SAN DIEGO - Angry and frustrated residents packed an auditorium at Point Loma High School Wednesday night to confront San Diego Unified School District officials with a barrage of questions surrounding a proposal to install stadium lighting on the school’s playing field.
Many who live in the coastal community fear that the stadium lights will bring noise, traffic and a criminal element into their neighborhood. Residents say they are also concerned about the school district’s plan to lease the playing fields out to other community and athletic groups, which may cause problems 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I think we’ve had decades of pent-up frustration by the neighbors who have complained and given their concerns and the district didn’t listen and didn’t respond,” said school board member Scott Barnett, who hosted the public meeting and urged the crowd to remain calm.
“The kids are drinking more. The kids are doing a lot of different things that they should not be doing at nighttime games,” said a longtime resident who graduated from Point Loma High decades ago.
The lights are just a small part of a 20-year plan now in the works to upgrade the campus, which was built in 1935.
Several students and parents were in the packed auditorium in support of the proposed changes.
“I think it is atrocious that there’s so much concern about parking and the use of this facility when there should be more concern about the effects of these upgrades will have to our students, and that should be the number one priority in this whole situation,” said Angelica Wilson, who was applauded by many.
While architects at the meeting said they had no pre-conceived notions of what the improvements should be, residents accused them of already building the plan without community input.
Barnett said they needed to vent and expressed hope that cooler heads would work together with the district to identify the best options for the future of Point Loma High.
One possibility, said Barnett, is to build a parking structure, another is to put traffic controls in place on days when the campus is expecting large crowds.
Three more community meetings are planned before any decisions will be made about Point Loma High’s future, said district officials, who promised to do a better job of communicating with neighbors.