CCC to Hear Modified MHS Lighting Plan
• Report Indicates Project Still Has Negative Impact
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
The California Coastal Commission staff report for the City of Malibu's Local Coastal Program Amendment to permit field lighting at Malibu High School, which will be heard at the Oct. 5 CCC meeting in Huntington Beach includes modifications to reduce environmental impact but also states that any athletic field lighting at the school will create light pollution and has the potential to harm wildlife, despite mitigation measures that will lessen but not eliminate the impact.
California Coastal Commission staff is recommending the commission deny the City of Malibu's Local Coastal Program Amendment to permit athletic field lighting at Malibu High School and approve a modified amendment that requires an extensive ornithological survey and monitoring program if the lights are used during fall or spring bird migration periods, and a prohibition on the light use more then three times a week, or on consecutive nights and during certain periods of bird activity.
The staff report finds that "Allowing any field light use during fall or spring bird migration periods has the potential to result in significant impacts to night migrating birds."
The staff report states that the City of Malibu's proposed Local Implementation Plan Amendment "does not conform with, and is inadequate to carry out, the provisions of the certified Land Use Plan. Certification of the Implementation Plan Amendment would not meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act as there are feasible alternatives and mitigation measures that would substantially lessen the significant adverse impacts on the environment that will result from certification of the Implementation Program Amendment as submitted."
The report acknowledges that "the proposed amendment has the potential to impact migratory birds and nesting and roosting raptors and owls," and that the school is "situated within the Pacific Flyway, and potentially within the pathway of northward spring and southward fall migrations, which occur during the months of late March through May and September." The document states that "once drawn into an artificial light source a number of negative outcomes can occur."
The staff report also states that "field lighting will unavoidably create illumination/sky glow when operated at night, particularly along the coast where foggy conditions are common, that will be visible from nearby public scene viewing areas that include Zuma Beach County Park to the south and National Park Service land/Zuma Ridge Trail to the north."
To mitigate the negative impact, the modified LCP amendment proposed by staff requires that:
a. Lighting shall be minimized, directed downward, and shielded using the best available visor technology and pole height and design that minimizes light spill, sky glow, and glare impacts to public views and wildlife to the maximum extent feasible.
b. Lighting may only occur for a maximum of three days in any calendar week and must be limited to the following time restrictions: During Pacific Standard Time (defined as of 2011 to be the first Sunday in November to the second Sunday in March), the lights may be illuminated no later than 7:30 p.m.
From each September 1 through May 31 period, inclusive, the lights may only be illuminated after 7:30 p.m. up to 18 times, and then (a) only until 10:30 p.m., (b) never on consecutive nights, and (c) on no more than two nights in any given calendar week. The lights may not be illuminated at any time between June 1 and August 31, inclusive, of any year.
An "avian monitoring plan" prepared by "a qualified ornithologist" is required if the lights will be in use at any time from September through the first week in November, or from the last week of March through through May.
The plan shall, "at a minimum, include the following elements: Monitoring shall be conducted by a qualified ornithologist/ecologist to assess potential adverse impacts to migratory and resident bird species."
"If the Monitoring results indicate that the approved field lighting results in significant adverse impacts upon birds, the City shall require modification of the approved lighting schedule in order to ensure avoidance of the identified impacts.
"The applicant shall be required to submit a written statement agreeing to the above restrictions."
The report is available online at http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html