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Opponents Of Artificial Turf Field At Golden Gate Park Stage Sit-In After Voters Weigh In

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- The issue of artificial turf versus green grass for one San Francisco soccer field seems simple enough. But it's taken years of back and forth to bring the issue to a vote.

In fact, two votes. Prop. H would support keeping the grass, while Prop. I is in favor of the turf. While it appears voters have chosen the turf, this fight is far from over.

"They could at least have the grace to wait until San Francisco voters have spoken," said Kathleen McCowin, an artificial turf opponent.

In case you thought Tuesday's election ended the saga of the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields, think again.

"Twenty-five percent of the vote has not gone through. We're only eight points short of winning," McCowin said.

On Thursday, a small group of artificial turf opponents launched a sit-in, at what is now a construction site.

"This is vandalism on a large scale. You can see the giant cranes now," McCowin said.

The city started work 12 hours after the polls closed.

"Absolutely, we prepare for every eventuality," said Sarah Ballard of San Francisco Recreation and Park.

But the preparations actually stretch back years. "It's taking longer than one would expect to build a soccer field," Ballard said.

Six years, with many formal approvals.

"The Recreation and Park commission, the San Francisco Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, the (California) Coastal Commission," Ballard said. "And now the voters, now essentially three times."

Even in a city famous for long, tortured debates, Ballard said, "I'd say this one takes the cake."

The sheer scope of this dispute may be the only common ground out here.

"The politics behind this are profound," McCowin said.

The profound politics will continue Friday morning, when the sit-in resumes at dawn. "They know it's illegal," McCowin said.

But construction will resume as well, because as far as the city is concerned, this odyssey is closing in on the final pages.

"It's San Francisco, so somebody could dream something up. But we hope to be cutting a ribbon on that field in a year," Ballard said.

There is still one pending legal matter with the turf fields. That case, a failed challenge to the environmental impact report, is currently on appeal.

Also, the votes from Props H and I still haven't been certified.

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