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LOCAL APPEALS:  SF Ocean Edge Files Appeals -- City refuses to protect Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach.  September 12, 2012

Despite expressing worries about a new study that provides evidence of hazardous chemicals in recycled tires, and despite the concern of the Center for Environmental Health on this use, on September 12, 2013 the Board of appeals denied the appellants  a rehearing on the Beach Chalet Local Coastal Zone Permit.

San Francisco's Local Coastal Program states that all development in the coastal zone must emphasize Golden Gate Park's "naturalistic landscape qualities."  Removing over 7 acres of lawn and replacing it with over 7 acres of artificial turf, installing 150,000 watts of sports lighting on 60 foot poles in addition to 60 more parking and other lights, cutting down over 55 trees, increasing a parking lot by 33%, paving additional parkland, and installing seating for over 1,000 visitors -- in an area that is now lawn, trees, and a single fence -- does not protect the naturalistic qualities of Golden Gate Park.  In fact, during the hearing, one speaker described the project as "an act of vandalism" in Golden Gate Park. 

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SF Board of Appeals ignores San Francisco Local Coastal Program Requirements  

San Francisco  On Wednesday, August 1, 2012the SF Board of Appeals heard our appeals of the Local Coastal Zone Permit.  The BOA ignored the San Francisco Local Coastal Program requirements and turned down our appeal. 

Joining SF Ocean Edge in the Appeal were the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Golden Gate Audubon Society, and the Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance.       

Background for the past appeals:  On May 24, 2012, the San Francisco Planning Commission voted to approve the Local Coastal Zone Permit.  The  SF Recreation and Park Commission then approved the project.  This was despite testimony from many organizations and individuals who disagreed with the placement of this project within the Local Coastal Zone, as well as the Planning Department’s acknowledgment that it had received over 1,000 emails, the majority of which opposed the project.

The Appeal  Brooke O'Hanleyan associate at the environmental law firm Lozeau - Drury LLP, represented SF Ocean Edge in the BOA Appeal.   Before she entered the law profession, O'Hanley played professional soccer for the Women's United Soccer Association.   O'Hanley's legal and environmental background includes completing her BA at the University of Portland  and then going on to obtain a Masters in Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara and a J.D. at the University of Maryland School of Law.   She has interned at the US Environmental Protection Agency and worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Department of Veteran Affairs.   According to O'Hanley, “I am so thankful for the Environmental Ethics and Policy program at the University of Portland.  UP's Environmental Science Department - with its idealistic and passionate faculty - helped to install in me that I have a moral obligation to try and protect our fragile earth.   This program propelled me into a lifelong commitment to environmental protection."

Impacts on the Local Coastal Zone  The proposed soccer complex project would destroy one of the few open grasslands in Golden Gate Park by removing over seven acres of natural grass and replacing it with artificial turf in a area that is located in the tsunami zone . The complex would also  install over 150,000 watts of sports lighting on 60 foot poles, that would be lighted from dusk until 10:00 p.m. every night of the year.  The poles are much taller than the trees that separate the fields from the Great Highway and the beach.  Bright  lights disrupt the natural environment and affect migratory birds and other wildlife, as well as detracting from the natural beauty of the area.  Located right next to Ocean Beach,  the banks of lights would ruin the beauty of Ocean Beach for strollers at sunset, for people enjoying the fire rings in the dark, and the Dark Sky for families studying the night sky.  Even during the day, the light poles and banks of sports lights will be visible from the Great Highway Promenade as well as from Ocean Beach, detracting from the naturalistic beauty of Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park.

The value of Ocean Beach   Ocean Beach, located immediately adjacent to the project site, is an important coastal resource,  visited each year by thousands of San Franciscans and tourists alike.  Amy Meyer, former Recreation and Park Commissioner, co-chair of the citizen panel for the just-finished Ocean Beach Master Plan (SPUIR 2012), and an activist on behalf of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for 42 years, says,  , "I care very much about the impact of the Beach Chalet Athletic Fields project, because both federal and city park lands would be severely detrimentally affected. I am concerned about the negative impacts of installing sports lighting next to Ocean Beach and placing an artificial turf surface in Golden Gate Park... . . Increasing the amount of 'dark sky' available to the public is a national park goal, not only in San Francisco but throughout the National Park System.  Keeping the skies as dark as possible at the western end of our city is our contribution to this goal.  Reasons include natural habitat for birds and wildlife, and preservation of opportunities for astronomical observation."

Win-win solution - the Hybrid Alternative  SF Ocean Edge proposes a feasible win-win solution - the Hybrid Alternative.  The more urbanized West Sunset Playground fields are scheduled for a renovation with natural grass. The  Hybrid Alternative would simply swap field renovation methods.  It would renovate the fields at West Sunset with artificial turf that is safe and with appropriate lighting, and renovate the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields with real grass and no lights.  Katherine Howard, a landscape architect and member of the SFOE Steering Committee says, "We support youth soccer. Switching the proposed Beach Chalet artificial turf fields and sports lights project with West Sunset's natural grass renovation gives children renovated playing fields and protects the beauty and naturalistic qualities of Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park for children today and for future generations to enjoy.  The Hybrid Alternative is a win-win solution for everyone." 

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See also:  www.goldengateparkpreservation.org for information on other GGP issues

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