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Artificial Turf and Lighting

The San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department is proposing converting Golden Gate Park’s four Beach Chalet grass soccer fields to artificial turf and installing 60′ lights that will remain on until 10:00pm each night. 

Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach are important parts of the Pacific Flyway- a migratory route extending from Alaska and Canada to South America which birds take each spring and fall.  Night lighting can cause birds to become confused and disoriented because birds that migrate at night navigate using the moon and stars.  Night lighting will negatively impact birds that roost and nest in this part of the park.

Golden Gate Park supports resident and migrating birds and other wildlife that depend on this habitat.  In 1930 the California Academy of Sciences published “A Handbook of the Birds of Golden Gate Park” which identified 111 species.  Flycatchers, thrushes, corvids, sparrows, warblers, hawks, owls, swallows and other birds depend on the habitat within the park.  Wildlife including mammals and butterflies also use the grass play fields.

Our Involvement

Golden Gate Audubon participated in the Synthetic Turf Task Force which made recommendations to SF Recreation & Parks Department.  On August 7, 2009 Golden Gate Audubon met with General Manager to discuss our concerns.  Golden Gate Audubon supported Supervisor Mirkarimi’s resolution to halt artificial turf playfield conversions until additional information becomes available.  On December 9, 2009 Golden Gate Audubon contacted the San Francisco Planning and Recreation and Parks Department regarding the applicability of the California Environmental Quality Act to Artificial Turf Playfield Conversions in San Francisco.  On January 12, 2010 Golden Gate Audubon filed a CEQA appeal with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors regarding the Beach Chalet playfields project in Golden Gate Park.  This CEQA appeal was determined to be premature.  The project was reviewed and given categorical exemptions by the San Francisco Planning Department on April 9, 2010. 

Golden Gate Audubon joined 14 other groups on April 27, 2010 in filing a CEQA appeal of the Beach Chalet Athletic Fields project in Golden Gate Park.  Two days later the SF Recreation and Parks Department communicated that they would be conducting an Environmental Impact Report for this project.  We will continue to monitor the progress including the scoping document and work toward a report which answers open questions, identifies alternatives, and provides mitigations.