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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

City’s Malibu High School Lighting Plan Approval Appealed to Coastal Commission

• Community Group Accuses School District of Reneging on Parking Lot Plan Compromise Agreement

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu Community Alliance, a group that has previously legally tangled with the school district, has filed an appeal with the California Coastal Commission seeking to overturn the Malibu Planning Commission’s approval of the Malibu High School remodeling plans.
MCA, which says it represents Malibu Park residents, cites in its appeal the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District's failure to incorporate the least damaging environmental alterative in the final plans for the proposed high school rebuilding project.
Members of the group indicated that on March 19, MCA and representatives of the SMMUSD spent four hours during the planning commission meeting hashing out a compromise agreement “that limited night lighting of the new parking lot proposed for the ridgeline and set standards for a longer term project calling for the installation of state of the art lighting in the school’s two additional parking lots.”
“Subsequent to the planning commission meeting we reached out to the school district on multiple occasions requesting they acknowledge their intent to honor our agreement,” said Alliance spokesperson Cami Winikoff.
“When that effort failed an appeal to the Coastal Commission was the only way for us to protect our neighborhood. We cannot continue to allow the district to say one thing and do another.”
MCA is accusing district officials of going back on their word.
 A press release issued by the group this week, states that subsequent to the planning commission vote that allowing for lighting on the parking lot the compromise agreement was altered.
The compromise agreement limited night lighting on two-thirds of the new parking lot to nights when late night athletic events were taking place or for other significant campus events.
“MCA understood that both sides agreed that this would be limited to 31 nights a year,” the press release states. 
“The new plan expands the use of night lighting and allows the entire parking lot to be lit up every night until 8 p.m.
The compromise agreement, according to MCA, also required that new light poles in the schools two additional parking lots be limited to a height of 12 feet.
“The school district no longer acknowledges this requirement,” the press release states.
The new application is to redevelop portions of the MMHS campus with a new classroom/library/administration building totaling 20,274 square feet of net new building area; approximately 12,509 square feet of interior renovation and modernization of existing classrooms.
The commission approved the new 150-space lighted parking lot; a reconfigured 119-space lighted parking lot with an onsite roundabout; a reconfigured 61-space lighted parking lot and outdoor lighting.
The school district, which is the lead agency, issued a Final Environmental Impact Report last fall.
An FEIR describes the project as approximately 76,694 square feet of new construction, some of it replacement building since 15,041 square feet of old buildings are earmarked for demolition while other buildings will be upgraded.
The FEIR, which was approved by the school district prepared for the proposal, acknowledges that the project would not be able to avoid adverse impacts related to increased sky-glow because of nightlights.
Appellants can bypass the city council and take their appeals directly to the Coastal Commission.

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