Board approves extra lights at Point Loma HS stadium despite protests, lawsuit

Posted at 8:20 AM, Jul 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-13 11:34:40-04
SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Unified School District board members voted unanimously Wednesday to add lighting to Point Loma High School's football stadium, despite a lawsuit.
After a nearly one-hour public hearing where 39 speakers, all opposed to the proposal, spoke, SDUSD board President Michael McQuary said a previous meeting found that the value of lights at the stadium outweighed concerns.
"Tonight didn't result in anything new," McQuary said, referring to opponents who spoke.
The board held a public hearing on May 24 and certified an environmental impact report for the Point Loma High Whole Site Modernization and Athletic Facilities Upgrade Project, which included stadium lighting.
After that, 17 Point Loma residents filed the lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court in an attempt to stop the district from what they claim is an illegal lighting and commercialization of the football field.
"The school district has no right to further damage the neighbors' quality of life," said Robert P. Ottilie, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, during a brief news conference held before the school meeting
Many opponents sported stickers that read, "Save our neighborhood."
Ottilie said the district is required by law to identify every reasonable project alternative for the school, located at 2335 Chatsworth Blvd.   
Ottilie gave several examples of how San Diego-area schools use other facilities for sporting events, and even the San Diego Chargers have shared their field with "the Rolling Stones and monster truck rallies."
The lawsuit will continue, according to a representative of Pro Point Loma.
Carol Simpson, lead plaintiff  who lives behind the stadium, said the school's homecoming event results in incredible noise and trash left in her yard.
"In my case, this is not NIMBY-ism," Simpson said, referring to "not in my back yard." "The stadium is already in my back yard."
Another opponent, Beverly Klose, said just one football game affects her family in a negative manner.
"Even with the windows shut, we must cope with mind-numbing cacophony," Klose said.
One night after a game, she and her family arrived home to find that someone held a beer party in her yard, leaving trash behind. Klose added that history has shown it takes between four and five police cruisers to keep order during such events.
Many of the residents who spoke in opposition to the lights said they are strong supporters of the school, including some who are alumni. They asked the board to find an alternative to Point Loma High for night games.
Some told the board that adding lights would result in high traffic, parking problems, cause too much disruption for families who go to sleep early, potential vandalism or other crimes, decreased student parking and alter the neighborhood's tranquil character.
Others criticized the board for concentrating on adding lights, when there are far more pressing issues facing San Diego schools.
Board member Kevin Beiser said the district's field-use policy does spell out reasonable limitations for events.
The lights will be installed in the near future, according to Linda Zintz, the district's director of communications.