is inadequate for several reasons, including: -  failure to disclose the significant impact and health risks of the many toxins found in the styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) tire crumb infill used in the artificial turf in the proposed soccer fields, including heavy metals such as lead and zinc; benzene; formaldehyde; and carbon black;  failure to consider safe alternatives to toxic SBR infill, and; failure to consider a  win-win “hybrid alternative” which would relocate artificial turf fields with safe infill to a more suitable location.         

           The suit is asking the court to order the City to immediately stop the Project and vacate the Project approvals granted by the City until a legally adequate EIR is prepared by the City and approved in compliance with all CEQA requirements.  Mary Anne Miller, a plaintiff in the case, summed it up by saying:  "We are looking forward to a successful outcome in this case. Toxic turf should not be used anywhere, and the quiet end of Golden Gate Park right at the beach is the wrong place for this high intensity development.  ”

  The project opponents are represented by the law firm of LozeauDrury, LLP; The Law Office of Vernon C. Grigg, III; and Michael Molland, Esq.   Richard T. Drury, Esq. of LozeauDrury is the lead attorney.

 Project Opponents are from Around the World  

           Thousands of San Franciscans have signed petitions opposing the project, and project opponents have heard from supporters from as far away as Turkey, where a recent Facebook post showed protestors in Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul wearing buttons that say Save Golden Gate Park.  And after much delay project opponents have also received from the City copies of thousands of letters that were sent to the Board of Supervisors urging them not to approve the project.  These letters came from concerned parents whose children play soccer, scientists who pointed out the toxic nature of the turf,  residents who are concerned about the environmental impact of the bright night sports lights, and many others who are opposed to the construction of a massive sports complex in the Park.  But despite the overwhelming opposition, the project  was approved by the Supervisors, prompting this lawsuit   Arthur Feinstein, chair of the Sierra Club SFBay Chapter says, "It is incredible to us that the City approved the Beach Chalet Project, disregarding Golden Gate Park's Master Plan and admitting in its EIR that the Project will significantly harm the Park. The City should not so lightly disfigure a park that is an integral part of San Francisco."

 Additional information can be found at:  http://takebackourparks.org/documents/sierra%20club%20joins

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