Council to Hear Resolution to Certify LCP Amendment for MHS Field Lights
• Approval of Certification Expected to Be Pro Forma Vote
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
The issue of field lighting at Malibu High School returns to city hall on Monday, when the City Council is scheduled to hear a resolution of certification for the Local Coastal Program Amendment that would permit "limited lighting of the main sports field at public high schools"
Staff is recommending that the city council approve certification of the LCP amendment, which incorporates modifications required by the California Coastal Commission.
Although the City of Malibu and the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District initially denied that the lights would have a negative environmental impact, the Coastal Commission acknowledged concerns raised by project opponents and conditioned approval of the LCP amendment to limit the number and frequency of light use, specify shielded lights, and require a biologist to conduct bird surveys if the lights are to be used during peak bird migration periods.
"The CCC recognized potential impacts to resources that include public views of natural landforms, the beach and ocean, nighttime sky, and environmentally sensitive habitat in the surrounding area," the staff report states. "The CCC evaluated the city's LCP amendment request against these standards and determined that allowing the request for proposed lighting of the main sports field at Malibu High School , subject to the issuance of a coastal development permit and a conditional use permit by the city, is permissible with modifications. The modifications confine the proposed night lighting to a limited number of hours, nights per week, and nights per year; to protect the general scenic and visual qualities of the nearby coastal areas; and to minimize impacts on scenic areas visible from scenic roads or public viewing areas to the maximum feasible extent.
"Additionally, the modifications ensure that field night lights would not spill into any areas designated environmentally sensitive habitat area or ESHA buffer and would minimize adverse impacts to biologically significant wildlife and coastal resources, consistent with the relevant ESHA policies of the LCP Land Use Plan.
"The modified LCP amendment was found to adequately protect ESHA from significant disruption of habitat values and is consistent with, and adequate to carry out, the ESHA policies of the LUP. "
The City Council has three options: to certify the modified LCP amendment, to take no action, or to approve with additional modifications, which would require a new CCC review.
The modifications include language that specifies "sports field lighting in the Institutional zone must be limited to the main sports field at Malibu High School and subject to the standards of [the] LIP.
"In order to minimize the cumulative effect of night lighting on the scenic quality and character of Malibu, suggested modification 1 specifies that lighted sports fields are prohibited in all other zone districts, and lighted sports courts shall continue to be prohibited in the institutional zone, as was the case prior to this amendment.
" As for the propriety of allowing lighting of even the main athletic field at Malibu High School, given the topography of the area and the distance from that field to the public viewing areas described above, the light standards/poles themselves at the main sports field at the Malibu High campus are not expected to significantly block or obscure public views of the ocean or mountains during the daytime. However, to ensure that public views are not obscured by light fixtures during the daytime and that impacts to scenic resources from the operation of the lights are minimized as required by the policies of the LUP, Suggested Modification 3 limits night lighting usage to the main sports field at Malibu High School according to the following restrictions and requirements:
Lighting may not be used between June 1 and Aug. 31; lighting maybe used until 7:30 p.m. three nights a week between the first Sunday in November to the second Sunday in March (defined as Pacific Standard Time) so long as it does not occur on consecutive nights or more than two nights a week; The 18 nights until 10:30 p.m. allotment may be used outside of Pacific Standard Time according to the following restrictions: during the fall bird migration period, lighting may be used from September through the first week in November; during the spring avian migration period, lighting may be used from the last week of March through May; and lighting use during either the fall or spring migration periods requires an avian monitoring plan to be reviewed and approved by the city biologist prior to issuance of a coastal development permit authorizing the lighting.
According to the staff report, "the plan is required to be implemented concurrent with the approved field lighting operations. If the monitoring component of the plan indicates that the approved field lighting results in significant adverse impacts upon birds, the city will be required to modify the approved lighting schedule in order to ensure avoidance of the identified impacts.
Suggested modification 4 specifies that field lighting at Malibu High School "must 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 to the maximum extent feasible."
The CCC executive director will determine in writing whether the city's action is "legally adequate to satisfy any specific requirements set forth in the CCC's certification order." The director then reports the determination to the CCC at its next regularly scheduled meeting.
If the LCP amendment is approved, the school district must apply to the city for a Conditional Use Permit before any plan to light the field can be implemented.