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CCC Staff Report
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Coastal Commission Staff Report

Click here to download the CCC Staff Report (pdf).

FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO THE REPORT (emphasis in bold added):

Staff recommends that the Commission find that the appeals raise substantial LCP conformance issues and that the Commission take jurisdiction over the CDP application. Staff further recommends that the Commission approve a CDP for a modified renovation project to address LCP requirements for the site.

The LCP requires that development “emphasize the naturalistic landscape qualities of the western end of the park for visitor use”.  LCP certification documents indicate that the intent and goal of the LCP was to ensure protection of the unique pastoral landscape character of the Park.   The City-approved project will modify the existing Beach Chalet fields area in a way that will alter its naturalistic character, including through the introduction of project elements that would significantly change its spatial organization and setting (e.g., artificial turf, field lights, seating areas, fending, concrete paths, etc.).   The City found that the project would cause significant and unavoidable adverse impacts to the fields area in this respect, including in light of Golden Gate Park’s significant historic status (i.e., it is on the National and California Registers of Historic Places as a historic district), but approved the project via a statement of overriding considerations.

There are likely many different alternative project variations that could address the LCP policy to emphasize naturalistic landscape qualities, but it is clear that any proposal that seeks to renovate the Beach Chalet athletic fields facility consistent with the LCP must emphasize the naturalistic pastoral landscape, including by keeping hardscape and engineered elements to a minimum and making sure they are subordinate to the pastoral landscape character.   Within this context, there are a range of potential project elements that may be appropriate to meet City objectives of increasing the field’s recreational usage while also meeting LCP requirements that protect the naturalistic landscape.   It is within this context (i.e., whether a proposed element increases recreational access and whether it emphasizes the field’s pastoral, non-structured landscape qualities) that project alternatives must be analyzed.   Fundamentally, project elements that break up the overall grassy area are problematic in this respect (such as the proposed 30-foot wide linear concrete area with seating that would bisect the fields entirely), as are significant project elements that significantly frame the field areas in a linear and/or regular fashion (e.g., perimeter fencing).   Other project elements that introduce significant hardscape and ‘engineered’ elements also take away from the naturalistic character of the area.   For other project elements, however, there is some judgment involved as to what tips the scales to not appropriately emphasizing the naturalistic landscape qualities of the site.   For example, some field lighting that doesn't break up the overall grassy area and some linear form seating areas that are integrated into landscape areas could be consistent with that LCP policy.

To bring the project into conformance with the LCP, staff recommends that the Commission approve a revised project that addresses the naturalistic setting and character of the Park and that would include:

 Redoing the natural turf fields with natural grass (including with enhanced foundation and drainage) and maximizing revegetation efforts with an eye towards emphasizing naturalistic spatial organization for the fields area (e.g., curvilinear as opposed to linear)

 Eliminating and/or reducing field lighting (and limiting lighting otherwise to that necessary for public safety)

 Modifying fencing (including because existing fencing which has altered the character of the site is currently unpermitted)

 Modifying seating to be informal bench seating (e.g., intermittent benches) and/or more limited linear seating forms integrated with perimeter paths and landscaping

 Modifying paths to be decomposed granite or equivalent as opposed to concrete

 Providing enhanced signage and path connections between the fields and Ocean Beach, as well as interpretive signing

Such a project would be a significant improvement to the Beach Chalet fields area that would both enhance its pastoral naturalistic character and its utility for recreation consistent with the LCP.    
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