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SF Examiner,  "Soccer foes sling mud at board meeting," Melissa Griffin, July 2012.   Click on the link below and scroll down to read article.

Griffin reads from the RPD playbook. . . .click here to view the original opinion piece.

There was so much misinformation at the BOS Appeal Hearing, that after we left the meeting, we were determined to counter it.  Sadly, Ms. Griffin has accepted unquestioningly the script handed her by Rec and Park (RPD).  There were no calls made to SF Ocean Edge to verify any of the statements in her article.  

Therefore, we all have to rise up  -- defend the Park and defend all of you who have given of your time and commitment to protecting Golden Gate Park.

As you read this, remember the quote attributed to Ghandi:  "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you  -- then you win."  

Here are the facts regarding statements made in Griffin's article:

Beach Chalet fields are "less than 1 percent of Golden Gate Park."  

This is language used in all RPD PR  to minimize the value of the Beach Chalet area. Actually, the Beach Chalet fields are one of only a few, large, open grass areas in Golden Gate Park.  They are vital habitat, and they are right next to Ocean Beach.  And GGP has lots of buildings, roads, construction yards, etc.  Does anyone really think that we have so much open space that we can afford to pave it over with artificial turf, and especially in this location?

Photo caption:  "Bad Sportsmanship.  An effort to make the Beach Chalet Fields safe has unleashed a vocal outcry."  

The above statement ignores the facts and implies that we do not want safe fields.  That is wrong; SF Ocean Edge has always supported soccer for kids.  

The caption should be:  "Rec and Park locks kids out for two years by stubbornly sticking to a bad plan."

1.  SF Ocean Edge wants to renovate the Beach Chalet fields and make them a safe playing surface.  We have always proposed fixing up the fields with a new sub-surface drainage system, better soil mix,  state of the art irrigation, gopher controls, and new sod.  We have tried to do this for over 2 years, but RPD has blocked those efforts by insisting on an over-priced, environmentally-damaging project. If RPD had listened to us two years ago, the $1 million spent on the EIR could have been used to fix up these fields, and kids would be playing on new fields today.  

2.  SF Ocean Edge has a Hybrid Alternative that will provide more hours of play at West Sunset than now and also fix up the Beach Chalet fields, making BOTH fields safer to play on.  In other words, we are proposing a better idea than the current proposed project.

"Supervisor Eric Mar pushed for a full environmental impact report." 
 
There is no public record of this.  Supervisor Mar has done nothing that we know of to fight this project or to work for the Hybrid Alternative.  In fact, it is clear that he supports the project.  

Here is the real story on how we forced the City to do the Environmental Impact Report:

The Golden Gate Audubon Society (which everyone reading this should join) pushed for months to try to find out the environmental status of this project.  They were unable to obtain the file from the Planning Department.   In December, 2009, at one of the few public meetings, an RPD employee let slip that there was an environmental exemption from Planning about the project.   That meant that the Planning Department had decided that ripping out over  9  acres of grass and adding 250,000 (the numbers at the time) watts of light and 60 more pole lights and 33% more paving for parking and seating for over 1,000 people was not going to have an impact on Golden Gate Park!

Audubon filed an appeal of the Categorical Exemption on January 12, 2010.  Oops!  The Planning Department pulled the Categorical Exemption and said that they would do another environmental study.
 
Three months later, the Planning Department spent more money and produced more paper and came up with  the same result. A Categorical Exemption - meaning they found no environmental problems with paving over 7 acres of  Golden Gate Park and lighting it with bright sports lights.  (It is now 7 acres, because the project was changed from 6 to 4 fields.)

During those  months, SF Ocean Edge brought letters from over 25 organizations IN PERSON to the Rec and Park Commission asking for an EIR -- letters from neighborhood groups, environmental groups, animal rights groups, and historic preservation groups - local and national.  We also delivered these letters and requests IN PERSON to Supervisor Mar's office.  The Rec and Park Commission listened and did nothing.  Neither did Supervisor Mar.

April 15, 2010 - Rec and Park Commission hearing on the Beach Chalet.  You remember - many of you were there.  So were the soccer players.  After all, they had been told it was Beach Chalet or nothing.  Of course, they wanted the project.

Who was not there?  Supervisor  Mar.  He did not come and defend the Park.  He did not testify and say, "Hey guys, you need an EIR." 
 
The Rec and Park Commission approved the project unanimously on April 15, 2010.  Supervisor Mar did not object.  We received no call from his office, telling us he was going to go over to McLaren Lodge and tell RPD that this was Golden Gate Park and it should be respected.

So why is there an EIR?

There is an EIR because SF Ocean Edge and 14 other community and environmental groups filed an Appeal to the Board of Supervisors on April 27, 2010.  On April 30th, THREE DAYS LATER, the Rec and Park Department issued a statement saying that "they" had decided to do an EIR.  They didn't mention Supervisor Mar, either. 

What role did Supervisor Mar play in the July 10th BOS Appeal Hearing?


Supervisor Mar led the attack on Golden Gate Park by making the motion during the hearing to approve the EIR.  He argued strongly in favor of the EIR and against the Hybrid Alternative.  He made no effort to protect Golden Gate Park.

His only gesture was to ask Rec and Park if, after the project was installed 6 months, Rec and Park would meet with the neighbors to discuss modifying the lighting hours.   Is Rec and Park actually going to listen to anyone about the lights? After ignoring every major neighborhood group west of Twin Peaks, two major environmental groups, every major historic preservation group, and over 1,000 emails opposing the project?  They haven't listened for over 2 years -- why would they start now?  

However, Supervisor Mar's statement gave some of the Supervisors cover to approve the project.  He ignored the excellent technical arguments put forth by our attorney, Richard Drury.  Mar was, by far, the most aggressive Supervisor in the hearing to push forward the denial of our Appeal and, therefore, he is in support of the project.

Griffin also stated:  "Apparently, the conversion of a nearby abandoned water treatment plant in the park into a garbage dump is a less interesting cause than saving sacred soccer fields from being turned into … soccer fields"

Ms. Griffin is years behind on this issue.  The sewage treatment plant was moved out of the Golden Gate Park years ago and the area turned into a dump by Rec and Park.  What a waste of parkland!  But that is not the worst of it.  A few years ago, the SFPUC with RPD's blessing was going to build a water treatment factory in that location.    Where was Griffin when you were all fighting the proposed water treatment factory
?   All of you were out in the public, talking to the Mayor, the SFPUC, and the BOS, asking that the 40,000 square foot factory NOT be built in Golden Gate Park.  

SF Ocean Edge and our sister group, the Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance, have been asking that the old sewage treatment site be renovated and turned into more parkland.  The SFPUC has listened and decided not to build the factory in Golden Gate Park. Rec and Park never made a move to stop this industrial development project; in fact, they supported it.  Maybe you can tell Griffith that -- and that she can learn more about this here:

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Save Golden Gate Park (c)  and  SF Ocean Edge (c) 2090, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014  K. Howard