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Friday, November 7, 2014

Woman Arrested While Protesting Beach Chalet Soccer Field

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 4:55 PM

click to enlarge Kathleen McCowin, president of the Soccer Parents and Coaches for Grass Fields, stages a sit-in, protesting the beginning of work on the Beach Chalet athletic fields. Her sit-in blocked the south entrance to the fields in Golden Gate Park, backing up work trucks. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Kathleen McCowin, president of the Soccer Parents and Coaches for Grass Fields, stages a sit-in, protesting the beginning of work on the Beach Chalet athletic fields. Her sit-in blocked the south entrance to the fields in Golden Gate Park, backing up work trucks.

You can't fight City Hall, they say, and apparently you can't fight Rec and Park either. 

Today, protester Kathleen McCowin stood her ground for the ground, staging a solo-sit-in to block trucks from grinding up the grass and installing the controversial astroturf soccer fields at the end of Golden Gate Park. 

Her demonstration ended when McCowin was arrested, SF Weekly has learned. 

The Sheriff's Department said she has not been processed and booked, but her daughter, Elizabeth Dal Bon, was driving to the Hall of Justice to see her mother when SF Weekly called to confirm the arrest. 

"She was the person standing in front of the [construction] truck," Dal Bon said, "and she had supporters around her watching it all go down."

Those same environmental activists and the SF Recreation and Parks Department have waged a (astro) turf war for six long years, in what even the New York Times has called the ultimate Parks and Recreation re-enactment. Activists worry that the plastic turf, which is blanketed with granular, black, repurposed tire shavings, is a cancer-causing health hazard of cataclysmic danger.

McCowin, president of the Soccer Parents and Coaches for Grass Fields, shares those concerns. 

A recent NBC report reveals that perhaps it does make people sick, as reporters tracked astroturf-using goalies who've contracted Hodgkin's Lymphoma, allegedly due to the fake grass:


Though Amy Poehler is not in sight, the turf tussle ultimately manifested on the ballot: Proposition H would have stopped construction of the Beach Chalet rubber-tire soccer field, and Proposition I would weaken city regulations, leading to faster construction of the fields throughout the city.

Instead of soccer players on steroids, Prop. I would put soccer-field construction on steroids. 

Proposition I is also a "poison-pill" measure, which would negate Proposition H and allow the construction of the rubber-tire field at Beach Chalet, specifically. 

In the ballot count between grass and plastic pitches, plastic is winning, so far. As of the latest count today by the San Francisco Department of Elections, Prop. H was losing by about nine percentage points. Prop. I was winning by nine percentage points as well.

Still, Mike Murphy, a local activist and proponent of Prop. H believes construction shouldn't begin until every ballot is counted. That's why McCowin protested, she said. 

"Maybe we should just swallow our poison pill," Murphy said, but "she should be released."

SFPD Spokesperson Albie Esparza said while he could not confirm McCowin was arrested until she was booked, the likelihood is she will be cited and released. 

So for now, the protesters have backed down. "Rec and Park are done wreckin' the park for the day," Murphy said. 

But Monday is another day, and the protesters have fought against the plastic parks for six years. Why stop now? 


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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

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