Groups File Lawsuit to Stop MHS Field Lights

The Malibu Community Preservation Alliance and the Malibu Township Council say the 70-foot lights will change the characteristics of western Malibu.

Two Malibu groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the installation of 70-foot lights at 's athletic field.

The Malibu Community Preservation Alliance and the Malibu Township Council filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, July 25.

In response to the filing, Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin said the city stands by its decision to approve the lights.

"We’re disappointed that this has come to litigation, but we are prepared to defend the city’s decision," Hogin said.

On June 26, the Malibu City Council granted a coastal development permit and a temporary use permit for the construction of the lights, which will only be allowed for a . The council also required the school district to take down 12-foot cross bars on the lights from June 1 through August 31.

The lawsuit alleges that the Malibu City Council abandoned a compromise reached between residents and the school district in 2010 to allow temporary lighting for 16 nights out of the year.

"This will light up all of west Malibu like a professional stadium," said Steve Uhring, a member of the . "It is an egregious violation of the compromise that the community worked so hard to achieve with the district."

According to Hogin, the council only put in place the maximum number of nights the lights can be used.

"The city is setting the limit. If there is a compromise to be had, nothing would stand in the way of those parties reaching that agreement," Hogin said.

The groups also claim the Malibu City Council violated the city's Local Coastal Program and Municipal Code when it took the proposed lights under consideration in June without a public hearing before the Malibu Planning Commission. The council voted on the project because of conflicts by three Malibu planning commissioners.

Commissioner Mikke Pierson and Roohi Stack donated to The Shark Fund, which was set up by a group of parents to benefit projects at Malibu High School, including the lights project. Commissioner Jeffrey Jennings lives within 500 feet of the campus.

The lawsuit claims that even though there were not enough commissioners to create a quorum, California law allows under the rule of necessity to select one of the members to proceed.

In addition, the groups allege that the City of Malibu did not adequately take into account the full impact of the 70-foot lights.

“Due to the rural nature of the surrounding community and the absence of streetlights, lighting levels in the vicinity of the school campus are substantially less than are typical in residential areas. As a result, the introduction of high intensity stadium lighting on the school campus will directly and uniquely impact the surrounding community,” the lawsuit states.

Hogin said the city took special care to lessen the impact of the lights.

"The council imposed some pretty strict conditions in order to mitigate the impact. The requirement that the light standards come off the pole during the months that the field should not be in use at night is an important condition. That really does create a relatively unobstructed view during the summer months," Hogin said.

Malibu Patch will have more on this story soon.

Hans Laetz August 02, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Oh, God, the Google "experts" are at it again. "Let us see what I can find on the interweb and I am an instant lighting expert." I hate to give you a dose of reality. I spent 20 years as news operations manager and assignment editor at channels 5 and 7. I have extensive experience with pneumatic masts. TV stations are phasing them out, and cheering the retirement of each of those dinosaurs as new technology allows stations to get rid of them. They need constant maintenance. They jam frequently. They require heavy generators to keep even a half load up. As we said at channel 5, their Viagra quotient was damn low. Although some vendors claim they could go up to 50 feet, we could never get them to reliably work at that height. They would sway like drunken sailors, even in no wind. The reliable payloads are much less than advertised, and decreases as the poles age and their diaphragms become leaky. You would need a fleet of them around the stadium, and their light would still not reach the center of the field. God save us from Internet experts.
Hans Laetz August 02, 2012 at 04:30 PM
It is not Ms. Riggins' job to wipe your nose and cater to your every whim, Mr. E-M-B-R-Y.. The school district, the city and the parents made every effort to find the best technical solution, which has already been approved by your elected city council. The sore losers have filed a suit. Just like at the lagoon, they are hoping and praying for some sort of procedural error with which to thwart the popular view and the decision of the elected representatives. Good luck with that. Maybe the lagoon plaintiffs can give you a few pointers.
R Y A N August 02, 2012 at 04:57 PM
The design of pneumatic masts that the news media have used for decades have improved over time. News vans are constantly driving around with this equipment and using it several times a day to send their radio transmissions. Because media uses directional microwaves, their masts have to rotate on a 360-degree axis. That is exactly NOT what the locking masts would do at MHS. Like everything else, masts will wear out if operated many times each day. MHS would not be anything like that duty cycle.
Ben Dover August 02, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Marianne, There is nothing in that document that says tele mast will not work. The fact of the matter is I only did the research after I spoke with one of the original football moms ( on the night of the vote) who was part of the Shark Fund group that started this light project. I was told that the only manufacture of telescopic poles was in Europe, and it was not an option. It is most definitely is an option, and it does conform to your Costal Staff Report "Lighting shall be minimized, directed downward, and shielded using the best available visor technology and pole height and design that minimizes light spill, sky glow, and glare impacts to public views and wildlife to the maximum extent feasible." Fixed tele mast are different then temp lighting as they will always extend to the exact height from a fixed position on the ground enabling the light fixtures to be aimed at specific parameters. I am not a football mom or dad, and no offense, I do not push paper for a living in the public or private sector. I design, engineer, and fabricate for the film industry and private sector. Solving complex engineering and mechanical problems is what I do for a living. I do not have children, I do not live in Malibu Park, I am just a resident in Malibu who is tired of the "It's my way or the highway philosophy". I am also tired of the waste of public monies, time, and emotions that will continue to grow unless a compromise can be found.
R Y A N August 02, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Confusing the application with the procedural process. Quizzing the salesman for the applicant's chosen contractor as an all-knowing expert-to-decisionmakers, then relying on that information, was not only wrong, it was inaccurate information. Did he lie during the Hearing? Would he get a HUGE contract and commission if the project as submitted is built? Playing to a low denominator is wasting important resources to those of us hoping to avoid costly delays and mistakes. Flat out, the Council relied on information that an alternative to view-obstructing poles does not exist.
Ben Dover August 02, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Good morning Lenny, we are about to get really silly. I am not as hip as you so I had to look up the definition for Hotboxing on the computer. There are a number of definitions in the Urban Dictionary. The first definition is 1. hotboxing n. The practice of smoking marijuana in an enclosed space (e.g. a car or a small room) in order to maximize the narcotic effect. So are the lights supposed to illuminate Malibu Park enough so the students can't hide on dark streets and Hotbox? Or definition # 3. hotboxing The act of farting in empty elevator to leave a surprise for the people coming in. Know I have the answer to why it's so hard to find a good elevator repair guy.
Hans Laetz August 02, 2012 at 05:22 PM
R Y A N, I respectfully suggest that your ":google" knowledge about telescoping masts is -- quite frankly -- a pitiful joke. I spent 25 years in the TV news field, the last 10 of them as news operations manager at KTLA and KABC. I bought dozens of pneumatic masts, and let me tell you, telescopic masts have not changed at all since about 1985. That is why TV stations are very happy to remove them from service as they buy new trucks. The new COFDM microwave technology is a different modulation scheme that favors multipath "interference" -- making old fashioned line of sight RF transmitter height irrelevant., While I was working as a field producer for all nine LA TV stations and nets last fall the chief field engineers at KNBC and KTLA both told me they will never buy another one ever again. First, telescope masts perform better the more you use them, as the diaphragms and poles are self lubricating. They really need to be used daily or they freeze. Second, they do not rotate 360, they all have dead spots. Third, the require CONSTANT maintenance. Fourth, they do not like moisture, like fog, or dust. They do not like cold weather, like below 50F, because they get stuck as the diaphragms harden. They have dozens of parts of potential failure between the power source to the air pressure pumps to the hoses and clamps to the masts themselves. R Y A N, stop pretending to be an expert at TV news technology. Last I checked, you never worked there. I did, for 25 years.
Hans Laetz August 02, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Every six months, for the last six years, someone like "Bend Over" does an internet search and finds the British company that has a prototype that is not legal for import or use in the United States. Well done, Internet Wizard. Then, another genius will discover the WillBurt page and instantly become a TV technology maven, with a smug assurance that technology has come up a gravity-defying magic Action News solution that will somehow perform better than what 75 years of field experience shows. B E N D and R Y A N, you are plowing ground that has been plowed over and over and over. We get it. You know how to work the Google machine,.
Ben Dover August 02, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Hans, I always thought you were a bright guy until I read your last comment. Fyi there are many types of tele mast. The ones the news vans have are non locking and will rotate. A non rotational locking tele mast does not need air pressure, once it is extended. It Locks in place. Air pressure is only required to extend or retract the pole which takes only a minute per pole. The heavy duty mast are much beefier then the ones being used in news vans. Also Hans the reason your generators were having problems extending your mast is because generators produce electricity not compressed air, no wonder you guys had problems with pneumatic mast. News media should stick to reading their teleprompters and leave tele mast to the professionals like the Will-Burt Co.
Hans Laetz August 02, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Thank you Mr. Anonymous Internet Expert. I guess my years of buying, fixing, and driving out in the middle of the night to help the engineers retract stuck masts simply pales in comparison with your drive by observations. .
tony lozeau August 02, 2012 at 06:00 PM
does anyone have a pdf of this complaint by any chance?
Ben Dover August 02, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Hans, I sense your anger, it's not needed. I never claimed to be a TV technology maven.I also never claimed to be an expert on Lighting. This is America Hans, we are all entitled to freedom of speech and opinion. Your biggest problem is if people don't agree with your opinion they are wrong. Enough people in Malibu disagree with your opinions that's why you lost in the election.We are talking about Field Lights. It's apples and oranges. The Google Machine works well, it helps engineers like myself find products globally. FYI the tele mast I found do not have Diaphrams. They have synthetic bearings ( you can google those if you need the knowledge). When in there retracted state all bearing surfaces are sealed so the elements are not a problem. And I am an expert Hans, thats how I can afford to live on the beach in Malibu.......You should stick to what you know best, stop trying to get air pressure out of generators.
Hans Laetz August 02, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Not anger. Frustration. With anonymous cowards who claim to be experts. Been there, heard that.
Ben Dover August 02, 2012 at 07:07 PM
The school wouldn't even need a compressor, just have Hans come over and blow some more of that hot air he's known for.................Winning!
Jessica E. Davis August 02, 2012 at 07:11 PM
The PDF of the complaint is already attached to the article above.
tony lozeau August 02, 2012 at 09:40 PM
oops! sorry. thanks, jessica!
Marianne Riggins August 04, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Ben, why in the world would I be offended by you calling me a paper pusher? Just so you know, I’ve been involved in this process since 2009; I’m part of the lights fundraising committee & current president of the Athletic Booster Club at MHS. I have attended many public meetings about the lights, including ZORACES, Planning Commission, Coastal Commission & City Council. I have read many reports & learned a lot about light technology, inc. reports by Int’l Dark Skies that concurs that shorter poles does not mean better lighting. Having said that I would like to express my disappointment re the lawsuit that has been filed, since 2009 the opponents of this project have continually maintained a position of NO when it has come to the subject of use of any lights at Malibu High School. One of the biggest questions I have for MTC and Mr. Uhring is why are they saying there was an agreement for the use of temp lights? I don’t recall this being mentioned at the CCC hearing last year approving the change to the LCP to allow perm lights, at the City Council meeting in Dec accepting the amendment to the LCP for perm lights or in any of the letters prior the City Council meeting. Also, the possibility of the height of the poles has been known since 2009, why is it now being championed by you and others? Malibu, it is time to put this behind us, install the lights and let our kids play.
Marianne Riggins August 04, 2012 at 06:23 AM
Ryan, MUSCO happens to be one of the largest companies in the athletic field lighting in the US, the are a platinum corporate partner of Int'l Dark Skies, if they are not experts who is? http://www.darksky.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=485 You are also asking a CA public school to install technology that is unproven in it's use for field lighting.
Jo Ruggles August 04, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Hate to disagree with Ms. Riggins, but the school district's proposed project did NOT comply with the General Plan, LCP or Municipal Code, because there had to be a General Plan & LCP Amendment requesting a change in the Institutional Zone to allow the sports field lighting, because dark skies are to be maintained as a "priority" to minimize impacts to wildlife (CON IMP Measure 28), and all exterior lighting is required to be low intensity and shielded to reduce visibility from surrounding areas. This is especially true in western Malibu in order to maintain the rural character of the large, undeveloped open spaces of the area.
Jo Ruggles August 04, 2012 at 03:44 PM
You are correct Mr. Dover when you say that you were told that the only manufacture of telescopic lights was in Europe, and it was not an option. I was told the same thing by Laura Rosenthal the night of the council meeting while she was out in the lobby watching the agenda item on the TV screen. I had also asked her why the proposed project had changed from lower poles, less wattage and less nights of lighting to the current, massively increased project without public input, further staff evaluation and analysis of the changes being proposed or any explanation for using the same staff report for a totally different project, which is exactly what has happened here, and nobody seems to care that the process has been totally screwed up....again.
Jo Ruggles August 04, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Hans...please reconsider and temper your comments, since you obviously do not have all the pertinent facts. I do not know Mr. Dover, but I do know Ryan, and I can vouch for his expertise in all things electric, electronic, automotive, and even finance, having witnessed many such "expert" incidents at various venues and experienced it personally...all of which were spontaneous responses to queries or statements and none of them required the assistance of ",,,the Google machine." I doubt if he needs the Google machine, because he is a walking encyclopedia.
Bob Perkins DDS August 04, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Jo Ruggles said, "I do not know Mr. Dover, but" that is hilarious!!!!!.....how the man known as "Mr. Dover" has been granted the dignity of being called by his alias. That is awesome!!!.....even calling him "Ben" is hilarious but calling him, "Mr. Dover" is just too funny! Congrats to you "Mr. Dover", or may I call you "Ben"?
Marianne Riggins August 05, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I hesitate to disagree with Ms. Ruggles, I know she has been involved with this city far longer than I have and was instrumental in the creation of the General Plan, Municipal code and Local Coastal Program, but an amendment was not required to modify the General Plan. She is correct that amendments were required for both the LCP and the MMC and that process was started in 2009 when the first public meetings were held before the ZORACES committee and completed in Dec of 2011 when the city council accepted approved amendments during their regularly scheduled meeting.
Mark Hayes August 05, 2012 at 06:48 PM
The lawsuits made the Sunday LA Times. Another divisive circumstance in our community.
Marianne Riggins August 05, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Two public city council meetings were conducted in 2010 regarding this project, March 22 and April 12 and since this project required a LCP amendment a Coastal Commission hearing was conducted in Oct of 2011. An additional city council meeting was held in Dec 2011 accepting the CCC approval of the LCPA.
Marianne Riggins August 05, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Ben, since you solve complex engineering problems maybe you can help me with a visual question. Each one of these banks of lights are aprx. 7 ft by 13 ft, that is pretty big when you stand next to it, how large does that look from 500ft away? I am asking the question respectively, so we can all understand exactly what the visual impact will be. I also understand no matter how large or small it is the surrounding homes will have to look at them and that upsets them.
Hans Laetz August 05, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Jo, I respect R Y A N's considerable experience and expertise on many matters. He was an excellent servant to the city in many commissions, and I learn a lot from him every time he speaks about his excellent work on the city Telecommunications Commission. But his comments here are not grounded in experience or fact. In 25 years of working in LA television news, I have extensive experience with the very equipment --- telescoping masts --- that Ryan proposes for Malibu. In 2009, I contacted my old sales contacts at Willburt and the other manufacturers of telescoping masts as a part of the parents group working on this project. They all said that their products were not designed for permanent installation. They all said their products would not be recommended for this type of installation. It appears that an entire forest of these poles would be needed to provide lighting around the periphery of the field, and that none of the short lights would adequately illuminate the center of the field. The lighting experts we consulted -- the best in the field -- all said such an idea was impossible. Telescoping poles would require an entire team of mechanics, just like the ones I worked with at KTLA and KABC. I have personally had to drive to Red Box Junction in the middle of the night to retrieve a union news crew on golden time who were stranded because a WillBurt was stuck up in the air. Ryan says newer poles are better. Emphatically not true.
Hans Laetz August 05, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Jo, I love you, but it is my recollection that sports lights WERE NOT a part of the General Plan. In fact, I recall the City Council in 1998 specifically amending the Malibu Municipal Code to ban lighting in "sports COURTS" [an important point]. The LCP that was imposed by the Coastal Commission in 2002 banned school lights, and that was only because Sara Wan argued that the definition of "sports COURTS" includes high school track stadiums -- something her own staff lawyer told her was overreach. For those who are so offended that the lights violate the city's maximum structure height of 18 feet, the fact of the matter is that there are thousands of poles all over Malibu that violate height, setback and other limits. They are called power poles, flagpoles, etc. The city lightpoles on PCH violate that supposed rule. The simple fact is there is no height limit on institutional-zoning poles. The school lights comply in every way with the General Plan and LCP. Viewed from anywhere off property, dark skies will be maintained as a "priority" to minimize impacts to wildlife, and all exterior lighting will be low intensity and shielded to eliminate visibility from surrounding areas.
Hans Laetz August 05, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Yes, once again, Malibu narcissism and whining makes us a laughingstock in the rest of the world. Doc, I do not know Mr. Dover either, but I think I went out once with his sister, Voice.
Craig Strachan August 05, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Hans is pretty persuasive on this issue. In fact, I now think of him as "Hans Lights".


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