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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Malibu Park Residents Assess Impact of MHS Field Lighting During Use

• Temporary Restraining Order Provides Opportunity for Football Team to Finish Season under the Lights

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Malibu High School’s athletic field lighting debuted on Friday night for the MHS Sharks’ homecoming game. A temporary restraining order issued by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant allowed the lights to be used for two nights—Oct. 26 and Nov. 2—and then be removed while a lawsuit filed by the Malibu Community Alliance, a recently-formed community group comprised of many of the 400-plus homeowners directly impacted by the stadium lighting is addressed.
The homecoming game featured an extensive list of special guests, including members of the Malibu City Council and the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, who participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The event also featured a parade with many of the school’s other athletic teams, and the traditional halftime show, showcasing the Malibu High School cheer squad and drum line and the homecoming king and queen.
The Sharks played the Fillmore Flashes on Oct. 26, losing 49 to 6. They will go up against the Santa Clara Saints this Friday, seeking to win second place in the Frontier League in the final game of the season.
Area residents have stated that they are taking advantage of the two night games to assess and document the impact of the lights on their homes and primary views. A number of Malibu Park homeowners indicated that they did not have a sense of what the lights looked like until they saw them installed last week.
The Oct. 26 game was played in Santa Ana conditions, with winds gusting up to 30 mph. Weather forecasts indicate that this Friday’s game may be played under a more typical marine influence, offering an opportunity to observe sky glow under conditions with higher humidity.
The California Coastal Commission required that the lights be “downward facing” and equipped with the best technology available to direct the lighting onto the field and shield the environment from the impact of light spill. The lighting installed at the school is equipped with the “best technology available” from the contractor, Musco Lighting, according to the district.
However, observers reportedly documented sky glow generated by the lights from Broad Beach, the top of Trancas Canyon Road, Point Dume State Park, and at various points throughout Malibu Park.
The greatest impact from the lights was observed along Merritt Drive, where the lights appeared at eye-level for residents and motorists and along Harvester Road and Clover Heights.
The Malibu City Council required that the district remove the lighting fixtures each year when the period of light use specified by the Coastal Commission ends.
The MCA is expected to ask the judge to require the district to also remove the light poles. They are also expected to ask that the district be held to the 16 nights of use originally requested by lighting proponents.
The judge has ordered a follow up hearing on Nov. 8.
The Nov. 2 game kicks off at 7 p.m., following a ceremony to honor the senior players at 6:15 p.m.

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