Court Ruling Says ‘Turn on the Lights’ at Point Loma High School … But …

by on June 30, 2017 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Is it true that Point Loma High School is the only high school in the district without stadium lights?

While this question is mulled, know this, the stadium lights controversy at Point Loma High School just reached a legal plateau with a recent Superior Court ruling that was in support of the school and the lights. Oh, the lights, the lights!

But still it may not all be over …

This simmering dispute has been going on for years, with the school, its principal and parents of students and former students voicing support for the lights on one side, while neighbors have fumed about the lights and other planned changed in complaints of future neighborhood disruptions, loss of parking and higher crime.

The lights are part of a larger package of improvements to the area’s only public high school, a school that has stood its ground for 92 years. Most of the elements of the package are not part of the controversy.

PLHS bleachers. Screen capture NBC7

So, to briefly recap, the San Diego school board voted in May of 2016 to approve the package. Here’s part of our report 5/25/16:

Tuesday night, May 24th, the school board voted to approve bright lights and other improvements to Point Loma High School which include a new library, despite opposition from some local residents.

In an unanimous vote, the San Diego Unified School District Board moved forward on the improvements,which include:

  • 7 new poles with speakers mounted at the top;
  • Four 70 foot light poles around the field;
  • four 20-foot light poles in the grandstands;
  • a new classroom building
  • a new library
  • upgrades to existing campus structures.

Part of the stadium upgrades plan includes a use-policy that limits night time events to 18 per year. And the stadium improvements will take 9 months …

When the project package was passed by the school board, it was anticipated then that construction would begin during 2016.

Well, it didn’t. A group of local neighbors formed Pro-Point Loma and filed a lawsuit in Superior Court to stop the overhaul of the stadium. Seventeen plaintiffs argued the renovation will encourage hundreds of people to flood a quiet community.

But some are happy with the recent court ruling – even though the controversy may not be over, as Pro-Point Loma has 2 months in which to file an appeal.

Point Loma High School Principal Hans Becker is happy for now the stadium that can handle the large crowds can finally move forward. He said:

“Point Loma has been around for 92 years and it’s never had permanent lights.”

Becker is also happy for now – with the addition of lighted events – students will be encouraged to participate in high school sports, brightening a more-rounded total experience while at the school.

In the past, parents have also voiced support for the lights. One parent stated:

“All children should have the opportunity to go to a good school and have access to the benefits other schools have to offer. Point Loma High cannot stay the only school in the district that does not have stadium lights. Our students deserve more than to be left in the dark by their community.

Another parent agreed:

I’m a proud parent of a former Pointer. It’s well overdue for PLHS to have a facelift. The 91 year old school has a great academic and athletic tradition. Our kids need the same advantages as other high schools in order to be great. Lets not keep our Pointers in the dark ages any longer.

Yet nearby homeowners remain frustrated and continue to be concerned the renovation of the stadium and the bright lights will result in noise, extra traffic and higher crime in the immediate neighborhood. Dave Dick, a member of Pro-Point Loma shared his complaints with NBC7:

“Those people are going to park on the streets of this community whenever they have a game.”

He also told the reporter the use of the stadium when the school hosts 18 lighted events will increase the crime in the community.

Principal Becker understands local homeowners who share fence lines with the campus can be inconvenienced by the all extra cars parked in front of their homes. He did tell NBC:

“There is, in the works, a modernization project to increase parking, It still would not be enough parking for a night of event but what we are going to do is create the flow of traffic of pedestrians once they park to go through the campus and not try to park in people’s front yards.”

Back on the other side, Dick of Pro-Point Loma said said he thought his group had a good case. He said:

“We’re going to revisit our options.”

Meanwhile, Point Loma High is allowed to use the lights next fall.

 7NBCSanDiego

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar unwashedwallmartThong June 30, 2017 at 6:25 pm

Well, put up some solar panels too. In comparison, those lights & PA system at USD are visible on the moon & all the way up Tecolote Canyon. Their PA system can reverberate the whole canyon, too. I can see why the locals are against it. Maybe the school has too much emphasis on sports or ROTC. Geez, one wonders if the graduating class could get off the field w/out the ROTC soldiers posted & marching around the field during June’s graduation ceremonies.

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Avatar Rufus July 1, 2017 at 10:09 am

The Cult of Football at PLHS is very frustrating. The unreal focus on the need for an artificial field surface, track and lights was way out of proportion to its importance to a high school. For nearly 90 years the school did just fine without lights, with grass and with a decomposed granite track.

The next thing you know they’ll tear down that beautiful gym and build a concrete monster.

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Avatar nostalgic July 2, 2017 at 10:50 am

You might be surprised that the laws on lighting are stricter in Las Vegas than they are in San Diego. This is from the era when Las Vegas wanted to develop the surrounding desert with homes, and offered a buffer of low-light business and mixed use between development and neon (and other light sources). Not so in San Diego.

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Avatar Michael July 3, 2017 at 1:16 pm

I used to have a house on Udall behind the Voltaire bleachers. When it was an open campus I would come home each day to find lunch garbage thrown in my yard, and several times I had my cars vandalized. I know what those lights will mean to the quality of life for the residents around the school. Such a shame that the people with power simply don’t care about the consequences to the neighborhood. The horror stories of people living next to schools with these lights is well known. Glad I sold when I did, I can only imagine the millions of dollars of lost equity just so the school can make a few bucks!

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