Highlights from the Richmond District Mayoral Debate

Last night, the Planning Association for the Richmond hosted a debate at the Richmond Rec Center, featuring a large field of candidates in the race for San Francisco Mayor. The format of the debate included four questions that were pertinent to the Richmond District neighborhood, addressing issues like empty storefronts, public transit on Geary Boulevard and proposed projects in Golden Gate Park.

Each candidate was given 1-2 minutes to respond to each question. With 13 of them in attendance, it took awhile to get through each question, but the crowd was patient and attentive, even in spite of no microphone for the first 45 minutes of the event.

Candidates that attended the debate included City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, State Senator Leland Yee, Supervisor John Avalos, Supervisor David Chiu, Assessor Phil Ting, Joanna Rees, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Cesar Ascarrunz, Paul Currier, former Supervisor Tony Hall, Wilma Pang, and Terry Joan Baum.

The candidates not in attendance were current Mayor Ed Lee, former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, and Emil Lawrence.

While Senator Leland Yee did finally confirm his attendance on Monday morning, he was the first candidate to leave the debate, lasting only through the intros and first question. Dennis Herrera also slipped out early after answering the third question.

(L to R) Candidates Jeff Adachi, Cesar Ascarrunz, John Avalos, Terry Baum, David Chiu, and Paul Currier

Before launching into the questions, each candidate was given a couple of minutes to introduce themselves. If the debate ended there, Wilma Pang would have run away with it – she began her speech singing Chinese opera. Dennis Herrera called the election “the most important race we’ve had in 20 years”, while Terry Baum introduced herself as a “pioneering lesbian playwright”. Cesar Ascarrunz informed us it was his third time running for Mayor, Phil Ting said it was time to “reset San Francisco”, and candidate Paul Currier closed his remarks by saying “Ed Lee said he wasn’t going to run for Mayor.”

Ah, you gotta love San Francisco elections.

Public transit on the Geary Corridor
Candidates were asked to weigh in on the proposed Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, a subject of much debate among Richmond District residents. The project is designed to speed up buses and make service more reliable and comfortable along Geary Boulevard, as well as improve pedestrian conditions along the busy corridor with new medians, safer crossings, landscaping and countdown signals.

But the Geary BRT is dismissed by opponents as being too expensive, too disruptive to residents and businesses, and unrealistic in its goals. On the other hand, proponents believe that Geary Boulevard can become the “Great Street” it was always meant to be, and that bus riders will benefit from the service improvements and merchants from the increased ridership into the Richmond District.

Among the candidates, all of them agreed that either BRT or something like it was needed to improve MUNI service along Geary. Several candidates argued that we shouldn’t wait for the BRT project (which wouldn’t roll out to 2015), but that we should look at ways to make the transit corridor more effective now. Bevan Dufty said he plans to be “a bus yard mayor” and said the city should focus on improving on other MUNI issues before BRT such as fare evasion and drivers not showing up for work.

Joanna Rees, who frequently rides MUNI herself, told the crowd “we need to embrace our entrepreneurial spirit and apply it to our transportation.” David Chiu, the only candidate who does not own a car, proudly held up his Clipper Card while he answered. Like other candidates he pointed out simple changes that could help improve MUNI efficiency now, like letting riders in the back door as well as the front. He even fantasized that with the BRT in place, “someday we can get taxis in the Richmond”.

(L to R) Candidates Terry Baum, David Chiu, Paul Currier, Bevan Dufty, and Tony Hall

Only candidate Jeff Adachi said something different from the rest about his plan for improving transit out to the Richmond. “I favor having MUNI light rail extended as far west as possible,” Adachi said.

Some of the more humorous responses came from the lesser known candidates like Cesar Ascarrunz, who took a moment to remind the crowd, as he did several times during the night, “I don’t have nothing to lose.” Well, except maybe the debate?

Even more mind-boggling was a comment from Paul Currier who started out his answer with some musings about riding MUNI, including this gem: “I like taking the #1 bus because the clientele’s a little better.” Um, ok.

Candidate Terry Baum took her first chance to throw in one of her campaign taglines, “Tax the rich, DUH”, referring to how to get funds for transit improvements.

Economic growth in the Richmond District
Anyone living in the neighborhood for the past couple of years can see we’ve had a marked increase in the number of empty storefronts in our commercial corridors along Clement, Geary and Balboa. So much so that the Richmond District has the highest vacancy rates for commercial properties in the city. Candidates were asked, “As Mayor, how would you plan to bring new business and drive economic growth in the Richmond District?”

Most of the candidates’ answers revolved around the highly challenging landscape that small business owners must navigate to not only start their business in the city, but to keep it going. Chiu pointed out that there are 15 different departments in the city that regulate and monitor small businesses. Rees talked about meeting Richmond District merchants who complained about the mountains of paperwork, licenses and permits required to run their businesses, on top of the costly fees that accompany them.

Tony Hall suggested addressing the burden that payroll taxes place on local businesses. “I support the elimination of payroll tax throughout the city, not just through the mid-market area for a couple of chosen companies,” Hall said, making reference to the tax breaks that Twitter and a few other companies will receive when they move their headquarters into the mid-Market area.

(L to R) Candidates Dennis Herrera, Joanna Rees, Wilma Pang, and Phil Ting

Dennis Herrera feels that the high cost of parking meters in the Richmond District has contributed to the downslide, stating, “There are certain corridors that are disproportionately affected by parking meters. Rates are too high here.” Herrera added that shoppers are less likely to come to the Richmond District if parking costs several dollars per hour.

Wilma Pang got the prize for most creative suggestion for addressing the vacant businesses. A proponent of the arts, Pang suggested we “give artists a chance to occupy the empty storefronts” and offered to help those who ran into issues with authorities. “If you get kicked out by the cops, I’ll talk to them,” Pang promised.

Veterans Affair Medical Center (VAMC)
The VAMC, located at 43rd and Clement, is in a constant state of expansion as it grows its facilities, and residents are concerned about a lack of master plan and oversight. Hundreds of VAMC employees park in the neighboring Richmond District streets due to a lack of on-site parking at the complex. And despite a court-ordered mandate that the VAMC develop a master plan in conjunction with neighborhood groups before more capital improvements can be made, construction has continued.

Candidates were asked, “What would you do if elected Mayor to ensure that this runaway, undefined building scheme is appropriate for San Francisco’s infrastructure, neighborhoods and parks?”

No one candidate had anything too exciting to say on this topic since the VAMC is technically a federal facility and project. Some spoke of working more closely with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to better understand the issues and address city concerns about the VAMC’s plans. Several candidates promised to continue to listen to residents and to work with all parties involved to find a solution.

Projects in Golden Gate Park
Two major projects are currently undergoing environmental reviews in Golden Gate Park. The first is a water treatment plant in the southwest corner of the park. The second is a proposal to replace the Beach Chalet soccer fields with artificial turf and lighting, enabling the fields to be used year round and for more hours.

Even before tonight’s debate began, there were rumblings in the media about an email that went out to soccer enthusiasts across the Bay, encouraging them to attend the debate to show their support for the Beach Chalet project.

While the crowd at the debate was healthy in size, it was definitely not filled with soccer-shirt-wearing gangs out to rally their cause. Ironically the only one in a soccer jersey, a bright coral one no less, was candidate Joanna Rees. She explained that it was her daughter’s jersey and though all her children grew up playing soccer in the city, she is against the artificial turf fields because she “wants to listen to the neighbors that don’t want it.”

Candidate Joanna Rees wore her daughter’s soccer jersey to the debate

David Chiu was neither for or against either project, but said that he had “healthy skepticism” for both of the Golden Gate Park proposals. “I got to play on real grass, in real light,” Chiu said about his youth soccer experience (not in San Francisco). “Let’s make sure Rec & Park is funded from general sources,” he said.

The only candidate in favor of the artificial turf fields project was Bevan Dufty who said “I’ve seen these fields transform Garfield Park,” referring to one of the first fields that was changed over to artificial turf. Dufty went further to say that he believes a parcel tax is needed to make sure that Rec & Park is fully funded, telling opponents of the Beach Chalet project to “pony up and stand up and support a parcel tax, or step aside and let’s have fields that kids and young adults can play on.”

In another puzzling response, candidate Paul Currier loudly proclaimed “If kids want to play on plastic grass, they can go to Treasure Island.” Tony Hall pointed out a bit later that there are no artificial turf fields on Treasure Island, but stated he was against them anyway.

Candidate Wilma Pang started her response more succinctly, stating “The two ideas are not so great, they SUCK.” Terry Baum, the green party-endorsed candidate in the race, called the proposed artificial turf soccer fields “an idiotic decision,” and a poor response to a shortage of Rec & Park gardeners to properly care for the existing fields.

Cesar Ascarrunz opposed the fields due to his own soccer experience. “I was a professional soccer player. I hate artificial turf.”

Much of the time was spent addressing the soccer field project, but most candidates went on record to say there were opposed to the water treatment plant, citing concerns about an industrial facility, and one under Homeland Security’s domain, being placed in Golden Gate park.

After answering the questions, each remaining candidate was given a minute or so to make a concluding statement. Several of the candidates took the time to remind the audience that San Francisco offers a rank choice voting system where you can choose up to 3 candidates on the ballot, instead of just one. Ascarrunz used the closing remarks to hammer home his do or die attitude, stating “I don’t have nothing to lose. My house is paid for.”

Jeff Adachi began his closing remark with a dig at current Mayor Ed Lee who failed to attend the debate. “As Mayor, I would show up!” Adachi promised.

The election is coming up on November 8. If you’re not yet registered, click here to get all the info.

Were you at the debates last night? What did you think of the event and the candidates? Leave a comment to let us know.

Sarah B.

A few stood on the floor with signs opposing the projects in Golden Gate Park


  1. I was at the forum last night and I really appreciate candidates coming out to the Richmond District. For me one candidate has really stands out and that is John Avalos.

    I appreciated his talking about the similarities between our neighborhood and his neighborhood when talking about economic development. His open door policy during budget time was a huge step in City Hall making anyone who wanted to speak feel heard and his solutions for a more transparent government that gives all San Franciscans a place at the table is the most welcoming and viable. The actions he’s taken as D11 Supervisor to revitalize Ocean Avenue with art walks and family dinner nights as well as standing up for working to middle class families facing foreclosure in his district speak volumes. His family is also a working family, he was a social worker, his wife is also a public school teacher, and his kids are both in public school.

    Every time I’ve had the opportunity to speak to John, I’ve felt heard and he’s validated every issue that I have presented with a solid and workable solution. He’s genuine and to me he’s the real deal. It’s is why I chose to work on his campaign and it’s been awesome to walk with him down our merchant corridor and see so many small business owners be so receptive to him and his ideas.

    It’s time that we elect a Mayor who not only gets that we have a serious issue in this with neighborhood equity but who also experiences it first hand and will therefore help revitalize our communities instead of pandering to downtown interests and large corporations.

  2. Outstanding reporting, as always, Sarah! Thanks for filling us in for those who could not attend.

  3. Almost all of the candidates were against the artificial turf field? Were they just trying to gain points with Richmond residents? If they think that locals oppose the fields, they are mistaken.

    Adachi – Hall (or Rees) – Lee

  4. Sarah,

    Thanks for this thorough report: PAR will soon be posting a summary of the candidates responses. FWIW, I had Rees as the only clear “no” on BRT. On the PAR website, I believe you will find a link to the reasons for no on BRT, and if you’d like I can provide a more expansive list of reasons why BRT is an abysmal concept.



  5. Thank you Sarah for your excellent coverage of the event. One small correction: Herrera didn’t slip out before the third question, which addressed overdevelopment at the VAMC, and he seemed to be the only candidate familiar with the issues and the court settlement agreement between the VA and PAR.

  6. Thanks for the great reporting, Sarah! I found the debate useful, although it could have been much, much better if only the most viable candidates were invited and there weren’t so many tangents. Nick did a good job at trying to manage and moderate, but there’s only so much he can do. I don’t necessarily agree with every single issue opinion, but my #1 and #2, respectively, at this point are Leland Yee and Joanna Rees. For #3 I’m vacillating between David Chui and Ed Lee. In my opinion, the last thing we need is someone who is strongly attached to the backward idea of a city divided between “moderates” and “progressives.” I prefer to vote for people who recognize that we’re all on the same team with similar goals.

    Also, you list Leland Yee above as “Representative.” He is actually “Senator” Leland Yee.

  7. Sarah, excellent coverage of debate as well as observations of candidates participation and interest in concerns of the Richmond district. There was a high turnout and, unfortunately, we ran out of chairs. The debate was co-sponsored by PAR in partnership with the Richmond Reform Democratic Club, Chinese American Voters Education Commission (COVEC), Greater Geary Street Merchants, Clement Merchants, The Coalition to Save Ocean Beach/Friends of Sutro park, and Media Sponsor: New American Media.
    It was gratifying that the attendees included so many students of David Lee of COVEC, who were there to observe democracy at work.

    Thanks to Amy’s comment above that it is high time we work together on issues and drop the devisive labeling of “progressives” and “moderates.”

    Margie Hom-Brown

  8. Thank you for your excellent coverage of this important event — not just today but all along.

    I would like to remind everyone who has concerns about Outiside Lands and the increasing number of major events being held in the Speedway Meadows/Lindley Meadows/Polo Fields area of the park to PLEASE attend the meeting this evening with Rec&Park. Residents of the Richmond district have been requesting this meeting for FOUR YEARS — and if people do not turn up to talk about it, Rec&Park will use it as a way to say that we do not care, it’s fine with us and there are no problems.

    TIME: 7 p.m. TONIGHT
    461 6th Avenue (betw Geary & Anza)
    The community room is behind the police station — walk across the parking lot to the building on the far side and through the front doors.

  9. Dear SF Bear:

    Your statement “if you think the locals oppose the fields, they are mistaken” IS mistaken.

    I have lived in the Richmond district since 1979 andGolden Gate Park is my beloved back yard. I LOVE the park like a child and I run from 20th Avenue to Ocean Beach at least twice a week. I LOVE GG Park — and I also happen to LOVE soccer and absolutely want to encourage and support soccer in my city.

    The City has an existing general plan for GG Park. It also has a “night sky” ordinance. These exist so that our beautiful Park and our beautiful neighborhood will be protected from exactly the kind of rape that is now being proposed. They do NOT exist so that they can be totally ignored whenever they are relevant.

    I am most definitely a local and I could NOT be more opposed to the plan to put SIXTY FOOT lights and artificial turf in GG Park. Over my dead body!

    The candidates last night committed out-loud, in public to no artificual turf, no 60-ft “stadium” lights, and no water treatment plant in GG Park.

    Now, we all need to make sure that none of them try to renege on those statement.

    But I

  10. You can endorse a candidate for SF Mayor at http://www.votizen.com.

    Votizen is an online network of real voters who have expressed their commitment to be engaged citizens. A free service, Votizen allows its members — Votizens — to claim their voter profile, learn about issues and elections, and take collective action with other committed voters through social media. Backed by the original investors in Facebook and Twitter, Votizen is an independent company and is not affiliated with any political party, candidate or special interest group.

  11. I agree with SFBear about the candidates pandering to the people opposed to the artificial turf field. I’m excited about the project and can’t wait for the fields to be installed.

    The opponents documents about Beach Chalet make the fields look like some great meadow where people hang out and soak up some rays. Its a soccer pitch, and if it becomes an artificial turf it can be used year round, regardless of the weather.

    Most of the time its a desolate place which is locked up for the public, only to be used when a team reserves the fields.

    If anyone wonders what the fields will look like, make a trip to Crocker-Amazon some evening and see how the fields are packed full with kids and adults of all ages playing soccer on a safe pitch. The activity makes the area a safer, more friendly environment than what was there before. That will be the case as well at Beach Chalet into the future.

    Also the opponents say the money is

  12. Almost all of the crowd was against removing 7 acres of LIVING grass and soil in GG Park and replacing it with DEAD artificial turf (containing 2-3 pounds of toxic tire particles per sq foot, over 300 tons total). It has to replaced every 10 yrs. The proposed project is completely against the text & spirit of the GG Park Master Plan (Google it to read it).

    There was a recent Chronicle article about tattooing. It said, “black tattoo inks include benzo(a)pyrene, which was identified in an EPA toxicity report as ‘among the most potent and well-documented skin carcinogens.’ It is so potent that it is routinely used in animal tests to grow tumors.”

    Guess what the tire infill contains? Yep, benzo(a)pyrene. I don’t want 300 tons of cancer-causing tire particles in GG Park – nor do most RD residents. Tell Sup. Mar you don’t want it (or lights 60 feet high on until 11 pm). Contact his office: 554-7410, Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org. I think he’s for it right now and will be voting on it (the EIR for it) in the next 6 months so let him know you are very much against it. He’s facing re-election next November so you have extra leverage with him now.

    Thanks Sarah for the excellent coverage – that’s a fine service you provided to your readers.


  13. Thank you for this write-up. Here is more information:

    Leland Yee, in his introductory comments, said that he is concerned about the privatizing of our parks. During the Rec and Park questions, Jeff Adachi came out strongly against the artificial turf and 60 foot lights.

    SF Ocean Edge attended with over 30 supporters wearing “Save Golden Gate Park” buttons and holding signs.

    The soccer fields are now only used for soccer, because the gates are locked to the general public the rest of the time. This meadow has been taken away from most of the people who use and enjoy the park.

    This is not the way it used to be — before the fencing went up (and without any public input), people used to run out there, to fly kites, and to enjoy the meadow when there were no games. There was even a concert out there – that cannot happen on artificial turf.

    SF Ocean Edge would like to work with soccer players for a win-win solution for this area, and therefore, we handed out the following letter to the soccer players:

    To San Francisco soccer players and their families,

    We absolutely support youth soccer. We agree that the Beach Chalet fields need renovation and there is no reason they can’t continue to be used for soccer. But artificial turf and stadium night-lighting on 60-foot poles aren’t in keeping with the wild nature of the west end of this beautiful and historic park. Instead, we’d like to see some really great grass fields and spend the money that would be saved on facilities for soccer and other sports across the city.

    Here’s the truth about what we really want:
    • Top-notch natural, living grass soccer fields, properly renovated, with a great base, good irrigation, and good drainage, so that they stand up to lots of use and don’t get flooded when it rains;
    • Gopher controls, so that players don’t have to worry about twisting an ankle because of holes in the pitch;
    • No night-lighting – most of the year, youth players play in the daytime. The stadium lighting is bad for birds and other wildlife, and visitors to Ocean Beach won’t enjoy the sunset or the fire rings with 240,000 watts of lighting behind them;
    • A saving of about $8 to $10 million (compared to the artificial turf plans), which could then be spent on renovating other sports and recreation facilities in the city. SF soccer can get a lot more for this money.
    • A change in budgeting priorities in the Recreation and Park Department that moves away from the current policy of hiring high-paid management personnel and towards hiring groundskeepers and gardeners.

    We understand that this information may not address all your concerns. Please feel free to discuss any other issues with our volunteers, or e-mail us through our website.

    We want to work with San Francisco’s soccer community to put forward a really great proposal that balances the needs of wildlife, nature, parkland, and everyone who uses Golden Gate Park, and maintain this fabulous natural resource for future generations.

    Many thanks,

    SF Ocean Edge
    SF Ocean Edge Facebook

  14. NATURAL FIELDS ONLY there is no way that plastic/tire crumb is healthy. The lights a horrible for the wildlife and do I need to say anything about cutting down trees.
    Great meeting

  15. You may have noticed, Susan Hirsch of City Fields, (installer of artificial fields in SF), had a little conference with Bevan Dufty prior to the debate. Susan Hirsch Associates represents some of the biggest political doners in San Francisco.
    Bevan Dufty was the only candidate that supported removing the Beach Chalet grass field and replacing it with tire waste and plastic.

  16. It may be worth noting converting the pre-existing natural grass of the Golden Gate Park Soccer Fields to plastic and tire waste does not create more play fields. It will in fact decrease the existing play fields potential use for most recreational activities other than soccer. Currently The City of San Francisco has well over 30 acres of synthetic soccer fields.


    The Styrene-Butadiene-Rubber-SBR tire waste used in San Francisco synthetic fields contains;
    a) chemicals (including benzothiazole, butylated hydroxyanisole, n-hexacane, 4-(t-octyl) phenol, etc.),
    b) heavy metals (including lead, mercury, arsenic, selenium, cadmium, zinc [up to 14 times the national standard].
    c) carbon black (an elemental carbon at the nanoparticle level, responsible for carcinogenic and inflammatory effects).
    d) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic chemicals.

    The plastic parts of synthetic turfs contain;
    a) phthalates / Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and volatile nitrosamines.

    This brings up public health concerns including;
    a) cancers
    b) thyroid effects
    c) neurological effects
    d) developmental effects
    e) allergens and their impact on asthma patients
    f) skin, eye, and respiratory irritation,
    g) bacterial infections, including MRSA, “superbug”, (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

  17. Funny those arguments against artificial turf. Do you not drive or walk on city streets? Imagine how many of those chemicals are all around you in the tar and paving. You are probably living within 10 feet of them at this very moment!

    Also, you can not be for middle class housing in SF and be against high density development. It’s simple supply and demand economics. The status quo of the 1 to 2 story development covering the west side of the city makes it impossible for the non- rich and non- poor to live in SF anymore.

    Of course, these are common sense examples, and this is San Francisco, LaLaLand Jr.

  18. Thanks for your great coverage, Sarah. I’m also pleased to see so many comments. If I may add a few of my own:

    Re. BRT – It’s a bad idea for many reasons. It’s very expensive; will disrupt Geary Blvd. during construction and threaten the viability of all the small businesses on the boulevard; it will not save very much travel time; and, many of the benefits of the BRT can be gained with a much less expensive project using dedicated bus lanes, prepaid fares, and new equipment. New York City is rolling out a new service called Select Busses, which are efficient, fast, and did not require new construction. We should consider copying this plan. You can learn more at: http://www.mta.info/nyct/sbs/

    Re. the artificial turf soccer fields in Golden Gate Park – Please go to http://www.sfoceanedge.org and learn more about why these artificial turf soccer fields with 60 foot high lights is a terrible idea. The current fields can be renovated for a fraction of the cost of installing artificial turf. These fields off-gas for months after they’re installed, poisoning the neighborhood with unpleasant, potentially harmful, fumes. Synthetic turf and bright lights at night will disrupt the birds and other wildlife in the environment. This disruption of the ecosystem of the Park threatens a delicate balance of nature that is very important. For example, if there are fewer predatory birds in the Park, the rodent population will increase accordingly. I don’t think anyone wants an invasion of mice/rats in their neighborhood. And let’s not forget that many of the components of the tire crumb and plastic are on California’s Proposition 65 list of carcinogens/endocrine disrupters. Do we really want our children playing on these fields?

    If you agree with the growing number of people who opposed the artificial turf soccer fields, please go to http://www.sfoceanedge.org and sign up. We’re also circulating a petition that we’d love to have you sign. And, please, contact Supervisor Eric Mar at eric.l.mar@sfgov.org and let him know how you feel. Golden Gate Park is in his (our) district, and he needs to hear from as many of us as possible in order to stop this project.

  19. In fact, these are not commonly occurring chemicals found in our environment including tar and pavement. Additionally on a soccer field the dust this material is constantly being kicked and hyperventilated deep into the alveoli of the lungs of the players, not to mention ingested. Toys from China have been stopped at the border with less lead in them. The amount and type of chemicals found in tires is part of the reason why the state of California requires a permit for any facility storing more than 10 tires.

  20. The argument that only live grass can be used in the man-made park doesn’t make any sense to me. Do you drive on dirt roads in the park? Playgrounds are not made of wood and other naturally occurring in the park materials, they are mostly made of plastic. Nobody is making an argument that Lindy in the Park should be happening on dirt instead of asphalt. There is nothing natural about de Young museum or the carousel. They are 100% artificial.
    I can go on, but I think I made my point that singling out the soccer field as the only element that cannot be artificial is hypocritical.

    In general, why don’t we let soccer players decide which type of turf they prefer? I honestly don’t think local residents have standing in this issue, unless they are active players.
    The only issue on which local residents have standing is the lighting. In my opinion it’s not a big deal, but I acknowledge that this as a valid concern, unlike other issues.

  21. I am a soccer player in San Francisco. I suggest that we preserve our dwindling grass fields and build synthetic fields in less dense areas of the city. There is no reason why a small segment of society should force its health risks on others. City Fields crows about how they are creating more play fields and in fact do not. They are just a front for Bob Fisher and his construction buddies. Why else does he hire 4 paid lobbyists plus an army of assistants to try to convince San Francisco politicians to accept his “gifts”?

  22. I’m surprised that more of the people who are against the artificial turf in GG Park are not pointing at the simple fact that artificial turf causes more, and more serious injuries than natural grass surface.


    Even if you don’t believe the toxicity reports and don’t care about wildlife, surely you wouldn’t want to increase the chances of saddling children with injuries that are likely to haunt them for the rest of their lives.

  23. Thanks for those links Silvia.

    Here’s another one that studied injuries in women soccer players in Sweden on artificial turf vs natural grass:

    The above link found more ankle injuries when soccer was played on artificial turf: “In matches, the incidence of serious injuries was significantly higher on artificial turf (RR 2.0). Ankle sprain was the most common type of injury (34% of all acute injuries), and there was a trend towards more ankle sprains on artificial turf than on grass (RR 1.5).”

    The 50% more stress the artificial turf is placing on the knees vs natural grass that the first link you provided found should probably be in the EIR they (the firm Rec & Park hired) are doing now on the fields but it probably won’t be which is why the supervisors should reject the EIR (and hopefully kill forever this idiotic idea to put 300 tons of toxic tire particles in GG Park). The cancer-causing benzo(a)pyrene in the tire infill (or the other toxics Dr. Kaufman mentioned above) probably won’t be addressed in the EIR either. My guess is Ginsburg’s Rec & Park purposely chose the firm they knew they could count on to do an EIR that would say there’s nothing wrong with the project.

    It’s very scary that little children as well as adults will pay the price in screwed up knees that will diminish their quality of life forever (or until they get a knee replacement) so that a few people can make a little mint off this whole scam (the contract to install the artificial turf & tires in Beach Chalet is $12 million I believe so it’s big $).

    Sarah in her excellent reporting on the event said this, “[candidate] Cesar Ascarrunz opposed the fields due to his own soccer experience. ‘I was a professional soccer player. I hate artificial turf. ‘ ” I believe he also made reference to it being bad for the knees when one plants their foot to kick the ball with the other foot. And if you play on it, you track the little tire particles into your car (from your shoes) and then into your home.

    And candidate Tony Hall a few minutes later said that of his 7 children, 5 went to college on an athletic scholarship. He said he knows all about these fields and said they are horrible for the knees. He also said the 49ers just had a report done on using artificial turf for one of their practice fields and the report came to the conclusion that it would be detrimental to the players’ knees (the same conclusion as the second link you provided).

    The City of SF is setting themselves up for major lawsuits that they will lose. They can be sued for knowingly and willingly putting over 300 tons of cancer-causing material in GG Park that people will be exposed to and possibly injured by (like a 2 year old baby accidentally eating the little tire particles) and they can sued for knowingly and willingly having children and adults play on an artificial field that will result in more serious knee injuries.

    Finally, this stuff will cost the City of SF (i.e., taxpayers) more money (besides the millions they may pay in lawsuits). The City of San Diego’s Park and Rec Dept just did a thorough study of artificial turf vs grass where all factors were looked at including the need to replace the artificial turf every 10 years. Here’s a link to it:

    Here’s what it says: “Over a 10-year period, the projected cost per participant hour of use is approximately $2.70 for natural turf and $3.10 for synthetic turf. Over a 20-year period, including one replacement of the synthetic turf carpet and infill, the cost per participant hour of use decreases to $1.75 for natural turf and $2.60 for synthetic turf.”

    So there’s not one good reason 300 tons of this toxic material should be put in GG Park and an abundance of strong reasons it shouldn’t be.

  24. Thank you for excellent coverage of the mayoral candidates night at the Rec Center. I was there for the first 2 topics only. Hopefully all viable candidates will attend if there is another evening such as this. It was indeed a San Francisco clamjamfry of candidates. A bit of levity is always welcome at these types of events.

  25. SF Ocean Edge: I think you are missing the essential and absolutely critical point here. We, the residents of San Francisco and PARTICULARLY the residents of the Richmond district, were blessed beyond measure by extremely generous and wise former residents of San Francisco with the GIFT of the second largest urban park in the U.S. – -and one of the world’s great urban parks. You appear to confuse PARK with stadium or commercial sports facility. this is a PARK and we have a general plan that specifies very clearly what its purpose is and what it is to be: It is NOT to be a commercial venue, but a place to escape into nature and get a break from the fake, the plastic, the unnatural, the toxic. We also have a “night sky”ordinance that expressly prohibits 60-foot stadium lighting from being installed — this is a residential neigbhborhood and that’s where we have all chosen to live. We could certainly have chosen to buy condos next to AT&T Park (they were cheap, cheap 13 years ago). It is extremely sad –and frightening — to me that you are so willing to throw away the irreplaceable and invaluable gift that you have been given — that you should have so little appreciation for it than to want to turn it into a toxic unnatural space in order to pander mostly to people who come in from other cities. No – once you put fake grass in, you’re on a very slippery slope. Once you violate the natural integrity of a space, everyone comes rushing in with their commerical ideas — Rec&Park will probably propose building a snack shack and more and more. Forthe last 6 years, all we’ve seen is the increasing commercialization of GGPark. It’s horrific. and it must be stopped. Needing revenue is clearly being used as an excuse to bargain away parks and rec centers all over the city. I strongly suggest that you spend some time looking in to who would be providing the fake grass, and who is getting these contracts…follow the money…and make the connections to who knows who, and for how long… if it smells like rotting fish, there’s a good chance that’s just what it is.

  26. Another reason to preseve the natural grass at the fields that no one seems to be talking about are the environmental reasons: A great deal of work is being done in the city and the Presidio right now to encourage wildlife and particularly native plant and butterfly species. When you replace natural grass in an area as large as the soccer fields, you also remove habitat for the insects and worms that birds eat. I realize that many people say “so what” — well, remember the big scare a couple of years ago when honeybees were dying by the millions … and people suddenly realized that without bees to pollinate plants, the entire system falls apart almost immediately. So anyone who thinks “ha! earthworms — who CARES! birds, who CARES! my soccer game is more important” better get a clue. You think you’re invincible because you’re at the top of the food chain — but you need to learn that everything that exists naturally on this planet has a PURPOSE — and without the worms and the insects they eat, without the birds, without every single piece in the puzzle — everything stops working very, very quickly. don’t kid yourself: when you damage nature, you’re damaging yourself.

  27. There seems to have been some confusion on our position, for which we apologize. SF Ocean Edge is AGAINST the artificial turf, the night lights, and all the other aspects of the soccer complex that change the character of the western end of Golden Gate Park.
    Please see our website for more on our position.

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