310.450.8338, ext. 229 17 JULY 2009
Malibu High School Football Lighting Project
On July 9, 2009, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District submitted its application to the California Coastal Commission to obtain an amendment to Malibu High School’s existing Coastal Development Permit to authorize the school’s use of temporary, portable 53-feet high lights at its athletic field for eight evening football practices to 7:30 p.m. and eight evening football games to 10:30 p.m., each football season (the “MHS Football Lighting Project”). The MHS Football Lighting Project also includes a self-imposed penalty should the number of nights be exceeded. Upon such an event, the school would lose night lighting for the next football season. If the Commission approves the District’s application, Malibu High School will then be allowed to continue having lighting for its high school football practices and games. The application is available on the District’s website at www.smmusd.org.
The process to obtain a permit amendment from the Commission is lengthy due to the in-depth analyses required of the District and the extenuating budget circumstances at the Commission. This process first began in the fall of 2008 when the District was scoping the separate Measure BB Malibu Middle and High School Campus Improvements Project (“Measure BB Project”). Review of the District’s and Commission’s files revealed an existing Coastal Development Permit for the Malibu High School’s former bond construction project. Included in this permit is the prohibition on night lighting of the school’s athletic field. Initially, the Commission requested the lighting prohibition to be implemented as a deed restriction. However, the Commission ultimately agreed that the lighting prohibition would be implemented in a separate agreement. Unfortunately, neither the District nor the Coastal Commission can locate the contemplated agreement. It is likely that the agreement was never finalized and may have led to Malibu High School unknowingly violating the prohibition when it began using temporary, portable lights for the football program in the fall of 2003. Without any formal complaint, Malibu High School continued to use the temporary, portable lights until the violation was discovered.
In September 2008, the District disclosed in the Initial Study for the Measure BB Project that Malibu High School was using temporary, portable lights for its football program in violation of the Coastal Development Permit. To address the violation, the District consulted with staff from both the Commission and the City of Malibu. It was mutually decided that the District must obtain an amendment to the school’s Coastal Development Permit before any further night football practices or games can continue.
The District commissioned CAA Planning to analyze the potential environmental impacts of the MHS Football Lighting Project and to prepare an application for the permit amendment and Culbertson and Associates California to process the application with the Commission. After conducting a preliminary review, CAA determined that the MHS Football Lighting Project could potentially cause significant environmental impacts, but with implementation of mitigation measures there would be no remaining significant environmental impacts. As a result, CAA prepared a Mitigated Negative Declaration (“MND”) that disclosed the MHS Football Lighting Project’s attributes, its potential environmental impacts, and mitigation measures that would result those significant environmental impacts to less than significant.
The District conducted substantial public outreach on the MHS Football Lighting Project. On May 8, 2009, the District filed with Los Angeles County Clerk and published a Notice of Intent to Adopt the MHS Football Lighting MND (“NOI”) for public review and comment. The public comment period ended June 10, 2009, 33 days later. The NOI was published in both the Malibu Surfside News and the Malibu Times newspapers, posted on the District’s website and at the District’s offices and the school, and mailed to 21 public agencies and 250 interested groups, persons, and adjacent property owners. The MND was made available for public review at the Malibu High School, the District’s offices and website, the Malibu Public Library, and the Santa Monica Public Library. In all 18 written comment letters and a petition signed by 268 members of the public in support of the Project were received. Responses to the comments, a minor Errata to the MND, and a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (“MMRP”) were prepared. The Board’s consideration of adopting the MND and the MMRP and approving the MHS Football Lighting Project was originally scheduled for the regular Board meeting of June 25, 2009. In order to provide sufficient time to consult with the City of Malibu on its comment letter, the Board announced at the meeting that it was postponing its considerations on the MHS Football Lighting Project.
Customary public notice was given on June 26, 2009 to announce a special meeting of the Board for July 1, 2009, to consider the MHS Football Lighting Project. The Board’s special meeting was noticed as, and held, open to the public; it was not nor could it be a private meeting under state law. At the special meeting, District staff advised the Board that Malibu now agreed that the permit application should be submitted to the Commission. Further, the Malibu High School Principal informed the Board that football is a part of the educational program that provides a safe evening environment for Malibu’s youth. Football coaches, players, and supporters also urged the Board to adopt the MND and approve the MHS Football Lighting Project. No comments in opposition were made at the special meeting. After carefully considering the MND, public comments, responses, and MMRP, the Board unanimously adopted the MND and MMRP, approved the MHS Football Lighting Project, and authorized District staff to submit the application for an amendment to the Coastal Development Permit to the Commission.
At the same special meeting, the Board also adopted a resolution to exempt the MHS Football Lighting Project only from Malibu’s zoning code and not from the Local Coastal Program. Such action only exempts the MHS Football Lighting Project (i.e., the temporary, portable lights) from any use prohibition or requirement to obtain any permit or approval from Malibu as specified in Title 17, Zoning of Malibu’s Municipal Code.
The District is hopeful that the application will be processed and approved by the Commission in time for the upcoming football season.
SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404
ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138