News

Wednesday: School board to discuss M-A lights

The question of lights at the football field at Menlo-Atherton High School returns to the board of the Sequoia Union High School District for a discussion on Wednesday, March 17.

The board meets at 5:30 p.m. in the district office at 480 James Ave. in Redwood City. The discussion on lights follows reports on career technical education and 2010 summer school.

If lights are coming to M-A for the upcoming fall football season, they will have to be temporary.

In a background document, the district notes that permanent lights must be approved by the Division of State Architect, which oversees construction at public schools. A backlog at the agency will push any consideration of lights to November or December at the earliest, the district said.

A related environmental report on the lights project should be complete in about two months, the backgrounder said.

The district plans to use bond money to pay for the lights.

Comments

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Let the kids have the lights and enjoy night football
games. It's a big part of high school!


Posted by Susan, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Sharon-since as you suggest, the the kids needs come before the concerns of the neighbors around M.A.
I would also suggest that they be allowed to speed up and down Emilie and Alajandra in front of councilmen Charles Marsala's and Elizebeth Lewis's homes on their way to those other high schools.
Both council members have been very critical of the M.A. neighborhood's concerns about school activities impact and yet are they are both now loudly complaining about their own neighborhood schools


Posted by Julie, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm

If the State Architect needs to approve this kind of thing does this mean that the giant screen on the high school campus pointing at the end of Ravenswood Avenue got approved by the State Architect? Does it have to pass local planning?

It's ugly and distracting to drivers in a busy commuter intersection in front of a school.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2010 at 7:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

While it is true that the school district does not need the LEGAL approval of the residents near the M-A campus, but wouldn't it be nice if there was outreach by the School Board to its neighbors on this and other high impact issues?

Government decisions made without consideration of and input from those impacted are arrogant and will ultimately backfire.

Wise leader, and sometimes even elected public officials, understand the value of Win-Win solutions. It is hard to have a Win-Win solution if you don't even know what the other side considers to be important.

Why not explore different type of light standards, different heights, different placements, different shielding and the rules of use with the neighbors who will be impacted by those lights? Just because you don't have to doesn't mean that you shouldn't. Why be arrogant - "the school district doesn't need to have the approval of the residents near the M-A campus" - when you can be gracious and cooperative?

Exercising Wisdom is much more powerful than exercising Power.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2010 at 8:44 am

Well said, Peter. Unfortunately, this issue (lights), the MAPAC, the electric screen Julie mentioned, and the decision by the Board to limit the search for a replacement superintendent to only insiders are all symptomatic of the arrogance to which you refer and for what the District has become famous under Gemma's tenure as superintendent. I don't see it changing any time soon.


Posted by Willy, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Peter:

Great comment about compromise. I'm sure the district has already looked at the options for minimal glare, costs, etc..

Except how have the neighbors (tho only a loud few, it turns out,) compromised? They consistently (after choosing to buy next to a school) have tried to shut down activities for our kids.

Woodside HS has lights. The folks have a great time at those few night games.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Willy states:"Great comment about compromise. I'm sure the district has already looked at the options for minimal glare, costs, etc..

Except how have the neighbors (tho only a loud few, it turns out,) compromised?"

The School District has not even asked the neighbors for their input so there is nothing to compromise about. Why not share the District's evaluation of the options and get input from the neighbors?

What is the downside to such a conversation?


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Mar 16, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Willy, not sure why you think the Woodside HS lights are only used for their few night games. The 6 or so home games a season are not the issue. It's the 4 nights a week of practice, plus the Pop Warner games every Saturday from 8am to 9pm, plus the Sacred Heart, Menlo School, and other outside schools that rent the fields, etc, etc.

I haven't kept precise track, but I would bet the Woodside field is lit and used at night at least 120 days a year, probably over 180 days a year.

That's why folks get worked up over lights, it's not the home football games, it's everything else that makes it a serious issue.


Posted by Willy, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 16, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Anon: "Serious issue." Seriously?!?!?

I'll wager those lights are off by 8 or 8:30pm almost 330-340-350 nights a year.

Woodside HS football practices are probably over by 6 or 7. I think 6:30.

Even *if* later, what neighbors (who bought next to a school) are going to sleep at 8pm?

Go back to the phantom "increase crime" argument.

Peter: the neighbors have been quite vocal. I asked: "where have they compromised?"


Posted by Observer, a resident of Woodside High School
on Mar 16, 2010 at 4:23 pm

A wager is a useless assertion when lacking facts or data. But it should be straightforward to gather the relevant facts to prove a case.

Neighbors did buy next to a school -- one without lights.

I do agree with Willy that the crime issue is likely overblown.

A deeper question is where is the authorization in the bond proposal for field lights? Does it just fall under the general heading of "Renovate, upgrade and equip playing fields or other outdoor sports facilities"

Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Willy asks:"Peter: the neighbors have been quite vocal. I asked: "where have they compromised?""

While some of the neighbors have been vocal NONE of the neighbors have been asked to sit down and discuss this issue with the school district.

Since when is speaking out the same as being heard? This school district has a long record of being deaf.


Posted by let them play, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Without a whole lot of community buy in, our board has pushed students who want to compete in sports into a later schedule, so yes, the field will have to be lit for later football practices and soccer. I'd much rather have later games and practices, so kids don't have to miss as much school to compete before the sun goes down. More folks can get involved in these school activities by coming out to cheer after work.

Should they sit down with neighbors? Of course. Hopefully everyone can keep their tempers and talk!


Posted by Willy, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Peter: fair enough. I'll go with the assumption that the district has not asked them to sit down. But they've been to the meetings (the vocal ones.)

And until you answer, I'll also assume the neighbors have offered no compromise on lights, for a significant reason: there really isn't any compromise. To the neighbors, it's binary. Lights up or not.

Awfully easy to understand their viewpoint. Looking at a google satellite, it looks like 8-10 houses directly around the field (although hard to tell with the pools and tennis courts.) And if you aren't one of the ten houses, it smacks of nimbyism.

And what does the district have to compromise on? Of course the district will minimize glare, use the latest technology, etc.. That's common sense, not "compromise".

A few football game nights until 9:30, some other use on some nights until 8-ish? That's what happens at Woodside HS. Less than a dozen homes (voluntarily purchased next to the MA HS football field) with a few nights of inconvenience (the game nights till 9?) versus vastly greater access to the public facility for the community.

Woodside's neighbors found out about the lights the day they went up.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Mar 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Willy, "a few football game nights until 9:30, other nights until 8-ish" is simply not the reality at Woodside High, and there's no reason to expect M-A to be any different.

The reality of Woodside High is lights until 10pm or later Monday thru Thursday during the fall, and lights until 10:30-11pm EVERY Friday and Saturday night in the fall for either Woodside home games or other schools/teams renting the field for their home games (the varsity games START between 7 and 8pm typically). The only exception is for the Saturdays Pop Warner uses the field, when the last game does end at 9 or so, but that's after amplified PA announcers doing play by play starting at 8am and running continuously for 12-13 hours.

If you're going to argue for lights at M-A, fine, but please base your arguments on reality, not an extremely unrealistic view of the impact of the lights.

As someone living near Woodside High, I'm in favor of lights at M-A, as I expect some of the non-Woodside High activities I currently have to live with will move to M-A instead (i.e. Menlo and Sacred Heart games, etc). But I wouldn't argue in favor of the lights by pretending it's only a few home games until 9pm and no other impact. That's simply not true.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Mar 16, 2010 at 9:04 pm

and just to add to my previous comment, I just looked out the window and the Woodside High field is still fully lit up. Not in football season, it's a Tuesday, 9pm, and the lights are all on. And I can assure you this is very typical, and NOT in any way unusual.


Posted by Willy, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Anon: Interesting.

When my son played on the WHS field a couple years ago, practices ended well before eight (6:30ish) and even then, the custodian chased lingerers off just after eight and shut down the lights. Seems like there isn't an emphasis on it anymore.

What sport is using it tonight? Can you see?

I will start noting the times as I drive by.

As for the youth groups, I just called a member of the 49ers who claims your 2nd paragraph is riddled with inaccuracies.

But you have a good point, more playing fields has long been a goal of the youth groups for awhile - relieve the stress on the existing usage.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Mar 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm

It's nice that someone claims it's "riddled with inaccuracies". But if you go to www.woodsidehs.org and pull up their calendar for the months last fall (September, October, November), it's easy to see all the home football games listed with start times of either 7pm or 8pm. And since football games take ~3 hours to complete, that means the games all end at 10-11pm, plus a little time at the end to clean up, clear everyone out, etc.

The calendar doesn't list the other organizations that rent out the field, but it's Pop Warner one day a weekend and then other local schools and teams who don't have lit fields on the other available nights. So I'm not sure what the "riddled with inaccuracies" refers to, unless I remembered wrong and Pop Warner plays Sundays instead of Saturdays.

And no, I can't see who's using the field, the trees and landscaping do a good job of screening the field itself, but do no good at all with the lights themselves. It's 9:30 now and as expected the lights are still on.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2010 at 11:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

To show how deaf this Board is to public input I include here the Board's reaction on my calling them to task for violating the Brown Act. They simply blacklisted my email address on their server - so much for wanting citizen input!!

Dear School Board members,

The below email was sent to you from my normal gmail address and was uniformly rejected with the comment - The error that the other server returned was: 554 554 5.7.1 Blacklisted by dbl.spamhaus.org. The same email has been sent to you from another of my email addresses and was accepted.

Clearly you have decided that you do NOT want citizen input. I am amazed at your arrogance.

I also think you may end up getting copies from other citizens who share my outrage at your behavior.

Peter

Their email addresses are:
omartinez@seq.org, dgibson@seq.org, lrumley@seq.org, asarver@seq.org, cthomsen@seq.org


Posted by R.Gordon, a resident of another community
on Mar 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Mr. Carpenter...Peter:

Welcome to the reality of the reality of the area when someone like you becomes a bother to them.
There is nothing in it for them, just like most San Mateo County offices..........the same thing happens with the Bldg commission.
But, try save a piece of crap of a house for "historical preservation" and spend millions for 8 years, and they all think differently. ARROGANCE is the key word.
The school boards' deafness is insulting and obvious.


Posted by Willy, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 17, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Peter:
Do you really think a (overzealous) spam program <554 554 5.7.1 Blacklisted by dbl.spamhaus.org.> is equal to a Board member blacklisting you? Especially when you said another of your addresses worked?
Web Link

As my pop said: "sometimes, it ain't all about you...."

Anon: I will let the 49ers speak for themselves, since I will not credibly list all of the inaccuracies they described with your representation. The day of the week was the least of their concerns about erroneous information.

Have you called them?

Also, anon: Have you asked the school, today: "why the lights were on last night?" I haven't a clue as to the usage last night, or even what sport uses the lights that late on a school night (nor what is in season, currently.)

Most curious.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Willy asks:"Do you really think a (overzealous) spam program <554 554 5.7.1 Blacklisted by dbl.spamhaus.org.> is equal to a Board member blacklisting you? Especially when you said another of your addresses worked?"

My emails to all five School Board members bounced back when I used the same email address that I filed my Brown Act complaint with but the same message went through when I use another of my email addresses - that seems pretty conclusive. And then someone else forwarded them my original message and they were then blacklisted. Why don't you try and see what happens?

In my 8 1/2 years of elected office I never refused an email or phone call from a citizen - I worked for the citizens who elected me.

The School Board members are really failing to serve the public which elected them.

Their email addresses are:

omartinez@seq.org, dgibson@seq.org, lrumley@seq.org, asarver@seq.org, cthomsen@seq.org


Posted by Is It Safe?, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm

The black helicopters are out to get you, Peter - watch out!


Posted by James, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 18, 2010 at 8:34 am

I'm glad that the school district has extra money to now add lights to their field. While night games may be part of a high schoolers experience, I would think curtailing costs given today's financial market might be prudent. But wait -- no the school spent how much money on that monstrosity called a theater.

Given the recent actions of the school board, I sure they don't need input from anybody, they know "everything".


Posted by Willy, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 18, 2010 at 10:49 am

Geez, Peter: one address works, and the other is blocked by a spam filter - that's blacklisting?

Hold on, let me adjust this tin foil...

Have you called the town admin, or whomever does their PC stuff? Aside: judged by the website, they haven't invested much in it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2010 at 10:55 am

Willy states:"Geez, Peter: one address works, and the other is blocked by a spam filter - that's blacklisting?"

I just deal with facts - here is the response, their words - not mine:

"The error that the other server returned was: 554 554 5.7.1 Blacklisted by dbl.spamhaus.org"


Posted by Willy, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 18, 2010 at 11:54 am

Peter states: "I just deal with facts - here is the response, their words - not mine..."

And, good lord, man, please LOOK at it: it is probably (highly likely) a computer generated message, not "theirs". I already posted the link with info on the spam site.

I rather enjoy many of your responses in other areas, but geez, look closer or call someone.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Woodside High School
on Mar 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Peter,
bear in mind Hanlon's Razor

Web Link

that doesn't excuse the board demeanor. Moreover as noted, Jim may be a fine superintendent, but he arrives unvetted, except in private.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Observer - Thanks.
Here is what Observer pointed us to:

"Hanlon's Razor is an eponymous adage which reads:

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

I understand and I would hope that our elected officials are neither malicious or stupid.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2010 at 6:19 am

Observer pointed me to Hanlon's Razor, noted above.
Further investigation of that term reveals that Hanlon's Razor might be a corruption of "Heinlein's Razor".

"Heinlein's Razor" is defined as variations on "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, BUT DON"T RULE OUT MALICE."


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