I actually got a couple of phone calls and had a few nice conversations with neighbors who saw a Letter to the Editor that was published a month ago in our local newspaper.  It was comforting to realize that that sort of communication was still possible in our modern screen-mediated world.  Imagine, people actually talking on phones and face to face about something they read in an actual newspaper.  A stretch…it’s really not that bad yet, not quite a Super Sad True Love Story world we’re living in…though, sometimes I wonder.  Here’s that supersadtrueloveletter to the Editor.


There’s good reason to dispose of tires properly.  Fire speeds up natural processes which would occur more slowly under normal conditions.  Superfund sites are the infamous result.  Cradle to Cradle design is a laudable concept that does not apply when the materials being circulated are neither healthy nor safe.  Tire manufacturing is toxic.  New, used, and remanufactured products are the offspring of the toxic creation.  To attempt a lifecycle development which incorporates direct human exposure to these toxins would seem ill-advised.


Caution and common sense thrown to wind, in this case, is an ill wind that blows nobody to good.  Still, in the “greenest City in the US” where our Rec and Park department is rolling out a greener than green campaign and championing a “Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights”, streets, preschool floors, swaths and fields, and soon, whole schoolyards have been and will be paved with tire crumb and plastic.  The paper tape tells the tale.  It’s encoded in the system in capital letters:

01000111  01010010  01000101  01000101  01000100

Here’s the rest of the CalRecycle grants reported for the City.  Now you know why that used rubber is there in your neighborhood.


Some of the toxins found in artificial turf fields with SBR tire crumb infill are as follows:

acetone, aniline, arsenic, barium, benzene, benzothiazole, cadmium, chloroethane, chromium, cobalt, copper, halogenated flame retardants, isoprene, latex, lead, manganese, mercury, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, naphthalene, nickel, phenol,  polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, styrene – butadiene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.





Tire Incentive Program
The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) administers tire grant programs to provide opportunities to divert waste tires from landfill disposal, prevent illegal tire dumping, and promote markets for recycled-content tire products. The Tire Incentive Program (TIP) provides a reimbursement (as an incentive payment program) to eligible businesses that use (recycled) crumb rubber in eligible products or substitute crumb rubber for virgin rubber, plastic, or other raw materials in products. The program’s goal is to increase demand for crumb rubber and promote higher value products. (CalRecycle Website)

SF Rec and Park has embraced CalRecycle’s incentive payment program and promoted the use of crumb rubber products by increasing the demand for their use on athletic fields in the City.  The safety of these fields is questionable but the money goes directly into our enterprising Rec and Park’s budget no questions asked.  With the new grant cycle up and running, and construction on the Beach Chalet Fields in the Far West portion of Golden Gate Park slated to start this summer, some are asking questions.

CalRecycle rolled out their grant program in FY2005-2006.  Coincidentally, the first of the Rec and Park/CityFields artificial turf/SBR crumb rubber fields was rolled out that same year.  Statewide demand for the grant money was and remains high.  A lottery system was instituted to distribute awards to various qualifying projects throughout California.  Park and Rec hit the lottery in 2007/8 when $68,250 was awarded to the Department for replacement of natural grass with syn turf at Kimbell PlaygroundResolution 090839 by the SF Board of Supervisors authorized Rec and Park to accept and expend that grant money retroactively for the purchase of crumb rubber for the Crocker Amazon Complex Project.

In FY2010/11, Rec and Park hit the lottery again, this time for $150,000, having applied for a grant for the Ocean View Playground Athletic Fields (prior to the renaming of the facility, which is now called Minnie and Lovie Ward).  This project was not completed by the date required by the terms of the grant and is still under construction.  The Board of Supervisors authorized Rec and Park to accept and expend the grant retroactively for tire derived materials for use at various City park sites for the period June 1, 2011 through March 31, 2013.  The BOS resolution File #130178, Resolution #71-13 lists the various sites: Franklin Square, Garfield Square, Kimbell Playground, Silver Terrace, and Young Blood Coleman, and to help fund resurfacing costs at Cabrillo Playground, Lafayette Playground and Sunset Playground and, other park facilities that the Rec and Park Department determines might benefit from the use of Tire Derived Products.

There is a strong incentive to dispose of properly Tire Derived Products, like those now found all over the City in children’s playgrounds and in and and around syn turf athletic fields that Rec and Park and the City Fields Foundation have built.

A legal challenge to the proposed Beach Chalet Fields project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) questions the propriety of this disposal.  Numerous recent medical and environmental studies point to the toxicity of the constituents of artificial turf/SBR infill constructions.  The CEQA analysis relies upon independent judgement to decide whether a project may have the potential to cause substantial environmental harm.  The potential for harm is there.  The degree to which that harm exists is, at yet, under investigation.  It’s a lottery.  That judgement has been clouded by cash incentives is clear.  How the court will rule on the case, currently under appeal, is uncertain.  What is certain, however, is that tried in the court of opinion by an informed public, the alternative to these toxic constructions, real grass which was there all along, is the real winner.

IMG_0602His hands were shaking as he put the plans on the conference table and unrolled them.  We were given as much time as we wished to review them.  Strange.  A little Sunshine, a FIFA request.  Rec and Park was “responsive”.  Responsiveness is a hallmark of the new political paradigm.  A ruse, a simulation.  Simulated responsiveness.

I was told that this Project Manager who works for Rec and Park and who also sits on the board of the City Fields Foundation (the private part of the private-public partnership whose intent is to pave over all of the City’s fields with toxic artificial turf), is the nervous sort.  Maybe hyper-vigilance is in order.  Could be that it’s in the job description.

The popular presumption is that Rec and Park is corrupt.  I’ll buy into that.  For sure, the abovementioned partnership doesn’t pass the smell test.  Your erstwhile Certified Qualified Write-In Candidate for D4 Supe got a good whiff of that and put it out there that such corporate sponsorship of our Parks was not wanted.  So, here you have my expressed opinions in a thumbnail sketch.

If these fields were truly safe for kids, then why the hazmat liner under the ghost grass and chopped up tires?  Why would all the rain that falls on the fields go to the Westside Treatment Plant?  It’s safe, right?  And free of all that pesky dirt that would ordinarily get mixed in with it.  Why don’t we just drink it? 

As the SF Groundwater Supply Project gets underway, that’s what we’ll do.  Wells right next to the proposed shittyfields will draw water from the aquifer over which Rec and Park wants to install this hazmat dump with a 20 mil liner and a plastic artificial grass cover.  Weird timing for these projects.  I went to the Planning Commission to complain and made my 3 minute comment because I felt I ought to do something.  It didn’t feel good (think Gong Show), but I did it.  One gets the feeling, at these public comment periods, that the real game’s not over here, that the show is elsewhere.  And it isn’t and it is.  There are no actual bags of money being passed around anymore but the favors have already been traded and decisions have already been made.  The malaise in me arose even as I steeled my resolve not to be a water-boy in this game.

In an average year around 4 million gallons of rain fall on the Beach Chalet Meadow.  During heavy storms, that rain, mixed with everything that gets flushed, gets screened and dumped into the Pacific Ocean at overflow points at Lincoln and Vicente.  A November 2013 storm rained o’er us about 1″ and flushed fecal coliform.  The ShittyFields at the Beach Chalet would creating a giant container of the area.  All of those 4 million gallons which would ordinarily enter the watershed will be diverted to the combined sewer system.  4 million gallons of rain wasted.  Additional irrigation is required to clean the snot, spit, and sweat off the plastic mat, and to cool the created heat island in Golden Gate Park (the thermal coefficient of containerized rubber covered with plastic is high).  That water will be wasted too.

The drought continues, it rains again…a long awaited winter storm pattern in February, hopefully not the last we’ll see.  A few puddles in the street here and there, complete with dead rainbows floating in oil, thin film diffraction, and I’m thinking–drains to ocean not to groundwater basin.  Amidst the storm, an eye on the watershed in a watershed moment, and real rainbows in the sky.  Ours is a beautiful City, beheld from many vantage points, and still many of those eyes are attached to the idea that we should not miss any opportune moment to create something beautiful.  7 1/2 acres of hazmats wrapped in plastic does not describe any reasonable person’s idea of beauty when compared to what can be created by working in concert with Nature.

So, what’s a reasonable person to do?  Grab some friends, head out to a meeting with contractors and the same shaky project manager.  Rec and Park wants to start the ball rolling on this project.  They’re desperate to use the old bond money left over from the last Presidential term.  And, there are some hungry political donors who want to eat.  Funny thing, if you throw $500 million in bonds at a department with no real mission whose organizational MO revolves around public-private partnerships, all the political hacks, seeing the lack of oversight, take in the view of that giant pile of money, and it becomes a clearing house for political debt. 

We sat around the table.  At some point, I pointed to the Partnering provisions of the contract.  I noted the charged political atmosphere surrounding the project.  After all, didn’t I run for public office on a platform that called for canning this ill-conceived, toxic project?  I noted that it would be a good idea to allow for some extra on site security for this unpopular environmental degradation.  A direct action would wreak havoc with payment schedules and coordination of the project.  I mentioned bumbeques (the pejorative term for cooking over an open fire in our public places).  I asked–what if?–and was told that rarely does the tire crumb infill create a conflagration.  Reassuring.  Less reassuring considering that the EPA’s largest Superfund sites are tire fire areas.  I’ve seen tire fires on the Rez back in New York.  The heat and the clouds of poisonous smoke make extinguishing them nearly impossible…nothing to do but watch them burn, and when it’s over, bulldoze the area.

At the meeting, there was concern about sourcing the cryogenically produced SBR infill material.  The best, less-dusty, toxic tire crumb comes from a process by which tires are submerged in liquid nitrogen, frozen and smashed to bits.  There’s high demand for the product.  Everyone wants to move the tires filling up the landfills.  Whole tire disposal is strictly regulated by the EPA and is an expensive pain in the ass for landfill operators.  Dumps would prefer to move these tires and have worked out the workaround for getting rid of them, but there just aren’t enough processing facilities to fill the orders.  The orders are there because of the political push to install the fields, no BS–it’s not about the kids, it’s about money.  And the the PAC’s, and the political hacks, and the New Age Tin Men who sell these cancers, make the rules and control the playing fields for this game.  There’s money in plastic and used rubbers, a lot of money.  Railing against this one, well, it’s not a level field–it’s uphill all the way.

And so we beat on, angry and growing louder.  We’re going to ballot box this one too.  The language for the ballot initiative is being drafted.  We’re crowdfunding the campaign.  We’re being resourceful.  We’re reaching out (still) and asking for (still more) support.  In a perfect world, it wouldn’t come to this (again).  Elected officials would get the picture.  There would be a real apparatus for public input and a real, effective means for that input to find its way into the decision-making process.  Sadly, in its current state, all the City Hall apparatchiks in the apparat leave us no choice–it’s the way it is, not as it should be.

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, the first of the bad signs went up at Ocean Beach.  We received much needed rain, almost an inch in a 48 hour period, in this, our driest year on record.

(Photo credit: Ocean Beach Bulletin)https://i2.wp.com/oceanbeachbulletin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/IMG_0061-1.jpg

Almost immediately, the signs went up.  The volume of rainwater added to the combined storm/sewer system overflowed the system, was screened and sent untreated into the ocean.  A friend, whom I recently paddled out with on his 40th birthday, called with the surf (sign) report.  “This sucks, man!” was the report.  Today, the signs came down.  It goes without saying that traces remain.

I’ll issue the surf report today for Friday around the noon hour.  It’s little, ride-able, light sideshore winds, interval is kind of tight, good exercise on a sunny afternoon, could be fun…but, here’s the disclaimer–it’s kind of shitty.  The chunks got filtered out, but who’s going outside the break to check the water?  Not me.  I’m going to sit it out today.  I just decided.  And, I’m going to try not to think about that Dungeness Crab I want for the holiday feast.

It sucks, man.  Sadly, it gets worse.  I just got a copy of the proposed budget for the conversion of the Beach Chalet Meadow into a keep-the-light-on-for-ya toxic Field Turf dump.  It calls for containment of the toxic slurry that will filter through the ground-up tire crumb infill.  Where’s all that toxic crap going to go?  Yup, into the combined storm/sewer system.  Well, at least there won’t be any chunks in it when that, too, gets pumped into our Ocean.  Maybe the plan is to kill the pathogenic organisms of shitty origin with the toxic wasted water from the shitty fields.  That would be of some comfort, an indication that there is something of a plan behind this knuckle-headed industrial soccer stadium complex.

It’s been pretty quiet since the election kind-of-sort-of wrapped up.  The law requires that Department of Elections certify the vote by the day after Thanksgiving.  Then, thankfully, that will be over.  I look forward to analyzing the stats.  I can already be proud of the fact that my District will have cast more ballots than any other in the City.  I’m happy to know that I know my neighbors a little better than I did previously.  With their encouragement, I’ll continue to press the two main issues that prompted me to run for Supervisor–ending the appointee/incumbent cycle to restore a sense of fairness to the electoral process, and protecting our watershed and our ocean from toxicogenic projects like the one proposed for our Golden Gate Park.  Without social justice, environmental justice is a tough row to hoe.

In closing, for the record, for those who don’t know me well enough, I am not opposed to soccer.  Nor am I opposed to fields of play for elders and youngers.  Soccer was never my preferred sport, but if any team needs a goalie, I’m willing to fill in and probably do a mediocre job at it.  Being in a wide open field reminds me of my younger days when I did play ball, from my childhood through college as a Division III athlete.  I spent a lot of time on fields of play, enough to know them well and to appreciate the significant advantages of playing on a well-maintained natural grass field over a shoddy plastic substitute.

I also know this about the games we play–sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes, it rains.  And, sometimes when it rains, it sucks, man.

Thanks to the Ocean Beach Bulletin for reporting the news.


Electronic registration of votes is not very sexyredbar.  The Department of Elections’ iconic Red bar  fills in for the numerical string.

Red bar grows as the vote tally goes.  That’s sexier.  Far sexier are all of your markings on the bagged ballots awaiting to be counted and reviewed.  This is going to take a while.  In the meantime, there’s a Meadow to save and a promise to keep.  I’m going to keep writing about the issues until the count’s good.  Consider it a pause to stop and reflect–a moment of retrospective significance.  Stay tuned.  Check your virtual progress meter.  Thanks.

As of yesterday, the 14th, the virtual progress meter showed some movement.  Actually, there may be a couple of thousand votes out there.  There are a lot of ballots that need to be opened.  “Drop your mail in ballot at any polling place” was the advice I gave to voters who wanted to participate, rather than sit out, this time around.  Let’s see how many made it to that dock by the Bay and over to City Hall.  The vote will be Official around Thanksgiving.  Thanks for voting.