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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

City Council Will Hear Light Plan

• Recusals Complicate Project Hearing Process

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

The City of Malibu announced on Tuesday that the city council, not the planning commission, will hear plans for the proposed athletic field lighting project at Malibu High School. City approval and the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit are the last obstacles in a complicated battle to bring the four seven-story tall structures that will generate 72,000 watts of light for as many as 100-plus nights a year to the school.
Three of the five planning commissioners would reportedly be required to recuse themselves to avoid conflict of interest, leaving the panel without a quorum on the issue.
Commissioner Jeff Jennings lives within close proximity to the school property. Commissioners Mikke Pierson and Roohi Stack have contributed to MHS’s “Bring on the Lights” fundraising drive.
The Malibu City Council will hold the hearing on Monday, June 25, at 6:30 p.m. Malibu Mayor Laura Rosenthal, one of the most outspoken advocates for the lighting plan and a financial contributor at the $500 level to the fundraiser, is also expected to recuse herself.
Other notable project contributors include a donation at the $10,000 and up “Platinum Booster” level from the Malibu Bay Company; a second platinum level donation from Malibu residents Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber.
Developer Steve Soberoff’s “Whole Foods in the Park” shopping center contributed at the $5000 and up “Gold Booster” level. The graduating class of 2011 also contributed at the $5000-level. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation made a donation at the $1000 and up “Silver Booster” level, while the City of Malibu is listed as a donor at the $1-$499 level.
Malibuites Janice and Jeff Nikora were the top donors to date, contributing at the $40,000 and up  “Luminary Booster” level.
The “Bring on the Lights” fundraising drive is reportedly just $150,000 short of an estimated $600,000 required to install permanent lights on the main  MHS athletic field.
The lighting plan, which originated as part of Measure BB-funded improvements for the Malibu campus in 2008, and originally included an open-ended number of nights of light with no environmental mitigation, met with a firestorm of outrage from Malibu Park residents and environmentalists.
The City of Malibu was able to change the city’s Local Coastal Program to permit the lights. The California Coastal Commission, after initially rejecting the lighting plan on a unanimous vote, voted to approve the lights with a number of restrictions and environmental mitigation.
The current plan proposes the installation and limited operation of four 70- foot-tall permanent light standards with 12.3-foot cross arms—a structure  the length of a minivan—atop each pole that will support a total of 48 light fixtures with a total output of 72,000 watts,  50.8 foot candles, with a maximum 63 foot candles and minimum 36 foot candles.
“The four light standards would be installed on the outer edge of the track surrounding the main sports field at approximately the ten-yard lines. The diameter of each light standard is approximately 19 inches wide at grade level, tapering to approximately ten inches at the top of the 70 foot height.
Although the lights reportedly remain controversial in the Malibu Park neighborhood, opponents of the original plan opted not to appeal the amended plan approved by the Coastal Commission.
If approved, installation of the poles is anticipated to span approximately 21 days beginning in the summer of 2012 when school is not in session.

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