San Francisco wants to put turf on four public soccer fields, insanity ensues

This is a great piece of reporting from Josh Barro, and I’m glad it’s in the New York Times, so the cultural brethren of those illuminated in the piece can take in just how crazy they sound.

Here’s the deal. There’s a park in San Francisco with a couple of soccer fields in it. They don’t get nearly as much use as they could because they’re grass fields. San Francisco is kinda rainy, it takes a lot of money and resources to maintain real grass fields, and they don’t hold up as well as turf under frequent use. So, after about 19 times the due diligence necessary for determining the relative safety and environmental impact of turf athletic fields in any other city on planet Earth, most of San Francisco’s leaders—covering the spectrum from Democrats to progressives—decided turf might be a good idea. But no. Its citizens— a veritable municipal army of activists trying to out-progressive one another with self-righteous pronouncements and corporate conspiracy theories has decided this shall not happen.

Here are some of the reasons.

“We’re likening it to paving over the park,” said Jean Barish, a lawyer on the west side of the city who has spent years trying to stop the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields replacement project.

Mind you, the turf proposed is made of recycled rubber from tires— the high-end stuff wide-outs kick up in NFL replays all weekend long that looks just like grass but doesn’t need a ton of water and seed and mowing to maintain it.

“I think people have been paid off by developers, perhaps by the tire industry,” said Freddi Alagheband, a resident of the Outer Richmond neighborhood who organized a fire circle on Monday at Ocean Beach to protest the project.

Yep, Big Michelin Man.

Mike Murphy, treasurer of the Committee to Protect Golden Gate Park, which collected the signatures to put Proposition H on the ballot, insists the city is faking a field shortage to create demand for artificial turf. “It’s an inventory scheme. It’s a vector marketing scheme,” said Mr. Murphy, who teaches ecoliteracy in city preschools.

It’s nice to see that San Francisco has a self-parody so dedicated to civic action and indoctrinating the youth with his special brand of incisive thinking.

“Is there a conspiracy?” asked Ms. Barish, the anti-turf lawyer. “Who knows? Is there money being paid to people under the table? We don’t know that.” She alleged that the Fisher family, heirs to the Gap fortune who donated much of the money to finance artificial turf athletic fields across the city through the City Fields Foundation, had business interests in construction.

Uh huh. Just reading this makes me feel like I just got cornered by that person at a dinner party.

There’s also talk of cancer clusters, naturally.

They believe ground-up recycled tires in the field surface will pollute groundwater. They say field lights will ruin views of the stars. They fear turf fields may lead to construction of high-rise condominiums or a major league soccer stadium on the oceanfront. They warn of a cancer cluster among goalies who played on artificial turf fields in Washington State.

The turf issue occupies two spots on the ballot in San Francisco this year, one pro-turf and one anti. Even if the pro side wins, do we really think they’re actually going to get their way? Ha.

“The environmental impact report is just dead wrong, and it’s now being litigated,” she told me, referring to an appeal of the superior court decision in favor of the city. “Even if we lose, we still think we have a right to fight this in court.”

If inexhaustible blowhardiness could be converted to energy, San Francisco could pat itself on the back forever and ever amen by successfully replacing every fossil fuel America could ever need. And, isn’t that what they really want? The self-congratulation, that is, not the world-saving. Barro calls it “Parks & Recreation” come to life. This town needs a Ron Swanson so bad.