Malibu High School will get improved technology and facilities due to a multi-faceted compromise over lighting hammered out Monday by the Malibu Planning Commission.
In a 4-0 vote following a nearly five-hour hearing, commissioners approved the Malibu High School Campus Improvement Project with restrictions placed on lighting. Newly elected Chair Jeffrey Jennings recused himself from the vote early on because he lives near the high school.
"The amount of energy and time put into this is incredible," Commissioner Mikke Pierson said. "I really appreciate the community input."
Both Pierson and Commissioner John Mazza said they wanted to approve a project that would not be appealed to the Malibu City Council by either the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District or the high school's neighbors.
The commission approved the project, with these restrictions:
- Lighting for a new 150-space parking lot near the Boys and Girls Club with three motion sensor sensitive zones. One of the three zones will be open for daily use year round. A physical barrier will be put in place between the other parking zones with closure at 8 p.m.
- The entire 150-space parking lot will be open for the same 16 nights as the 70-foot athletic field lights and an additional 15 nights for special events.
- The two other parking lots will apply as closely as possible to the same technology and lighting restrictions as the upper 150-space parking lot.
- The remaining lights on campus will be LEED fixtures.
- All the lighting restrictions will be under a one-year review period, which will be revisited by the Malibu Planning Commission.
Just before the vote, Cami Winikoff, who has led a lawsuit against 70-foot athletic field lights, and SMMUSD officials tentatively agreed to the terms of the compromise.
As part of a new lighting plan unveiled earlier this month, the district proposed to reduce lighting across the campus by 65 percent as recommended by an International Dark Sky expert.
“I would like to say I’ve looked at what was proposed in August. The school district has done a tremendous job decreasing lighting in that upper parking lot and lighting overall at the school,” Commissioner Roohi Stack said.
The project calls for new classrooms, a library, computer and science labs and an administrative building, totaling 20,274 square feet. The main building will also include "green roofs," which are meant to reduce storm water runoff and provide an outdoor learning space, according to the SMMUSD website.
The project was originally approved without lighting in the 150-space parking lot and modifications on a right-hard turn lane, and landscaping in August. Planning commissioners opted to reopen the hearing to allow time for the Santa Monica-Malibu School District to meet with the California Division of the State Architect to discuss lighting requirements for parking lots.
During the hearing Monday, MHS Principal Jerry Block said the school is in need of improvements.
“Our school is not just a school," Block said. "It is a community center.”
The project is the result of Measure BB, which voters passed in 2006. Nearly $33.5 million is earmarked for Malibu High School.