Malibu High School Field Lighting Plan Draws New Criticism
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
The Malibu City Council is scheduled to hear the request for a Conditional Use Permit for four 70-foot-tall poles equipped with 14-foot lighting fixtures that generate 73,000 watts and could potentially be used for 100-plus nights a year for games, practices and other activities, such as fundraising, on Monday, June 25, at Malibu City Hall. Observers anticipate that public comment at the hearing will be protracted and passionate on both sides of the issue.
As lighting supporters continue to near their goal of $600,000 in donations to fund installation of the lights, new opposition to the controversial plan has recently surfaced. The Malibu Surfside News learned as it was going to press that a late meeting on Tuesday night resulted in legal counsel being retained and there are reportedly sufficient funds and community concern for project opponents to proceed with a potential legal challenge depending on the outcome of Monday's hearing.
Sperate opposition fundraising and petition drives are also underway.
Community activist Lynn Norton, who did not take a position on the issue during the complicated, four-year battle to bring the lights to MHS that included a Local Coastal Program amendment and two California Coastal Commission hearings, is one of the new project opponents.
"The current Mitigated Negative Declaration the study of 'Design of spill light and glare control' was done by the sales company that wants to sell lights to the high school," Norton told the Malibu Surfside News."Do you think their report might be influenced by whatever their client would like it to conclude?"
"The current MND concludes that changes from the original MND 'would not result in new significant environmental effects or result in a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects, and a supplemental MND would not be required,'" Norton continued.
"Many people don't understand that as the "Lead Agency" the high school was able to make the determination to do an MND instead of an EIR, for their own project—and now they say the changes to the project don't even require a supplemental MND, let alone an EIR. The changes from the project studied in the 2009 MND include changing from 53-foot temporary poles to 70-foot permanent poles, from 45,000 watts of light to 73,000 watts of light, and from 16 days to 75.
"The original 2009 MND concludes that the project will have insignificant impact, and therefore doesn't need an EIR, based on two things which aren't true: the statement which was never true that there is already security lighting at Zuma and street lights along PCH and therefore this would not introduce sky glow into an area that does not already have light—this statement is simply dropped from the current MND even though the current MND points to the original MND to justify itself, and the fact that significance must include an evaluation of duration and the project was insignificant because it was only 16 nights.
"This is no longer true but the current MND doesn't seem to talk about duration and significance anymore," Norton said.
"Most people don't seem to understand that this is not over until next Monday," Norton stated. "They think it is all decided and barely understand that there's still a decision to make. They don't understand that Coastal only decided an outside limit and what Coastal's purview is and, for example, that the city of Malibu and only the city of Malibu should concern itself with the benefits/impacts to citizens, including private views, noise to residents, etc."
Malibu High School's "Bring on the Lights" fundraising project to finance the field lighting moved closer to its $600,000 goal this week.
Gabrielle Morgerman and Kevin Morris joined Janice and Jeff Nikora in the top donation category, with a contribution of $40,000 or more.
Actor Charlie Sheen and the Malibu High School PTSA recently donated at the $10,000 and up level. They join the Malibu Bay Company, Micheal and Colleen Baum, Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber, Henry and Lori Holmes, Scott and Patti Schwartz, and an anonymous contributor at that level. There is also an anonymous donation at the $25,000 and up level.
The June 25 meeting agenda and the city staff report on the item are available online at www.malibucity.org