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Coastal Commission Takes Up Beach Chalet Fields Plan

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Tom Prete/Ocean Beach Bulletin

A notice hangs on the fence around Golden Gate Park's Beach Chalet soccer fields informing the public that the California Coastal Commission is considering a permit for San Francisco's plan to put in artificial turf, lighting and other changes.

The California Coastal Commission is discussing San Francisco’s plan to install artificial turf, fencing and field lights at Golden Gate Park’s Beach Chalet soccer fields.

A staff report prepared for commissioners suggests they take a hard line against much of what the City has proposed for the site.

The $14 million plan would replace the fields’ existing grass play surface with artificial turf, and bring in lighting and spectator seating, all with the aim of reducing the amount of maintenance required and increasing the number of hours the fields can be used for active play.

The City already has approved the renovation project, but opponents in October sued to block it. They also appealed to the Coastal Commission, a state body that has jurisdiction over much coastal development.

Advocates of renovating the soccer fields have said that the plan will allow more people to play while saving money on maintenance. The fields, like many grass playing fields in the city, are often partly or completely closed to allow them to recover from the wear and tear that come with hard use.

“The kids of San Francisco deserve a safe athletic field to play on,” Patrick Hannan of the City Fields Foundation told the San Francisco Examiner. The City Fields Foundation has helped pay for similar renovations of fields throughout San Francisco.

Opponents, however, say that the plan completely and inappropriately changes the way the area would be used. Banks of lights to allow nighttime play would confuse birds migrating along the coast and diminish the number of stars visible nearby, they say, and some worry about whether the plastic and rubber playing surfaces might contain harmful chemicals.

“San Francisco’s own Local Coastal Plan requires that development ‘emphasize the naturalistic landscape qualities of the western end of the park,’” opponents wrote in an Examiner opinion article.

A Coastal Commission staff report prepared in advance of today's meeting recommends that commissioners decide the proposal falls within the commission's jurisdiction and block a number of key aspects of the planned renovation. Among other recommendations, it suggests that artificial turf should be dropped from the plan altogether and even asks the commission to require that fences already on the site be removed and replaced with lower ones.

Read the California Coastal Commission staff report on the Beach Chalet soccer fields plan:

California Coastal Commission staff report on Golden Gate Park Beach Chalet soccer fields_A-2-SNF-12-020 (B…

Source: Ocean Beach Bulletin [http://oceanbeachbulletin.com/2013/05/09/coastal-commission-to-take-up-beach-chalet-soccer-plan/]

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