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Council OKs 70-Foot High School Lights

Both proponents and opponents of the project gave emotional pleas to the council, including many student athletes.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Malibu City Council approved two permits for 70-foot-tall lights at the athletic fields at .

Following a nearly five-hour public hearing that featured as many as 70 speakers, the council granted a coastal development permit and a temporary use permit for the construction of the lights, which will only be allowed during certain times.

Malibu Mayor Laura Zahn Rosenthal and Councilmember Skylar Peak were absent for the vote because of conflicts of interest.

“You guys are going to be recalled,” one woman called out as she left the council chamber following the vote. Another man threatened a lawsuit as he exited.

In response to feedback from neighbors of the high school, the council made several changes to the schedule for the lights, which will be allowed:

  • Until 7:30 p.m. during Pacific Standard Time (the first Sunday in November to the second Sunday in March) for 45 days;
  • Until 10:30 pm. up to 16 times (but never on two consecutive nights and no more than two nights in one week) from Sept. 1 to May 31.

Originally, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District had sought 18 days from September to May and 57 days during Pacific Standard Time for the use of the lights.

The council also required that the high school only use the night time lights for MHS athletic events, meaning no groups outside of the school will have use of the field at night. In addition, 12-foot cross bars on the lights will be required to come down by June 1 through August 31. The light poles will remain up.

Councilman John Sibert said he made the suggestion for the temporary removal of the light fixtures to help lessen the impact on ocean views on surrounding homes.

"These are important community events. For that reason I think it is important we have some night time sports," Sibert said.

Councilwoman Joan House said she did her best to listen to all sides over the past several weeks as she was flooded with emails, letters and phone calls.

"This has been very difficult for everybody here. It’s been an issue that people are very passionate about. I listened very carefully and that’s the decision I made tonight," House said.

Conflicts of interest

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.

During the meeting on Monday, Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin said Rosenthal and Peak had to be recused from the discussion because of conflicts of interest.

According to Hogin, Rosenthal also donated funds to The Shark Fund.

“That constitutes evidence of an unacceptable probability of bias in favor of the project," Hogin said.

Hogin said Peak sent an email to the California Coastal Commission over a year ago outlining a preference for temporary poles. Rosenthal and Peak both left the council chamber for the hearing and watched it from a TV broadcasting the council meeting in the hallway.

Attorney Frank Angel, who said he was speaking on behalf of the Malibu Township Council and several resident of Malibu Park, challenged the recusal of planning commissioners because of their donations.

Angel called on the council to do the right thing and "refer this back to the planning commission.”

More planned improvements

The proposed Malibu High School Lights Project is separate from a proposed improvement project at the high school.

That plan, which will go before the Malibu Planning Commission on Aug. 7, calls for a new building, a renovated library and a new and expanded parking lot. The new parking lot could include 17, 18-foot lights. The expanded parking lot could get up to 13 new light poles.

Hans Laetz July 01, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Carla, you bring a welcome human touch to the cold hard electrons. I really, honestly don't think we've sunk anywhere close to pie fight levels. But I am sorry to disappoint you.
Terry July 01, 2012 at 07:02 PM
if there was no preserve movement 1. we would have a harbor at the pch and temescal canyon 2. we would have a railroad running thru malibu 3. we would have a nuclear power plant at deer creek 4. we would have no city 5. we would have no height restrictions 6. we would have no view protection isnt progress great.
J. Flo July 01, 2012 at 07:35 PM
You can add endless more averted Malibu disasters to that list. I honor and consider those who have fought to preserve Malibu, and cities across the world, for so long to be nothing short of heroes. People right here on both sides of this debate. They have my gratitude forever. I hope we all live consciously, limiting our footsteps, leaving the world as beautiful and healthy as we found it - if not better. Leaving this rare miracle of Malibu to this generation of kids and to the next is just plain fair. Most times within deep conversations - better solutions are found. Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. Let's always keep that baby safe. Hope everyone read this, so inspiring! http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-margot-feuer-20120629,0,6731924.story
Hans Laetz July 01, 2012 at 07:36 PM
If it takes 150 posts we will get Tucson spelled right.
Susan Tellem July 01, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Yes a pie fight! How fun! I'm in. Sheriff helicopter circling Bonsall. Weekends in Malibu.
Bob Perkins DDS July 01, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Carla Respectfully, I have learned a ton from listening to people like Hans...the guy is an encyclopedia. I have always valued hearing the passions pleas if people like Terry, and Jae, and Marianne, and many others. Terry's last entry was very valuable. He stated that efforts (like the one he has helped stage against the lights) are what has kept Malibu from being abused and exploited. Those are words if wisdom. I applaud that perserverance! We are on slightly different sides of this issue but that doesn't mean I can't learn or be inspired by him, nor does it mean that we won't stand together in many other issues. The Patch is a great public service. It is invaluable for its variety of perspectives and for its from which all citizens if this town can communicate in "real" time..... We don't have to always agree, but with help from Patch, we can all better understand!!!
Hans Laetz July 01, 2012 at 08:17 PM
You can add to that list: 1. No water system. There were HUGE battles fought by Malibu residents against county water for years. 2. No high school. People fought that for years. In fact, some people fought the creation of the elementary schools. 3. No PCH. The owner of Malibu fought that for years. Went all the way to the Supreme Court. 4. No building codes. Yes, there was a time when Malibu people fought the county tooth and nail from imposing a building code in Malibu. It was "the end of the Malibu way," one guy told the Malibu Times in 1955. 5. Uh, we had a railroad in Malibu, and it fell apart due to gravity. The school board and Musco Lighting then recycled the rails to build Rindge Dam. That is a joke. Terry, I admire you. So far you have thrown every piece of spaghetti on the wall to see what will stick.
Hans Laetz July 01, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Sheriff says there was a simultaneous trifecta of weekend Malibu events: (1) Near drowning. (2) Car into pole, PCH at Heathercliff. (3) Lost person, who needed directions yelled at them from the chopper.
Bob Perkins DDS July 01, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Hans- don't forget that I fought the hard fight to bring back Covered Wagons (and horse drawn carriages) as the only allowed form of transportation in Malibu...Measure Z. We got the horse lovers vote but we lost those who needed to get to a pharmacy in less than 4 hours. I am also a Founding Member of the MAS....the Malibu Amish Society. We have worked hard to return Malibu to a "hunter/gatherer" community...no more stores, or shops of any kind. We were gathering momentum but then Cher thought it would promote more people wearing fur....that was the end of that.* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmHbu2VC6UA&feature=related *no issue is so serious that we can't take time to make humor when the dust has settled....this is such a time, perhaps.
John Mazza July 01, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Bob--I think wikipedia is a better description.
Bob Perkins DDS July 01, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Hey guys....this thread has (196) comments. Subway restaurants has offered that if we hit (200) we will all get a free 6" sub of our choice* *bacon and avocado is $1.00 extra if you want it... please submit (4) more posts on this thread....Jae...just one inspiration and you are good for (4)...put us over the hump and let all of Malibu bask in subs from Malibu Subway.
Adam Smith July 01, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Bob, you should know better. Subway is evil. Every bite of one of their sandwiches gnaws away another piece of Malibu's soul. It is a locally owned franchise, but that's not good enough for the Preserve people on here - I guess because it somehow smears a bitter tasting corporate ethos on every sub...
Bob Perkins DDS July 01, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Hans I had no idea you were from Twosan.
Steve Uhring July 01, 2012 at 11:43 PM
i hope this is the 200th post and Bob gets his free sub. I was sent a video which I have posted above, In this video your Mayor Laura Rosenthal,explains her position on the lights.to the Malibu Park Residents Enjoy!
Bob Perkins DDS July 02, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Steve - you are a good sport! yours was the 199th post, though. (this) is the 200th post....that may stand for awhile. Subs for everyone .....chips and drink not included
Steve July 02, 2012 at 02:03 AM
The video is yet again a bit of duplicity on the part of the homeowners. It reflects the 2009 proposal, which was thoroughly vetted and rejected due to all the considerations that are presented in the 500+ pages of reports available on the city's website, Anyone who thinks it's a win is just revealing that they haven't taken the time to examine those documents, or are purposely being misleading. not sure why people here are talking about looking for a solution - this is a done deal. Permits are approved and its moving forward. Done.
Carla July 02, 2012 at 02:35 AM
I don't see a link for the video--did I miss it?
Steve Uhring July 02, 2012 at 02:38 AM
The video is posted at the top of this page, Here is another link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MVb9uzuYEI&feature=youtu.be
Hans Laetz July 02, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Thank yoy, Capt. FUD. Fear, Uncertainty, Disinformation. You all know of course that she was talking about the late night games? Not the evening games? You also know that just 16 football games limits the lights to males, and not females? Is such sex discrimination acceptable to you? Our realize, of course, that a 16 night per year "solution" is illegal under Title IX? As well as a giant f--- you to the girls of Malibu, who deserve equal opportunity to excel at spots like their brothers ... It's not a done deal, Steve. Mr. Uhring is seeking community buy-in for the lawsuit he is contemplating against the children of Malibu High School, and their parents. Mr, Uhring is seeking the moral authority for the anti-school, anti-child, anti-social crusade upon which he has staked his ego. First, he tried to shut down the Kiwanis carnival. Then. The temporary lights. Now, the permanent lights and the dozens of concessions that the kids and the parents and the schools have agreed to. And to do that, he just take a video out of context to discredit Mayor Rosenthal. Congratulations, Steve, you have outdone Fox News with your out of context video snip.
Marianne Riggins July 02, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Jae, unfortunately through this 3-6 year process the opponents have maintained the position of no lights. When the district came forward with the proposal to add permanent lights to the field it was meet with the answer of no and the position that the temp lights that had been used for several years were illegal. That led to the Coastal hearing in 2009 to allow them and where it was maintained that lights on school property were not allowed, even though coastal staff supported them. Since then there have been numerous meetings, where the opponent’s position has still maintained a position of no lights. It is very difficult to know what is the best solution for the neighbor's (taller poles, less spill vs. shorter poles, more spill) when opponents continue to maintain the position of no. Coastal's requirement was that the best technology needed to be used, taller poles provide that, less spill and glare, the downside is the poles are more visible during daytime hours. The 70 ft poles allow for the light to be directed on the field and even in our weather conditions the best possible solution for sky glow and spill. I encourage everyone to read the city staff report, please. I agree that we need to come together as a community, but the only way to do that is that everyone needs to compromise and find common ground. A position of no will never achieve that.
J. Flo July 02, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Marianne, thank you for explaining! Will still hold out some hope -
scott greco July 02, 2012 at 06:26 AM
steve is only highlighting that the mayor at some point realized that 16 nights of temp lights was a win/win common ground solution that the children and community could both live with. 16 nights gives 8 night games for boys and 8 night games for girls. all other sports can be played during the day as with many schools. keep in mind of the 10 schools that malibu plays against only 1 has permanent lights, 1 has temp lights and the others play at their nearby colleges. With Pepperdine's plans this also could have been a good solution, but we continue to disregard the preservation of what is most beautiful and valuable about malibu.
Marianne Riggins July 02, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Scott, you are right that many of the schools Malibu plays against are able to use nearby colleges, but when and if Pepperdine will ever get their stadium built is a big question. Many in Malibu are raising concerns about what the improvements will do to not just their neighborhood, but general traffic and safety in Malibu. Additionally Malibu doesn't just compete against schools on the field but also in the admissions dept. The fact is that we are losing Malibu families to neighboring schools in part because we do not have lights on our field. Those losses are not just football players, but their brothers and sisters who may be involved in arts, music and student government, not to mention general student population. Malibu High is a fantastic school academically, just look at where are graduates are going to college, and these lights will allow us to offer a well-rounded experience for all our kids.
scott greco July 02, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Marianne, Academically MHS appears to be an amazing school, however, it is unrealistic to assume that a lit field will attract enough students to offset the 40% decline in student enrollment over the next 10yrs predicted by the school district itself. The extraordinary expense, damage to the environment and the neighborhood, is simply not justifiable. Temporary lights get it done in a way that is acceptable to most people on both sides that are willing to seek a compromise for the good of all. The current proposal is not a compromise, it is an end run around the neighborhood's reasonable objections. Also, the same general traffic and safety concerns you note applying to the Pepperdine project, also apply to the MHS Lighting project.
Marshall Thompson July 02, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Scott, that is precisely my position.
Marshall Thompson July 02, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I always thought it reasonable and fair that the kids could have roughly 16 days including homecoming. The industrialization of the Malibu Park skyline and impact on night skies is neither fair nor reasonable in my opinion. We have huge support for a view protection and restoration ordinance in this City and these 70 light standards and cross arms loaded with high-tech lighting gear are not magically invisible.
Bob Perkins DDS July 02, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Marshall- did you get your free Sub?
CORI LOWE July 03, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Spoiled Rotten Why do kids rule the roost? July 2nd New Yorker Magazine Everyone should read this article by UCLA Anthropologist who studies 35 middle class families in Los Angeles. " With the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming Dynasty and the dauphins of pre-revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world" Highly recommended article, can be read on line.
CORI LOWE July 03, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I agree with that! We should be embarrassed to be spending this money at a time of budget cuts and reduced programs and teacher lay offs all over the state but then to benefit of a small number of students! The parents who funded this special interest project should contribute the same amount to a project now for the rest of the students.
Terry July 03, 2012 at 11:12 PM
light spill on to what? the blacktop between the pool and the field or the bleechers on the other side of the field. 70 foot poles is garbage science. $112 per hour for electricity is just a lie. There are no animals in malibu park bs. the city attorney r u kidding me. the mayor wants to be president of the school board and mark kelly knew when to abandon ship.

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