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'Just Play' app profits off public SF soccer fields – Mission Local – The latest soccer highlights and football news

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In a move that privatizes San Francisco’s public reservation system for soccer fields, the Recreation and Parks Department has begun selling reservations to an app that turns a profit by booking fields and charging people to join pickup games.

The Recreation and Parks Department told Mission Local that the app, Just Play, has been obtaining permits since October to book fields at the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields in Golden Gate Park, as well as Garfield Square in the Mission District. It also books privately owned fields such as those at SFF Soccer in Mission Bay.

Previously at Garfield Square, Gabe Zitrin and some 30 soccer players would reserve the soccer field on Monday evenings — but since November, it has been consistently booked. It was reserved, presumably, by the Just Play app, which shows that it has reservations at the park for the next two Monday and Wednesday evenings.

Charging a $13.99 fee in San Francisco, the app is both more expensive and less accessible than the public reservation system. In comparison, if two San Francisco residents have their residency discount approved and then book both halves of a field with lights, it would cost $98 an hour, or $7 a person if there are 14 players.

“We were perfectly happy renting the field from the city ourselves, and now the city is asking us to go through a private, for-profit company and pay them $14 an hour?” Zitrin said. “Who thought this was a good idea?” 

The situation somewhat resembles the city’s 2014 saga with Sweetch and Monkey Parking, apps that would allow motorists to auction off public parking spaces to nearby drivers. With both apps — and with Just Play — public space is booked and re-sold for a profit.

But rather than permit the two parking apps to continue operating, City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a cease-and-desist letter to Monkey Parking in 2014 and stated it would do the same to Sweetch, calling the practice illegal and citing a police code that prohibits companies from buying public on-street parking.

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