Just The Facts Part 2

Letter to the Editor
PLHS stadium expansion, lighting raises concerns for neighbors on various levels
by David L. Dick, Point Loma

The plan to significantly expand the size, capacity and frequency of use of the Point Loma High School stadium on the school’s already overcrowded campus has generated a lot of discussion in our community over the past few months. You can’t miss the hundreds of “Save Our Neighborhood” signs planted in the yards of those who oppose the project. I have one in front of my house.

Why?

Is it because the banks of 20-plus high-intensity lights installed atop each of the six 90-foot metal poles will shine on to my property and into my home? No. While that will be the result for many of my neighbors and isn’t a fair imposition on them, I live far enough away that those lights won’t affect me like that. But, just like anyone who lives in our community or whose view includes the sky above PLHS, I’ll be well aware of their presence. Whether by the indelible stain on our nighttime vistas their telltale glare and glow will leave, or the always-flashing red strobe lights on top of each pole hoping to warn passing aircraft of the danger they present, you will too.

Is it because increasing by 500 people the seating capacity of a stadium for which there is already virtually no parking will result in even more cars illegally parked in front of my house or blocking my driveway, with litter and graffiti left behind for me to deal with? Again, no. My neighbors who live closer to the campus will have to fight those battles, and that isn’t fair either. They fight those battles every time the stadium is used for an event attracting large crowds.

Ironically, most of these events aren’t even school events; they’re sponsored by groups or organizations not affiliated with PLHS or its student-athletes. Instead, the school district rents the field to these groups for money and keeps the revenues for itself — precious little, if any, retained for our local school programs. But even if you don’t live near the campus, you’ll experience the impact of this unnecessary expansion as hundreds more cars and buses clog our community’s already overburdened and narrow streets and further pollute our air. You’ve probably experienced Rosecrans Street on a weekday afternoon or Sunday. Imagine that on Chatsworth Boulevard, Voltaire Street and Nimitz Boulevard every evening and weekend.

Is it because I don’t support Pointer athletics and don’t want them to succeed or have adequate facilities? No. Like many who oppose this project, I’m a proud Pointer and a former student-athlete. Many fellow opponents have children who attend, will attend or have attended PLHS. We want the best for Point Loma High sports. But further taxing an already overused facility isn’t the solution to their needs. And, just for the record, I and many of the school’s neighbors fully support the annual Homecoming night game tradition. We had nothing to do with the decision to reschedule this year’s game to the afternoon.

So don’t be fooled. This stadium expansion isn’t really about practice times and Friday night football. It isn’t really about students or Pointer pride. What it’s really about is, plain and simple, money. The school district wants to fill its general fund coffers through the daily-use commercialization of a stadium that is already and will always be inadequate to the task and do so at the expense of our community.

If the school district was genuinely serious about improving the conditions for our student-athletes, they would put all their focus on the well-conceived and broadly supported plan already underway to create a lighted community sports complex on underutilized land at Correia Middle School. That plan makes sense. The PLHS Stadium expansion doesn’t.

No, I’m not some old cranky NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) who opposes the planned expansion and commercialization of the PLHS stadium out of blind self-interest. I oppose it because it’s the wrong plan, in the wrong place for the wrong reasons.

Even if you don’t live in the immediate proximity of the campus, for all the reasons I do, you should oppose it too.

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