Peninsula planners ask city for judicial review of Point Loma High School project
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 12/10/16 - 12:05 PM | 5099 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the continuing battle over lights at Point Loma High School’s stadium, the Peninsula Community Planning Board in November opted to send a letter to city officials asking them to seek judicial review of San Diego Unified School District's action to exempt the high school from local zoning ordinances and regulations.

The motion, made by board member David Dick, an attorney and PLHS alum, which had been tabled from the previous month's PCPB meeting, passed by a 9-2 vote.

Dick's motion proposed sending a letter to the mayor's office and outgoing city attorney Jan Goldsmith to urge the city to initiate action in San Diego Superior Court to “determine if SDUSD's action to exempt the Point Loma High School Whole Site Modernization Project from local zoning and regulations was proper.”

“I'm not asking us (PCPB) to determine whether the Whole Site Modernization Project, or any element of it, is appropriate,” said Dick. “But I feel it's our duty, as a planning body in our community, to simply ask the city to seek expert opinion about whether the school district's action to exempt itself from local regulations was arbitrary and capricious.”

“If the city took this up, would you have the expectation that they would have to enjoin the (school) district from moving forward with the contract that is now under way?” asked board member James Hare.

“I'm expecting the city to take the action I'm asking us to ask for,” replied Dick.

The PLHS Whole-Site Modernization and Athletic Facilities Upgrade Project, of which proposed stadium lights is a part, is the first phase of planned long-range, multi-phase improvements at the school.

In May, SDUSD unanimously endorsed environmental documents for Point Loma High's long-term modernization including stadium lights. Shortly thereafter, 17 neighbors of the high school, adamantly opposed to adding new stadium lighting, filed a class-action lawsuit against SDUSD.

High school neighbors claim new lighting will harm their quality of life adding more noise, crime and visual pollution to their already overcrowded and impacted neighborhood.

They also fear further commercialization of the PLHS stadium by outside interests, which they claim wouldn't benefit local students or the community.

Group vice chair Robert Goldyn asked if Dick's motion would be precedent-setting, to which Dick replied that something similar occurred not long ago in the Palomar Community College District over a legal challenge to that school district exempting itself from local zoning regulations.

“I feel as an elected body that we should be handling this issue, taking it up,” said board member Jerry Lohla.

“The law needs to be fixed and this is an issue that transcends our community covering the entire city,” said Dick. “It's a big issue, field use policy, and the intensity, and frequency of use of the field, specifically the lights.”

Hare supported Dick's motion, while referring to it as a “Hail Mary,” last-ditch effort.

“It faces a couple of hurdles, including whether the city will respond to this request (at all), or that a judge will come out in favor of it,” Hare said.

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