City dumps soccer permits at Mission Playground

San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department decided Thursday to stop granting permits for adults to play at a soccer field in The City’s Mission District following a recent showdown caught on video between a group of tech workers and children already playing there.

The video taken on Aug. 18 at Mission Playground has drawn the public’s attention to who gets priority in city parks — children or those who can pay to play — and brought out a couple hundred people to the steps of City Hall this morning.

A group of adolescent soccer players, along with Supervisor David Campos and other members of the community, addressed the crowd prior to a Recreation and Park Commission meeting Thursday.

The gathering comes after a dispute that was caught on video and posted on YouTube with the title “Mission Playground is Not For Sale” and has garnered nearly 400,000 online views.

The video shows children who were playing soccer when a group of men in Dropbox T-shirts arrived at the field waiting to play. Some of the adults tried to kick the kids off the field, but the kids refused to leave and offered to let the adults play with them instead.

The adults continued to debate the issue and asked the kids to leave. Edwin Lindo, vice president of political affairs for the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club, said the clash was the result of a “city policy that is pitting groups against each other.”

Hector Gomez, a 15-year-old San Francisco resident who was one of the soccer players who stood up to the “techies,” said he stood up “for the kids, for the community.”

Campos joined Hector and the other children and expressed his support. The supervisor, who is also running for state Assembly, said the city’s “parks and recreation space belongs to all San Franciscans.”

Campos said the arguments over the issue are fueled by “bad choices” made by the Recreation and Park Department:

“Why don’t we all play together?”

As a result of the Aug. 18 confrontation, effective immediately permits will no longer be issued to adults for nighttime use of Mission Playground, which has newly renovated synthetic turf soccer and lights, the Rec and Park Department announced in a statement today.

Youth league permits will still be available until 7 p.m. everyday and the field will remain open for play from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily, according to the department.