Neighbors of Point Loma High School have filed suit in Superior Court to stop the San Diego Unified School District from illegally lighting and commercializing the football field, invading their homes with light and noise pollution and clogging their residential streets with hundreds of cars seeking parking spaces that the School District declines to provide.
The 17 plaintiffs, led by the football field’s next-door neighbor Carol Simpson, widow of the beloved Point Loma Coach Hugh Simpson, advised the Court that the School District intends to flood the Loma Portal neighborhood with heavy traffic any weekday or weekend until 11 p.m. as hundreds of vehicles vie for limited parking. While adding aluminum bleachers to increase seating capacity by 25 percent to 2,500 people – well beyond the attendance of any recent school event – the District is adding almost no new parking beyond the existing, small parking lot five blocks from the main football field entrance. The District intends to provide only one parking space for every 14 attendees, the lawsuit states, violating the city’s zoning laws without a Conditional Use Permit.
Beyond disappointing the neighbors’ expectation that Point Loma High School should be a good neighbor – like it’s been without permanent lights for all of its 91-year existence – San Diego attorney Bob Ottilie, who filed the lawsuit late Thursday in the plaintiffs’ behalf, said the School Board is violating the California Environmental Quality Act, California Government Code, local zoning and land-use ordinances and related traffic and quality of life regulations.
The lead plaintiff, Carol Simpson, has been a loyal supporter and booster of Point Loma High School, before and after the death of her husband, Coach Hugh Simpson, and their children, Kent, Shelley and Burke, in an airplane crash on Christmas Day 1982.
Said Mrs. Simpson: “We’ve always supported the students and the school. In return, we don’t deserve stadium lights and loudspeakers anytime until late at night. We have to be good neighbors.”
Said Ottilie: “Carol Simpson and many neighbors, including alumni, have given generously to Point Loma High School for many years. The District has a moral and legal obligation to them to operate the field in a civilized manner and not light it up into a rental business until 11 p.m. any night of the year, disturbing all their next-door neighbors and the neighbors beyond.
The lawsuit details three causes of action, but many more instances of legal violations:
- The San Diego Unified School District is violating the California Environmental Quality Act and Code of Civil Procedure by failing to consider reasonable alternatives to the project and failing to consider the merits of mitigation measures that could lessen the impact of noise, light pollution, traffic, parking and other deteriorations to the neighborhood caused by the project.
- The School District conducted a sham hearing on May 24 for a decision that already had been made. The lawsuit asserts the project itself was never even voted upon, and the Board of Trustees even neglected to make a motion or a second to approve the EIR. On May 24, the Board of Trustees voted 5-0 in favor of nothing.
- The School District is misusing and violating California Government Code Section 53094 that may exempt the school from local land-use and zoning ordinances, but only if used for academic or classroom purposes. School Districts cannot exempt themselves from local land-use or zoning ordinances under any other circumstances, particularly the commercial uses planned here. By School District admission, the majority of the uses of this facility are intended not for classroom or academic purposes, the lawsuit states.