Lawsuit challenging the Beach Chalet turf project goes to trial

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Artist rendering of what the Beach Chalet fields will look like with stadium lights and artificial turf.

Plans to place artificial turf and stadium lights on Beach Chalet’s soccer fields in Golden Gate have been in the works since 2011, and local environmental groups have been fighting the proposal and losing each time. Now, their final hopes rest on a lawsuit going to trial this Friday.

[UPDATE 8/16: Presiding Judge Teri L. Jackson is calling for more input from the plaintiff and defendant attorneys on Wednesday, August 21, so a decision in the case isn't expected until then at the earliest. on that day at the earliest. Check back on Monday for coverage of went down in the courtroom during today's trial.]

The SF Coalition for Children's Outdoor Play, the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter, and other groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 when it chose turf that uses styrene-butadiene rubber from old tires.

“We’re going to argue that it violates the Environmental Quality Act when the city decided to use the most toxic rubber,” plaintiffs attorney Richard Drury said. “We’re asking the judge to do a new environmental impact report and to consider other alternatives, such as using more environmentally friendly material.”

Katherine Howard, spokesperson for SF Ocean Edge, a group of environmentalists and residents who live near the site, has been a leading opponent of the project.

“We feel that the project is totally wrong,” Howard said. “Golden Gate Park is described as an escape from the city, and to cover acres of it’s land with grounded up tires is awful.”

In May, the California Coastal Commission denied an appeal of the project after a hearing was called to determine whether or not the plan violates the Coastal Act and the city’s Local Coastal Plan, which calls for naturalistic conditions at the site.

“We believe that this is a strong case,” Arthur Feinstein of the Sierra Club said. “If we lose we have the opportunity to go to a higher court of appeals.”
Trial for the lawsuit starts at 9:45 a.m. this Friday, August 16 at the San Francisco Superior Court of California in Room 503, and is expected to last two to four hours.

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