The Awkward EIR

Even a Best-Case EIR Warns of ‘Unmitigatable’ Harm

The Environmental Impact Report is a remarkable document, thousands of pages in which even the School District’s consultant claims that “unmitigatable” harm will be done to Point Loma High School’s neighbors by redeveloping the football field into a for-rent stadium with powerful lights and concert-quality sound system available “any day (or night) of the year” until 11 p.m.

Buried in the exhibits, the formal EIR also includes, by law under the California Environmental Quality Act, the detailed written warnings of neighbors and expert noise, light, environmental and legal consultants, explaining how the commercialized noise and light pollution, traffic and parking congestion will be even worse than the “adverse impacts” claimed by the District’s consultants if Point Loma High School is permitted to light up and amplify the field hundreds of nights per year, as happened at Clairemont High School.

Overlooking these concerns, the School Board voted 5-0 to approve the EIR on May 24, but the published minutes declared that the project too had been approved. PLHS neighbors’ lawsuit filed June 24 noted that, in fact, the project had not been approved by a motion, nor a second, and that the District earlier violated the Brown Act by not notifying the public that the project itself would be considered May 24.  

Three Days’ Notice

In response, the School Board gave residents three days’ notice of a “cure and correct” hearing July 12 and approved the project, again 5-0, despite testimony against commercialization, noise pollution, light pollution, traffic, parking and safety degradation from nearly 40 brave Loma Portal residents who got up to speak – and were each cut off by the chairman after 60 seconds. Notably, Walter Anderson, the distinguished San Diego nurseryman, told the School Board at the July 12 hearing that Clairemont High School neighbors’ quality of life was destroyed after lights, amplification and field rentals were installed there, invading their homes with disruptions on hundreds of nights. Forced to move, he warned the Point Lomans to expect the same.

Accoustical engineer Dr. Leslie Penzes testified that only a dome covering the stadium could avoid violating the city’s noise ordinance.

The Value of the Lights, at What Cost?

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in June that the School District made about $250,000 in 2015 renting out San Diego High School’s Balboa Stadium. Buried in the EIR exhibits, on Page 2-831 of the Final Environmental Impact Report, are recollections of former School Board Trustee Scott Barnett promising that PLHS’ lighted field would generate more revenue than any in the District. Not buried, but for all to hear at that July 12 hearing, was Board President McQuary declaring that “the value of the lights outweigh the concerns of the neighbors.” He called for the unanimous vote.

“What’s the value?!” a PLHS neighbor in the audience demanded.

More than $250,000 a year into School District commercialization coffers, Barnett would estimate.

And what’s the cost?

A priceless loss in quality of life, and as much as a 15% to 30% loss in the value of nearby homes, local real estate executives have estimated recently.

Please help Pro Point Loma support your neighbors’ litigation until the case is settled or adjudicated, we hope before year-end. Please donate generously to Pro Point Loma.

Additional EIR resources: