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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Balloons Indicate Impact of MHS Field Lights

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Critics of the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District’s Malibu High School field lighting plan say that they had some of their worst fears realized this week, when large orange balloons on 90-foot cables were floated on the football field to indicate where the lights will be placed.
Two balloons burst within hours of being erected on Friday and were later replaced. The balloons were never at a constant 90-degree angle due to the wind, but despite being buffeted, they were clearly visible from almost every vantage point in the bowl-shaped mesa surrounding the MHS campus.
Malibu Park residents say they are not surprised that the district did not notify them in advance about the balloon plan, and are also raising the question of whether the district is honoring the California Coastal Commission’s condition that the lights use the best available technology to control light pollution to the maximum extent.
 They say they are also not surprised that the school has not yet made any effort to modify existing light pollution issues on the campus, which was suggested as a remediation measure by the coastal panel.
Questions are also being raised over whether the district put the project out to bid, since the contract appears to be with the company originally selected when the lighting project was still part of the school’s Measure BB-funded improvements.
Volunteers are currently in the process of raising an estimated $600,000 to fund the lights.
The City of Malibu is  currently listed as a donor in the “Bring on the Lights” fundraising campaign’s literature, in the $1-$499 donation level.
The City of Malibu’s Planning Commission is scheduled to hear the district’s request for a Conditional Use Permit to install the lights  next month.

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