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Judge Allows Limited Field Lighting for Football Games

The Malibu High School football team will be allowed to play its Oct. 26 homecoming game under lights.

A judge ruled Friday that the Malibu High School football team will be able to play its Oct. 26 homecoming game at night, under the school's new field lights.

Under a temporary restraining order issued Friday by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant, the lights can be installed and turned on for football games, including the homecoming game versus Fillmore High School, but not for any other sports or events at this time, according to Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin.

Hogin said the lights will be allowed for games until Nov. 8, when Chalfant will hold the first hearing pertaining to a lawsuit that seeks to block permanent lighting from being used for night games.

"It is the opportunity for the [school] district and the city to respond to the plaintiff's request to prevent poles installed and light use during [the] lawsuit," Hogin said. "... Although obviously the court's decision to allow the poles to go up now suggests that plaintiffs may not have been able to prove their complaints outweigh the value of the limited use of lights the city approved in the coastal development permit, which is the subject of the lawsuit."

The lawsuit, filed in July by the Malibu Community Preservation Alliance and the Malibu Township Council, claims the lights will alter the rural characteristics of Western Malibu. Parents and community members have said the lights are needed to improve the athletic experience at the school and to provide a place for families to watch games after the end of the workday.  

In June, the Malibu City Council granted a coastal development permit and a conditional use permit for the installation of the 70-foot-high lights, limiting their use to a maximum of 61 nights a year.

“It is very exciting that our homecoming celebration will be under lights,” said Seth Jacobson, a member of the steering committee for the “Bring on the Lights” campaign.

“The hundreds of parents and businesses that contributed to the lights campaign are very excited that the lights will finally be a reality," Jacobson said. "We also take the plaintiffs at their word that they will be back in court on Nov. 8, and between now and then we stand ready to find a permanent resolution to this issue that is in the best interests of the Malibu community."

Councilwoman Laura Zahn Rosenthal, who said she was speaking for herself and not on behalf of the city, said she is excited for the Malibu community that has worked so hard for the kids.

"This has been a long journey and the school community has won at every turn," Rosenthal said. "The school groups were willing to compromise and did so many times. The lights will go up and I have every expectation that they will stay up for the soccer and lacrosse seasons. I hope that everyone - no matter what side of the issue you may be on - will join us in a wonderful community celebration on Oct. 26." 

Cami Winikoff, a Malibu Park resident who is among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, confirmed the terms of the temporary restraining order and said she believes it is a win-win for all parties.

“We’ve been working all through the night to get a compromise out of court,” Winikoff said. “We wanted to figure out how to get the lights up for these games so we could continue to work [toward a compromise].”

She said the temporary restraining order begins to address neighbors’ concerns about the impact of the poles on ocean views and the lights on the neighborhood's dark skies.

“For us, the big thing is that we got the representation in court that the installed poles are removable," she said. "That is the first component of what we are trying to settle on."

Winiknoff said she believes the issuance of the temporary restraining order shows the judge "saw the merits of the case."

“We’re hopeful the community can now reach a reasonable compromise where the students get lighted athletic fields and the community gets extended periods of dark skies and no poles,” Winikoff said.

Hans Laetz October 21, 2012 at 01:06 AM
The "Norman Rockwell-esque depiction" that you smirk at was -- seriously -- enjoyed by those of us who attended those night games. And now the courts have joined the city council and the Coastal Commission in deciding that the small but real impact on neighbors -- BUT NOT ON THE ENVIRONMENT -- is a good thing. The commission found practically no impact on the environment whatsoever. Just like at the lagoon, a certain whiney faction of Malibu equates "I don't like it" with "environmental impact." Perhaps if you had children and were part of the Malibu school community you would understand. My kids are grown, but I will forever remember the years my girls got to cheer, sell pizza, or just goof off at the MHS night games.
Marshall Thompson October 21, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Steve, why is yours the only vision of a rural America that is allowed? Can't we preserve a small sliver of California's coastline that is not commercialized?
Hans Laetz October 21, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Lights at Malibu High are some sort of commercialization? Are they going to blink "Drink Coke" in Morse Code? Missed that.
R Y A N October 21, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Hans, you too fail to make a correlation between community spirit and the impacts of light pollution. I maintain that they are not related, and you keep trying to dig up dirt on everyone that has no relevance. Did I forget to send you a thank-you card?
Hans Laetz October 21, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Thank you for endorsing Zan Marquis' parking garage at Point Dume. Card's in the mail.
Lester Tobias October 21, 2012 at 02:38 PM
And then, of course, there are those of us that see this as the School District welching on an unofficial, un-codified promise. Oh, wait! It WAS codified until a tiny little sentence was slipped into a much larger zone text amendment packet in February, 2012, that allowed for light standards in institutional zones to be unrestricted in height. This created the first ever category of second class homeowners in Malibu, those whose primary views are not protected from encroachment by structures over 18 feet in height. The only "power play" I see in this was the cramming of that one sentence down the throats of the residents of Malibu Park, especially those that live on the rim.
Gwen Lucoff October 21, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Yes, but the majority of the communities that you discribe, don't have the lights blocking the views from the properties that people paid top dollar to have the views. I just think it's so sad, that all this money is being spent on lights that will only be used one night a week for only 20 weeks of the year. I think the money should be spent on paying our teacher's better wages for teaching our children.
Hans Laetz October 21, 2012 at 09:51 PM
C'mon, Gwen, you and I both know that the lights will be used three nights a week, during three of the four darkest winter months, until 7 pm for girls soccer and other sports. This will make an enormous positive change for our kids. Night games mean working parents can attend, and fewer class disruptions for away games. Meanwhile, you and your husband have reaped the benefits of living next to a large vacant, parklike green space that has been marked on the plot maps since 1952 as a high school site. You are a Realtor and you know that full well. I also think it is sad that NIMBYs have forced such draconian limits on the lights use. That is what it is. Wait a minute. Are you saying you are willing to let the lights be used more often? I think we should stick to the major compromise that the school community has already agreed to.
Marianne Riggins October 22, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Actually the height limit language was removed March 2010, since that time there have been 3 public meetings regarding this project including a Coastal Commission hearing Oct 2011 and City Council Dec 2011 when the LCPA and MTA were accepted by the city. The overall concern expressed by neighbors has been the amount of light spill, glow and glare the lights would produce, the LCP and MMC both require that the best technology be used to protect the neighborhood from those things, taller poles do that. The International Dark Skies organization recognizes that pole height should not be limited, because when you do spill, glow and glare increase.
Marianne Riggins October 22, 2012 at 03:06 AM
The City of Malibu and the school district have a Joint Use Agreement, as outlined in the General Plan, to use the school property as a way to provide the community recreational opportunities for residents of Malibu. If use was ever proposed to be expanded it would only happen after residents supported it and a LCPA and ZTA were approved by both the City of Malibu and the Coastal Commission.
Hans Laetz October 22, 2012 at 04:21 PM
So now, you say the kids were selling BEER at the field? Wow.
Just Wondering... October 22, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Speaking of sad, I think it is sad that a lot of people in Malibu view kids and their activities as just noisy and annoying, and make great efforts to ban or restrict them, or make them "go away." Apparently, the Malibu way is that since you have been here for a long time or paid a lot of money to live here, you must have complete silence and no one who is not from your neighborhood ever come by to do anything near you, even for a couple of hours a week. The only activities that are welcomed and acceptable for children are hiking or surfing. Any other organized outdoor activities (football, soccer, baseball, etc.) where children and parents gather are viewed as loud, annoying activities that must be moved away or banned. Some people at the City brag about what a great job they did getting Trancas Park built. There are no soccer goals, and there is no baseball diamond, but it sure is a nice, flat grass field (which makes it a heck of a lot better of a "park" than that disaster of a joke of a hilly weed field called Legacy Park). One minor detail should be noted amid all the back-slapping about great Trancas Park - no one who really wants to, or needs to, use the park is allowed to do so. Apparently, AYSO soccer is banned there. Why? It's too noisy and annoying for nearby residents. Guess what else just got banned there - Little League baseball practice. Why? Too noisy and annoying. (cont.)
Just Wondering... October 22, 2012 at 07:36 PM
There are no playing fields at $25 million Legacy Park. All physical activity is prohibited there. In all of Malibu, the only field that Malibu Little League has for practices and games is Bluffs Park. "Parks" were built at Trancas and the Civic Center, but no baseball or soccer fields were built, and no teams are allowed to use those parks. Neighbors won't tolerate nuisances such as children at play. It's the same story with the lights at MHS. The arguments in Malibu against kids activities are either fake environmental or exaggeration. If we agree to 61 nights of lights until 7 pm or 10 pm, soon the lights will be on all night, 365 days a year, and then MGM will build a casino on Zuma Beach and Malibu will end and will become Las Vegas! If we allow baseball at Trancas, then the Dodgers might start playing their home games there! All owls would die instantly and we'd have to deal with 40,000 fans at Trancas every night! Guess what. Families live in Malibu. Families have children. Normal children do more than only surf or hike. They play sports and are part of teams. They need a small amount of field space to do so. There is plenty of untouched, unspoiled, virgin land in Malibu. It would not affect anything if there was one baseball diamond at Legacy Park or Trancas Park, other than locals having to deal with the annoying laughter of kids running and playing nearby for a few hours on fall and spring Saturdays. How embarrassing for our "community" that people are so selfish.
scott greco October 25, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Pete, Your comments directed towards my wife were uncalled for. If you want to discuss the merits of the MCA suit, then do so. i don't believe you were present during the negotiations, so if you are interested in the facts you can read todays issue of the Surfside News. Other than that, do not mention my wife by name in any of your future attempts to wage a smear campaign against her or any of the people of the Malibu community.
Hans Laetz October 25, 2012 at 06:21 PM
What comments were made "towards" your wife? Your wife spoke to Patch, people here reacted to what she said. You and your wife moved to Malibu Park in 2011. Those of us already here have been "compromising" and "negotiating" since 2008. The school kids and parents had already made drastic concessions when you arrived here and filed suit. It is categorically wrong to say that you and your lawyers arriving on the scene brought about a compromise. In fact, you won nothing, except costing the city and district taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Judge Chalfant looked at your pleading for a preliminary injunction and found that you didn't make a plausible case. The trial will cost more money and -- guess what --- it's still a BS lawsuit. Like Pete said, the battle is behind us. Welcome to our neighborhood, sincerely. Let's work together to make sure the school is operated to the kids' and the neighborhood's benefit.
scott greco October 25, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Consider a "small amount of field space", a 1,300 person stadium with 72,000 watts (15,000 full moons) of lighting on 4 - 70 ft. poles, behind your home. Now consider that this happens after written assurances at the school's inception that there would be no night lights (please play as many day games as possible) and a deed restriction on these lights that was imposed by the coastal commission until last years amendment. Make no mistake...this is a taking of tens of millions of dollars of Malibu park residents home values. This, in a city that until the amendment, protected ALL Malibu home values equally. Now one group of Malibu home owners are being singled out to take the financial impact at the behest of another group of Malibu home owners (the shark fund "bring on the lights" donors.) So who exactly is behaving selfishly? Malibu Park residents love our children no less than you love your children.
Hans Laetz October 25, 2012 at 07:27 PM
First, you do not speak for Malibu Park, many Malibu Park residents -- some living next door to the schools -- support the lights. Second, you purchased your home in 2011, AFTER the lights had been approved by most of the regulatory agencies. Third, ALL Malibu home values are dramatically inflated by a vibrant, successful school district. Just ask the people just over the line who can't get it. And the educational mission of our local schools must include a full slate of offering. We are losing kids to other schools because they have lights. Our community cannot afford that. That parcel behind your house has been marked on the Malibu Park subdivision maps as a high school site since 1952. Lights have been proposed there since 2008. The economic loss angle most certainly has not been established as anything other than scare tactics in this case. If you failed to do due diligence in purchasing your home, do not blame the children of Malibu who deserve to have a full-service school. No one challenges the love of your children, Scott, and to imply otherwise is specious.
Just Wondering... October 25, 2012 at 08:45 PM
The "1,300 person stadium" will be empty of fans at night 350+ days a year, and the "72,000 watts" will be off at night over 300 nights a year, and will be turned off early in the evening most nights they are used. And what is the argument against kids playing an organized sport at Trancas or Legacy Park (other than their being arrested for doing so at the latter)? Is it also a decrease in property value? Is that how all decisions should be made in Malibu? Lastly, the point is not about whether you care about your own children. It is about whether you find the reasonable, normal needs and activities of children that are not yours annoying and view them as a nuisance that should be silenced, restricted or kept away from you.
Gwen Lucoff October 25, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I have no problems with the kids being on the school fields, I don't even hear them anymore. And Saturday is the only really noisy day anyway, and that will be over in a matter of weeks. I have a problem with the kids and thier parents not picking up the trash, and other stuff they leave after thier activities. I've requested several times for the soccer people to provide more trash cans, and I've also asked the school. the problem is regardless of more trash cans, the school and city don't have the manpower to keep them emptied. There were beer bottles on the baseball bleacher for 4 weeks before anybody cleaned them up. I didn't clean them up, because I wanted to see how long it would take someone to do it, 4 weeks is a long time for 5 empty bottle of beer to sit there. One year it took 4 days for anybody to clean up the trash from homecoming, and that's when we had the temp lights up. So it will be interesting to see how long it takes for someone to clean the fields up after this friday's activities. (including the parking lots) I will be keeping track of how many times the lights are going to be on and for the lengh of time that they are kept on and used. It's sad that no agreement can be counted on to be left as agreed upon, it's been proven that all it takes is people with big mouths and deep pockets to change things in the city of Malibu. Sad but true. I'll post pictures of the after homecoming mess, just FYI
John Mazza October 25, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Hans, you claim to be the expert here but I must object to your statement "The Malibu Township Council president (not the MTC itself) (and just exactly as I just said) also tried to shut down the Chili Cookoff because of the noise. Boo hoo.". I am the President of the Malibu Township Council and have been for years. I NEVER EVER tried to shut down the Chili Cookoff and am in fact a friend of John Payola who organizes the cook off. Where you get your facts I do not know but you should think before you make such false statements. Why you continue to fabricate "facts" I have no idea but it does not do your cause any good to lie about the actions of a group that has for over 65 years tried to protect the Malibu we love. Why do you criticize Cami for being a new resident ? I have lived here for 40 years and I do not think I have any more rights that a new resident.
Hans Laetz October 25, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Some would call people affecting change "democracy," Gwen.
Hans Laetz October 25, 2012 at 09:59 PM
The Malibu Township Council has led the fight against the school lights, and is a plaintiff in the lawsuit that you just lost. Great accomplishment, President Mazza. If Steve Urhrig merely represented the Malibu Township Council in its fight against the lights, as opposed to being its president, that would be a difference without distinction. The fact of the matter is that he represented the public position of the MTC over four years in trying to block the lights. I didn't attack Cami for being a new resident, as even the exalted president of the MTC should be able to plainly read. I'll make it very clear for you, John: I said her lawsuit was BS, which the judge appears to have agreed. I also said it takes a lot of nerve to arrive in the middle of this and then claim that there was no compromise or negotiation, when the school community has given, given, given. Bottom line: the lights are there. Go look at them and tell me again how they ruin Malibu
Hans Laetz October 25, 2012 at 10:01 PM
And let me add my congratulations to the MTC on blocking AYSO at Trancas Park. That was a real accomplishment, too.
Gwen Lucoff October 25, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Mr Laetz it appears that you have a comment for anybody and any thing, to bad I don't see you out there picking up trash, instead of trashing people for thier opinions and hard work, whether you agree with them or not. I doubt if you would say what you write to people if you were face to face with them. I'll look for you on Friday night after the game and see if you are helping to clean up the mess that will be left after the big event.
Gwen Lucoff October 25, 2012 at 10:35 PM
the lights fixturs are there, and it's not a pretty sight, I can't wait till they take them down after this nights event. drive to the end of clover heights and see for yourself how the light fixtures make the view more beautiful for everybody. God forbid if they need to use the school for a fire staging area, now the choppers have 4 more obsticles to watch out for while trying to land on the fields.
Hans Laetz October 25, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Ms. Lucoff, you and your husband "Terry" regularly emerge in these columns to trash the school, trash the "city counsel" and trash whomever you want. I support you doing that. But you should not be surprised if someone answers.
scott greco October 25, 2012 at 10:48 PM
here's some more facts... My wife and i have lived in Malibu for 12 years. We purchased our current home in april- 6 months prior to the lighting restriction being removed in october. There are 471 homes in Malibu Park- less than 5% have donated to the lights. I have seen the list, I'd be happy to share it with you. I can also share pictures of homes who's views have now been devastated with these lights. Make no mistake, home values WILL decrease. Children do not annoy my wife and I. Please read the surfside news article today for more facts from Cami. Hans, even though we disagree, I want to thank you for your kind words about me and my wife in your earlier posting. We have both supported you fully in your Trancas lighting issue and never once said you should be stuck with more light because you bought near a shopping plaza. It's hard for me to understand why you can't respect that we also want less light in our neighborhood. There are reasonable solutions for both Trancas and for Malibu Park. We ask that you support a compromise where kids have some lit games and we protect what's beautiful about our neighborhood just like you are trying to protect yours. I really think it's important that we all work together to protect what's intrinsically valuable about Malibu.
Gwen Lucoff October 25, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Sir, my name is Mrs Lucoff to you, and my husband and I might be on these list regularly to comment, but we are also both out there either picking up trash or maintaining the plants that we have donated that line the end of cloverheights, I use the school every day, and I do my best to bring to the schools attention any needed maintance, such as broken sprinklers, if not fixed are almost as tall as a yellowstone geiser, and waste lots of water, I wish all that wasted money would go to paying our teachers instead of running into the drain and down to the ocean. Like I said before, I can't wait till they take the lights down when not in use, so I don't have to look at them every daylight hour of the day.
Hans Laetz October 25, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Thank you. And I have supported MHS neighbors on their legitimate complaints about noise, trash, traffic and light pollution from the school. Since 2009, I have been at meetings demanding that SMMUSD enact dark skies policies. From the very start of discussions over Measure BB, in 2009, I was telling the SMMUSD people that they had to get their house in order at MHS and Juan Cabrillo. The SMMUSD has been infuriating. The lighting plan they came up with last summer ignored the findings by parent volunteers and others . If they had listened to us, and come up with what the city is now demanding anyway, they would have their permits already. At Trancas, I spoke publicly and wrote that the lighting plan appeared to be aimed at lots of low-intensity, low-height fixtures -- a laudable goal. I said the large amount of illumination of the side walls of the shopping center was a problem. And I said the existing gas station glare was a problem that still needs fixing. The city staff informally agreed. The developer is going back to redesign,. I am confidant everyone will be happy.
John Mazza October 26, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Again, you should check your facts. Most of what you said here is not true.

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