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Atherton residents sue over football field lights

Original post made on Aug 16, 2010

A group of about a dozen Atherton residents whose homes are near the campus of Menlo-Atherton High School have filed a lawsuit over plans to install temporary lights so that the school can have night football games, an attorney for the group told The Almanac.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 16, 2010, 11:50 AM

Comments (112)

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Posted by matt
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm

our high school had to host night games in which our school did not take part, because other communities do things like this. Atherton residents: deal with it. You live near a school.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 16, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Matt states:"Atherton residents: deal with it. You live near a school."

SUHSD - deal with it. You are part of a larger community.

Last January I called on the SUHS District to enter into discussions with their MA High School neighbors to develop a mutually acceptable plan for night lighting:

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Jan 26, 2010 at 4:46 pm
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac
menlores states:"Fortunately the school district doesn't need to have the approval of the residents near the M-A campus. Just do it! It is long overdue....."

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."

***************************
The District refused to do so.

And now the inevitable has happened: Atherton group says plan to light up M-A field violates local and state laws and filed a lawsuit.

The SUHSD's arrogance will once again prove costly.

All the SUHSD needs to do is to engage with its neighbors rather than trying to act like an arrogant bully. I am confident that there is a win-win solution BUT the District has to be prepared to work with its neighbors.

The School Board assures the neighbors that the lights will just be used for football games and yet an MA parent states "My daughter is a soccer player at M-A and they have to call games due to darkness all the time. It is DANGEROUS to play in the dark, the girls and boys cannot see what is going on, and there have been several needless injuries due to the darkness." Clearly the District is not putting all of its cards on the table.


This will not turn out well unless the District makes a good faith and public outreach to the community. Secret meetings with carefully chosen neighbors do not constitute acceptable outreach. I am sure that both the Lindenwood Homeowners Association and the Atherton Civic Interest League would be pleased to assist.


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Posted by Dismayed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Residents should be more outraged about the Marijuana club that plans open on El Camino on the boarder of Atherton. The building department sent out the meeting notice on Thursday about this morning's 9am meeting. Just what that location needs...more pot to go with the alcoholics and prostitutes.


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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

Why, I tell you, this is just getting intolerable how people break one rule after another....or should I say LAW?
Nothing like this would happen in Hillsborough. Or Woodside.
Actually, the water dancing in Kuala Lampur has spurts which are lit which reach almost 200 feet and are quite lovely.


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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

Though I personally do not like the effect of marijuana and suffer no pain that is consistent, I certainly do approve of it after hearing some rather wonderful stories of how it has helped ailing elders, and cancer patients from suffering excruciating pain.
It has been around for hundreds of generations and it was legal except for a mistake on the government's part.
A definite cash crop.


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Posted by Hal
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm

This is probably the same group of Lindenwood snobs that opposed the Performing Arts Center, and it's doubtful that since completed that it has infringed on their lifestyles at all. My suggestion to them is to attend an M-A game and get into the spirit of their own community that THEY chose to buy into! Geeeshh!


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Aug 16, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Why not ask the school district to report how often the lights are on at the other district schools?

I live near Woodside High and can report that the field lights were on every night last week, and were typically on most nights during the school year all year long.

It's definitely not just home football games. It's home games, football practice Monday thru Thursday, soccer games and practices, rugby, field rentals on Saturday nights for other teams and leagues to use, etc, etc.

Unless M-A is totally different from Woodside High, the neighbors are correct in assuming the lights will be on 200-250 nights a year, usually until 10-10:30pm.


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Posted by Same old tricks
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I live at the top of the hill, west of the Alameda, Atherton/menlo park boarder in Sharon Heights.
I can see the lights and hear ridiculously loud P.A. system from the Woodside campus from what has to be 3 or 4 mies away.
I feel terrible for the neighbors who are closer--say on upper Stockbridge or Mesa Court and every where else even closer--the light and noise have to devalue the real estate that is impacted


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm

To be fair, the "loud PA system" is normally only used during actual games/events, not practices. Now if that only mean just Woodside High football games, instead of Woodside plus everyone they rent the field to and Pop Warner for 12 hours a day during their season that would be better.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm

The Sequoia Union High School District has never given a lick about what neighbors or taxpayers think about anything.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm

POGO states:"The Sequoia Union High School District has never given a lick about what neighbors or taxpayers think about anything."

Maybe it is time for Menlo Park and Atherton residents to run 3 or 4 very well financed candidates for the SUHSD Board. There is no doubt that a well financed campaign could easily gain control of this Board.
And even gaining one seat would guarantee that local concerns were at least on the agenda.

In the last election 9500 votes would have been enough to win.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:54 pm

re: Woodside and Pop Warner

Pop Warner only uses it for games, not practices, and only 6 days a year, usually done around 7pm.

re: "...have to devalue the real estate that is impacted"

Impacted beyond the lower price they paid for knowingly buying the house near to the school?


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Aug 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Maybe it's not Pop Warner, but there is some youth football league that plays at Woodside High on weekends during football season (I think Saturdays but it may be Sunday, I can't recall). They start with the first little kid games at 8am, and the last big kids game typically end at 8 or 9pm. The lights go on at dusk, and the worst part is that the PA system is loud and they do play by play for every single game, for 12 straight hours.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Anonymous asks:"Impacted beyond the lower price they paid for knowingly buying the house near to the school? "

The Woodside and MA High Schools that people purchased homes next to ten yaers ago have changed dramatically and without ANY consultation with the impacted neighbors - including the ones miles away who can hear the PA systems and see the lights. This is why we have zoning ordinances - to prevent unreasonable changes by adjacent properties. Sadly the SUHSD is above such careful planning and consultation.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Peter:

it's very interesting how you take Menlo park to task for making it hard on the developers of the old Gaylords property who were required to abide by the zoning ordinances, yet when someone doesn't in your neighborhood you're up in arms.


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Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2010 at 6:56 pm

This is the first time I've ever read any article about caring or concern for our teen generation and THEIR activities.
Naturally, it has to be a bummer.
Doesn't anyone ever get tired of bitching and complaining or suing people because it disturbs their old lives?
This is NOT a fun place to grow up for teens or do they get much support from the people who live in the GOLDEN CORRIDOR......
Maybe people are experiencing a long term melt down.


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Posted by JustAsking
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 16, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Why do you complain about high school sports activities when you knew when you purchased your home that it was located adjacent to a high school? Didn't you notice M-A or were you blinded by the Atherton address?
Think about this:
School sports are an important and necessary outlet for our children.
Sports help teens grow up healthy and fit, learn to be part of a team, teach them that they are an integral part of their school.
They also help build a sense of a supportive community for those who view these teens at play.
We do not have enough facilities to take care of all the sporting teams in the area as it is and I think that upgrading M-A's field with a sound system will only come back tenfold in terms of how these young athletes will grow up to be a credit to our city.

Why not go to M-A's games and join in the fun???? After all, a great school only increases property values when you sell!!!


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Posted by football player
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 16, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Atherton residents are the most finicky, selfish, unreasonable people on Earth. I'm embarrassed to be an Atherton resident. Isn't it so difficult when you have to accommodate positive activities for teens. Being intruded upon when there is noise at 9 o'clock and lights are on, life is so tough! While shutting your blinds and windows would eliminate these problems, hey, filing a lawsuit is probably waaaay easier. Have some understanding that when you bought a house directly next to a high school, you should have known you'd have to deal with high school activities. When we play our games, we need lights. It's that simple. There isn't that much we can do to accommodate you without being forced to miss the majority of a school day.


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

Football Player states:"When we play our games, we need lights. It's that simple."

He says it so well - a perfect example of the selfish, arrogant youths that we are paying to "educate' at MA.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Just asking states:"Sports help teens grow up healthy and fit, learn to be part of a team, teach them that they are an integral part of their school."

Like in ""When we play our games, we need lights. It's that simple."

What will these kids do when they go out into the real world?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Peter:

intersting when YOUR oxe is being gored it's a whole different world!


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Selfish is hosting a home game against a Pop Warner team from Hollister, forcing the families to drive to Menlo Park on both Saturday and Sunday to play their four age groups, because the Atherton neighbors want restrictive hours. Not because of daytime noise, just because.

Selfish is asking Menlo Park to host most of the Little League practice & games, because the backstop is displeasing to the look of fine Holbrook-Palmer Park.

Atherton: exactly how many ball fields are in the town limits? Maybe sports aren't really important. Let them blog news forums, instead.

And to name some kids who joined the real world after High School football (and no, I wouldn't stereotype any as arrogant): Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush & Gerald Ford.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2010 at 10:37 pm

This lawsuit is yet another indication of the failure in leadership within the Atherton Town Government.

What appears to be lost on the folks contributing to this forum is that MA's lights are illegal.

The lights at MA were at issue when I worked for the Town. The issue back then was that the Sequoia Unified High School District had not taken the action to exempt itself from local zoning ordinances.

If I am not mistaken, the Sequoia Unified High School District Board did not take action back then, nor has it since, to exempt itself from local zoning ordinances.

This means that unless SUHSD gets a conditional use permit, it is in violation of Atherton's zoning ordinance.

So a pertinent question is: Why the Town's code enforcement officer addressing this issue? Why don't Atherton residents have the confidence in their Town government to protect their right to the quiet enjoyment of their property? Why doesn't the City Attorney weigh in on this issue.

The answer is quite simple. SUHSD sees the opportunity to take advantage of the chaos and paralysis at Town Hall. SUHSD knows that the Town has bigger headaches at the moment.



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Posted by Just Asking
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 16, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Peter Carpenter,
To answer your question, perhaps they will end up in the NFL and you will brag to your exclusive neighbors that he/they used to play ball for M-A at the field near your house!


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Posted by Just A
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 16, 2010 at 11:42 pm

HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED EMMY AWARD WINNING "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS?" IT EXPOSES FOR THE VIEWER ALL THE LIFE LESSONS LEARNED WHILE PLAYING HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL UNDER THE LIGHTS. CAN'T OUR LOCAL KIDS BE AFFORDED THE SAME OPPORTUNITY WITHOUT LAWSUITS BEING FILED BY CONTENTIOUS, SELFISH NEIGHBORS/


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 17, 2010 at 5:59 am

I am amazed to learn from the above comments that all of the decades of MA graduates who did not have the benefit of lights on their football field were deprived and their careers stunted by this neglect.

And please tell me why the SUHSD cannot have an open discussion with its neighbors about the proposed lighting including the location, height, shielding, wattage and the conditions and frequency of use of those lights?

Since the lights in the Performing Arts Center are usually left on at all hours why should the neighbors not expect the same for these lights?

And I would note that I doubt that these lights will impact me because I live about a mile from the school. However, I am very concerned about the SUHSD's lack of an open process on this issue - as I was by their appointing a new superintendent in secret without once telling the citizens who the candidate was and offering the public the right of comment on that candidate BEFORE he was appointed.

The ox that is being gored is public participation in the SUHSD's decision process.


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Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 17, 2010 at 8:02 am

I've read through this thread and haven't seen mentioned the cost of installing, maintaining, and operating the lights. In a time when we should be good stewards of our finances this seems to be a luxury. Football games can be played on Saturdays when there's daylight.

But all one has to do is look at the major face-lift MA has received recently and wonder then next time we are asked for a bond measure or tax increase what the money is really going towards. I favor education, but when money is tight shouldn't we be smart about how we spend it, or do I expect too much logic here?


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2010 at 8:34 am

I am pasting in a post I made earlier on this subject since the Almanac hasn't seen fit to merge the two related dialogs. To my previous comments, which do not address whether or not night football games make teenagers better adults, but rather addresses the long history of the SUHSD not taking the issues of communities around its campuses into consideration, I add the following. In an article in the Daily Post yesterday, SUHSD Board member, Alan Sarver, claimed that the District is having an environmental review conducted of the installation of permanent lighting and thus has not made a final decision. Frankly, I don't believe this to be true; especially given a separate report that the Board President indicated such a study wasn't conducted because it wasn't required. If such a study is being conducted I would ask the Almanac to secure a copy of the specification and the name of the professional consulting firm doing the study. Here are my previous comments--
Its too bad that many people who read and post on this forum have such short term memories--or maybe its selective retention. This is yet another example in a growing list of instances where the SUHSD repeatedly and consistently displays it arrogance and lack of regard for the opinions of citizens who live around their campuses or in the district/ Just to remind those with memory challenges of a fcouple of recent gems--the MA Performing Arts Center, built without benefit of any environmental or architectural review or even a traffic study-why, because "we didn't have to do one". The behind closed door selection of a new Superintendent, without any thought of public input or doing a search, -- why, because "we didn't have to". This isn't about whether or not the kids need lighted fields, or whether or not the MAPAC was worth the millions it cost, or whether or not the new superintendent is well qualified; its about an elected body of officials (the district school board) should adequately seek public input and exhibit at least some level of transparency in executing their elected roles. Its obvious to me that a couple of new faces on the Board and a new face in the superintendents office have done nothing to change Gemmaville.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 17, 2010 at 9:29 am

WhoRUPeople -

You got it exactly right. This isn't so much about whether lights are good or bad. There are valid arguments on both sides. Just because someone bought a home near a high school doesn't mean they must go along with every single modification to that school. Large, blaring light towers can certainly be an imposition. It's also easy to understand why lights are needed for their sports activities.

There should be limits to both and I would guess reasonable people could come to an agreement on this issue. Perhaps FIRM limits to the light use (number of days, and duration) and FIRM limits to loudspeaker use. This is not unreasonable.

But to WhoRUPeople's point, the Sequoia Union High School District doesn't want to discuss the issue, they want to cram it down their throat. They did it with the Performing Arts Center and they're doing it again.

When government is doing something that impacts you, your neighborhood and your lifestyle, a little conversation is the least you should expect from officials.


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Posted by FACTCHECKER
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 17, 2010 at 9:43 am

The Atherton residents who filed the lawsuit are not concerned about the cost of installation and maintenance of lights at the field as POGO suggests. They are only concerned with the lower valuation of their nearby property due to its proximity to the long-existing field. They only react to NIMBY.


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Posted by Andre Driscoll
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 17, 2010 at 9:51 am

As a former highschool and NCAA athlete, I completely agree that sports are an important component of developing a well-rounded youth. Yet this dogmatic anger directed at MA's neighbors who are opposed to the lights is extraordinarily troubling.

I'm in agreement with Peter Carpenter that the SUHSD is behaving arrogantly, as are these name-calling adherents. It's almost like dealing with the HSRA and its advocates.

There's nothing selfish about wanting to maintain a certain quality of life in Atherton (or anywhere else for that matter). Purchasing a home near a school or other public facility doesn't automatically obligate the buyer to passively accept whatever unbridled plans for expansion an institution chooses to implement.

The argument that "you bought next to a school, so too bad" is only one side of the coin. MA was built into an existing community, and we could rightly argue "you built into a community that had certain standards and limitations on growth, so too bad, no lights."

I too, Mr. Carpenter, worry about some of the youth we are raising when I read comments like those of "football player." I worry because they are so coddled and spoiled by getting their own way that their world view is irreparably skewed and they will never empathasize or see other's perspectives. And this is underscored by his sentiment that "finicky" and "selfish" Atherton neighbors should simply allow the lights and shutter themselves inside their homes.

What will happen when the world is in their hands? I wish we could see this level of engagement over an expenditure on academics instead of sports.


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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2010 at 10:45 am

If anyone bought a home near a school with a football field, they did it for reasons which either meant they were not quite rich enough to be in an area which avoided the pitfalls that go with it, or like the people who think the lights will lower the values of their properties......It isn't even a conundrum. It is ridicululous.
It is just another reason to bitch.
To squabble.
To equate the next generations with our past ones and the way WE had to do it.
Isn't progress and evolution as parents meant to pass on to our progeny and hope they get that which those came up from nothing and now live in the glamorous GOLDEN CORRIDOR of Atherton,Woodside; also Menlo Park, and the other areas ALMANAC serves?
While everyone considers San Mateo County as relatively upscale area, it still is NOT BEL AIR in Los Angeles, and not even Beverly Hills. It ONCE was quite grand except when the noveaux started making money and moved in. With certain people, money creates attitude and with attitude comes demands and with demands come split opinions.
Therefore, why you see so much battling going on along the G.C., is because of GREED and very little real interest in the actual world as it exists outside of this melange of social "unequals" as most people seem to view one another.
The VERY RICH could care less and will move on where the crowds cannot push them (ME) out. I personally find most of the discussions here very un American and I have often spotted bigotry and racism which I personally have always made a point to fight.
After the lights go out......what is next? Concentrate on the growth of your kids and their minds and their sense of fair play.


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Posted by noblesse oblige
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 17, 2010 at 10:49 am

Many of the neighbors live on property that was originally owned by the district. The district sold off those parcels (in retrospect, perhaps not a very smart move). The school may have been built into an existing community, but most of those nearby homes are much newer than the school.

I appreciate that the neighbors want to have all the advantages of living next to a school (nice to have that track nearby, and all that grass to exercise your dog or play catch with your kids) without the drawbacks, but Atherton really does not pull its weight in this community as far as recreation is concerned. Kids play soccer every weekend at Burgess; ever see a soccer game at Holbrook Palmer? Atherton families rely almost 100% on Menlo Park recreational facilities.

M-A neighbors may argue that they should not have to bear the brunt of providing recreational opportunities, and maybe that's true. But to many of us, this looks like the typical Atherton tempest-in-teapot syndrome: having lights at the field is not going to make a big difference in their lives, and if they hadn't been told about the installation, many would not have noticed. After all, in June it's still light until 9 pm, and I'm sure there are some Atherton residents who are frustrated that they can't find anyone to sue about that.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 17, 2010 at 10:50 am

FACT CHECKER (sic) -

You may want to re-read my post. I never once mentioned "the cost of installation and maintenance of lights at the field" as you say I suggested.

And you call yourself "FACT CHECKER?" With that kind of accuracy, you must be employed by the SUHSD!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 17, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Noblesse oblige states:"The school may have been built into an existing community, but most of those nearby homes are much newer than the school. "

ALL of the nearby homes were built BEFORE M-A engaged in its massive expansion. Normally property owners are protected by zoning ordinances from such massive growth by their neighbors but not in this case as the District simply does whatever it pleases. Small wonder that the school's neighbors feel ignored and abused.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm

"Small wonder that the school's neighbors feel ignored and abused."

So ignored they file lawsuits at the drop of a hat. How did that PAC lawsuit work out for the town?

Massive expansion? Yeah, these kids should make do with the same school we had in the fifties; darn arrogant, spoiled kids.

And the haters are the ones, whom in some other thread, are belittling education because we can't keep up with other states or countries.

And in another thread, bemoaning the lack of "personal responsibility", all the while moaning about their choice to buy next to a school, instead of a nice West Menlo home not bordering on a school.

Had to have that big A address?


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Posted by M-A Supporter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm

The school has a right to install and operate the lights in a reasonable fashion. That should be the focus of the conversation between neighbors and school/district staff.

I do not see how disparaging teenagers who want to play sports for their neighborhood high school is either fair or appropriate.

I do not see how it makes them spoiled or entitled.

I do not see why some would apparently like the school to look like it once did (e.g. a dilapidated detention facility).

A lawsuit will certainly generate one thing--billable hours for attorneys who do not live in the community. It is certain to waste school district dollars better spend on facility improvements or lowered class size.

I support public education, I support attractive schools, and I support the young people of our community who attend Menlo-Atherton.

I wish others did as well.




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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Anonymous and M-A Supporter need to reread the previous postings.
The ONLY person who used the word hate was anonymous.

No one disparaged teenagers who want to play sports for their neighborhood high school.

"they file lawsuits at the drop of a hat" is hardly the case when the neighbors have been urging the District to sit down in a public session and discuss this issue ever since it was first proposed and the District simply ignored their pleas.

If you want to have an honest discussion please don't try to put words in other people's mouths.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I've said all along this isn't about sports or lights vs. no lights, but MA Supporter and Noblese Oblige comments require me to pose this question--and I do so as a taxpayer in SM County/California, not as a resident of either MP or A--Millions of dollars for a performing arts center, unknown thousands of dollars for lights for a sports field; California, including the SUHSD in total, is like #49 or #50 in the nation in terms of academic achievement nationwide, so other than developing kids with talent as actors and jocks, how is my tax money being spent appropriately?


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Posted by Marion O
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 17, 2010 at 2:53 pm

That's it. I'm out of patience. Fortunately I'm not out of money.

I'm having my agent look into buying Menlo Atherton High School to keep those damm lights from going up.

Now if I can just get the whole campus declared a historical artifact I might be able to get it at an affordable price.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm

"how is my tax money being spent appropriately?"

It is being spent just like everyone's taxes.

At the discretion of voters, either through bond votes, or by our elected officials.


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Posted by Menlo Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Atherton residents have always made me laugh. Just by reading the police blotter you can get a decent sense of the people that live in the area, "man calls police because he sees a stranger in his yard, stranger turns out to be the gardner". How dare this highschool try to improve their facilities, making the games more exciting while simultaneously cultivating community pride!!! Whats next, we have a farmers market that has the audacity to take away parking spots from residents. Tell you what, why don't we device a plan to make sure if anybody decides to do anything that remotely angers us, or any third person party we resolve the situation by suing their pants off. Or we could stop being such curmudgeons and let thousands of teenagers live the dream of being able to play sports under bright lights.


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Posted by thetruth
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm

The same crybabies about HSR


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm

All of the pro light posters seem to have ignored the basic fact that the suit is NOT against having light at the high school but rather to compel the SUHSD to comply with the laws before it installs those lights.

"The Sequoia Union High School District has failed to comply with town regulations, including those on lighting of athletic fields and noise, and state regulations on environmental impacts."

Are the pro light posters saying that the District should simply ignore whichever laws it finds inconvenient? Or that each of us should only obey those laws which we like?


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Posted by Hal
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 17, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Peter Carpenter....get a life!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Hal states:Peter Carpenter....get a life!"

I have a great life - the Town Forum takes about 0.5% of my time and I find it a stimulating experience in trying to keep governments open and honest and in debating important community issues with informed posters.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2010 at 10:20 pm

All I've seen from the likes of "Hal", "thetruth", "FACTCHECKER" and others who object to the use of civil courts to as a forum for redress are attacks on those who initiated the lawsuit or those who write in support of the lawsuit.

None of the three mentioned above have a rebuttal against the point I have made, WhoRUpeople made or Peter Carpenter made.

Until SUHSD gets a permit it is breaking the law. This isn't the kind of behavior or values one hopes to indoctrinate our youth in is it?

What am I missing here? I don't think I'm missing anything frankly. I think that those who support MA's lights don't care about the rule of law. They just care about getting their way.

Untill such time as those who support MA are able to show that MA has the legal right and the authority to install the lights, they those few in Lindenwood who have chosen to sue are well within their rights.

While they are at it they ought to sue the Town for failing to enforce the Town's zoning ordinance.


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Posted by unreal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 18, 2010 at 7:22 am

These people who live near an airport and complain about the planes, live near train tracks and complain about the trains, live near a school and complain about the noise...GET A GRIP...you knew what was near you when you bought...deal with it!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 7:54 am

Get a grip on the facts - The complaint is about the law not being obeyed.


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Posted by JustAsking
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 18, 2010 at 7:58 am

John P. Johns,
Boy, do you have me wrong. I am a product liability lawyer who represents individuals who are injured or killed by defective products. I am certainly not adverse to using the vehicle of a lawsuit where no other means seems to work. However, suing a school district is not like suing other entities. They are a special category and in some cases do not have to go through the permit process.
I just think that high school sports are a good outlet for teens and support whatever means available to make them available for our youth. I also oppose the way we are gutting our California schools. We, the taxpayers, will be paying for that in years to come. Very shortsided.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

Unreal -

Just because you live near an airport, doesn't mean they can start flying in C-17s all through the night.

This doesn't mean the school shouldn't be able to use lights for football games - but they should at least HAVE THE COURTESY to engage with the impacted neighborhood and come up with a reasonable plan.

Unfortunately, the SUHSD never does...


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:49 am

Want a real good learning experience for the M-A students?

Have the football team take on the responsibility for outreach to the neighbors on this issue. Both sides would learn a lot and I am sure that they would come to a mutually acceptable plan. Of course the Board would have to commit in advance to accepting whatever plan the students were able to negotiate.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 18, 2010 at 10:22 am

If it's about the Law, and not about lights (uh-huh, that doesn't even come close to passing the sniff test,) why not have the Grand Jury look into it?

And Peter: Nice try, I never said they used the word "hate", did I?

I referred to them as "haters." It's a word from the younger set's lexicon. Didn't use that word back in the fifties at MA, which is where the haters think we should go back to.

"If it was good enough for us when we were in school..." Don't need no liberal arts, no sports, no modern construction to code. Give 'em the three R's!!!

;-)


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 10:35 am

Anonymous - it is probably best that you stay anonymous because your arguments and your logic raise a lot of questions about your ability to reason and debate.

"I never said they used the word "hate", did I? I referred to them as "haters." You indicted yourself on this point.

"If it's about the Law, and not about lights (uh-huh, that doesn't even come close to passing the sniff test,) why not have the Grand Jury look into it?" Until the actually put up the lights without having met the legal requirements no law has been broken. The lawsuit simply asks that they be compelled, against their stated desires, to comply with the law.


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Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

I believe Peter Carpenter to be the most honest person who lives by integrity and believes in following the law to the letter. Otherwise laws would not have been written.
The pity of it all is that he is burning up his time with smaller issues and would be of better use to this totally corrupt area by dealing with higher government and the misdeeds which have made America into a third rate power.
Peter.....ignore these squabbles and get involved with the crime and corruption which affect the people who count.
Those who still think like you.
I am sure you do your share already, but I find it a waste of your efforts to play Henry Fonda in this local production of GRAPES OF WRATH.
I admire you very much and your integrity, although I do believe that there are many laws which must be changed in this area, just as I believe that laws in the Constitution which could be changed or ammendments made to suit the growing and dying planet which has absolutely no form or shape and therefore, makes the future of life on this planet totally unpredictable. The main bickering which goes on in ALMANAC is from people with false values, or just overblown egos and have very little interest in their neighbor.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:49 pm

""I never said they used the word "hate", did I? I referred to them as "haters." You indicted yourself on this point."

au contrere mon frere

You claimed I said others used the word hate. I didn't do that. That's different than calling them haters.

What IS the meaning of "is", Mr President?

And other than you, the esteemed Pogo, and a couple other locals, everyone else on this blog seems to think the "haters" need to get with the program and start supporting kids, schools and the community, not filing another frivolous lawsuit that will cost the school district resources and tax dollars.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Mr Gordon:

Sorry, what a load of hooey. Please reread that post of yours, as if it was written by someone with whom you had a differing opinion. And it ends with:

"The main bickering which goes on in ALMANAC is from people with false values, or just overblown egos and have very little interest in their neighbor."

False values?

Sanctimonious. Either that, or I've finally met the ultimate arbiter of Correct Values.

Little interest in their neighbor?

It seems a couple NIMBY neighbors, only one named, have near zero interest in the larger community.


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Posted by Football Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm

My head is spinning so forgive me if I'm a little off base here. First of all, I'd like to applaud the football player for taking the risk to make his feelings known. I just wish he had put a little more care into his choice of words.

That being said, I'd like to add a little light on a few subjects. As an active football association parent, I can tell you that the association has been working very hard with the school district and members of the community - many of whom have players or had players on the team. This line of discussion is painful as in good faith we have done what we could to create a situation that could be accepted by as many as possible.

Did you attend the first ever Friday night lights football game last fall? It was a wonderful event filled with good natured rivalry, community spirit and healthy fun. Ity was an amazing community bonding experience. The team truely appreciated the support from those outside the school community. We had people in the neighborhood to evaluate the impact of the lights and traffic. Overall, the response from those living closest to the school was positive and there were no reports of vandalism or damage to the knowledge of the football family.

To the best of my knowledge, school funds will NOT be spent on lights. The football association and boosters have been raising money to pay for the lights. And much of the proceeds from last fall's Friday Night lights event will help to cover the costs.

Now while we never can expect to please all of the people all of the time, I'd like everyone here to think about how this situation will truely impact them. Unfortunately the Lindenwood neighborhood has made an embarrassment of themselves in the community over some of the things they have done in the past. Don't get me wrong, everyone has rights, there are laws, but sometimes enough is enough. Do we really need to have a lawsuit? Do we really need to take money away from teaching our students?

Many football players have been involved with this process and have learned a great deal. One of the biggest concerns for these players is that they miss so much class time for day time games. Most schools in the area prefer to play on Friday nights.

So I ask you to think about what we can do to make this community a more inviting and safe place for the teens who live here. Is it really that bad to have a place where teens can enjoy a healthy and safe night out? We are not talking about a small group of boys on the field. We are talking about an entire community of teenagers and their families. Let's welcome them with open arms and set a positive example of how we can overcome differences of opinion and work in the best interest of the overall community! This is an opportunity to create a tradition for people of all ages to come together, have some fun and not spend a fortune!


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Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 18, 2010 at 1:25 pm

There has been much discussion regarding the process of SUHSD, their decision making process and interaction with neighbors. That aside here are my questions:

1) why does MA need lights anyway? what's wrong with playing games on a Saturday? We did it when I was in high school, and it was just as spirited and fun. And, yes, I recognize arguments can be made for spirited games under the lights, but is this the best way to spend money right now? The overall cost for hosting a night game will be more than a day game.

2) what about the other neighbors besides those in Lindenwood who will be affected? Any thought given to them.

The decision to install lights has many more ripple effects than people realize.


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Apparently the school district believes that their plans comply with laws and reguations. It's unfortunate that there is a lawsuit, but maybe this will sort things out. I am not familiar with Atherton land-use ordinances but from a very brief search, I found only a reference to a 34ft structural limit applies to Residential structures. Interested to understand which laws or ordinances apply to the school - whether this is an issue of compliance, process, or displeasure.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Central Menlo asks:"Interested to understand which laws or ordinances apply to the school - whether this is an issue of compliance, process, or displeasure."
There is some question as to the applicability of Atherton's height ;limit ordinance to the school property. There is no question that the school district must comply with the environmental assessment laws before they install these lights.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 18, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Football Mom -

It is easy to point out all of the good things that will flow from lighting up the football fields. Yes, I know all about "Friday Night Lights" and I still remember going to my Friday night football games. I can't disagree with you about any of it.

When I throw a big party at my house, we have a blast. But like Menlo-Atherton school, I have neighbors and I have to be considerate of them. I can't have parties every night and I can't keep them going all hours of the night.

In this case, it's not about lights and I don't even think it's about law. It's about courtesy.

There have been several posts about the noise, lights and public address systems at Woodside High. Fortunately, I live far enough away that it isn't an issue for me, but it's not hard for anyone to understand these complaints. If you lived nearby, I'm sure you wouldn't appreciate having all of your evenings interrupted by a PA system booming something like "now batting for Woodside High...." or "Touchdown, Menlo-Atherton!"

And for those who claim, "well, they moved into that neighborhood knowing there was a high school there", you must admit that those same people also moved into their neighborhood knowing there were no night games on the athletic fields, either. That's undeniable.

And that's the issue here. The SUHSD shouldn't play the "we're exempt from your stinkin' laws" to this neighborhood. That's begging for a lawsuit. The district should ENGAGE these neighbors. They are the ones that will be dealing with the lights and sound you extoll long after your child has graduated from M-A and long after you've moved on. They have to live with it and they deserve the simple courtesy of being heard and not having this shoved down their throat.

My suggestion would be to come up with a reasonable accommodation. The district should be willing to specify the number of nights and duration for which the lights and sound will be used (and when they will always be turned off) and they should be willing to stick to their agreement. It's no different than what is required for a conditional use permit.

The school can get its lights and enjoy some evenings, the neighbors can plan accordingly and enjoy their peace.


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Posted by School Supporter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Let the kids have the lights and night football games--it's all part
of the high school experience. When you purchase property near
a school, you have to anticipate and cope with change.

By the way, many of us in Lindenwood are very supportive
of lights at M-A.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

School Supporter states:"many of us in Lindenwood are very supportive
of lights at M-A. "

That fine, particularly if, like me, you live far enough away from the lights so that they are not an issue.

But I doubt that many of us in Lindenwood are very supportive of the school district ignoring the law or not engaging in public consultations with the affected neighbors. Open discussions with all of the affected on the height, location, shielding and conditions of use for the lights and the related PA system would be mutually beneficial.

The failure to do that has left the affected neighbors with no alternative but to file suit - not a great message by the school district to the students on how to deal with conflict.


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Posted by Y'all R Stupid
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 18, 2010 at 10:20 pm

[Post deleted. Please try to avoid attacking other posters.]


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Posted by ProLights
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 18, 2010 at 10:37 pm

No question about it, Y'all R Stupid is really smart!


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 19, 2010 at 9:20 am

Does anyone have information...on which regulations or laws are referenced in this issue. Is it CEQA? Are there specific Atherton regulations that apply to SUSHD? It seems the three issues would be noise (PA and crowd), lights, and structures. Not clear how any or all (if any) are governed by laws & regulations. Or is this whole thing around whether SUHSD should involve neighbors (whether they are required to do so...or doing this would change any opinions).

From the article:
"Lawsuit: 'The Sequoia Union High School District has failed to comply with town regulations, including those on lighting of athletic fields and noise, and state regulations on environmental impacts'...The school district's obligations are limited in that the state grants public schools an exemption from local zoning requirements."

Which regulations?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 19, 2010 at 9:46 am

Central Menlo - as already stated above - There is some question as to the applicability of Atherton's height ;limit ordinance to the school property. There is no question that the school district must comply with the environmental assessment laws (CEQA) before they install these lights. The school district "self proclaimed" that this project is exempt from CEQA - hence the lawsuit.

Had the district engaged in open and serious outreach to the neighbors to develop a mutually acceptable plan on the height, location, shielding and conditions of use for the lights and the related PA system I seriously doubt hat there would be a law suit.

Arrogance has its price.


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 19, 2010 at 10:15 am

Based on the tenor of this forum, it's not clear that outreach with neighbors would have been productive. Mind you, I'm not suggesting it would not have helped. As far as CEQA or regulations go, I haven't seen anything in this discussion that suggests SUHSD is wrong in what they planned, or that they weren't justified in taking the position they did. Maybe a lawsuit is exactly the way to reach judgement quickly and fairly. If the courts work the way we want them to, they will sort through the laws and regulations that apply, and deliver a fair decision.

An analogy might be whether I choose to drive 25 in a posted-30mph school zone, after 6pm on a holiday. Should I drive 25mph? Prudence might say yes. Is it okay to drive 30mph? Probably. My bet is that SUHSD thinks it's okay drive 30mph in this issue, based on existing regulations. And they might be right. Or not. Probably.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 19, 2010 at 10:25 am

Central Menlo -

Actually, it's not quite like driving 30 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. Your actions impact no one.

The SUHSD's actions are more like a neighbor deciding to replace their single family home with a 5 story apartment building. None of the neighbors "signed up" for that.

Your skepticism that an "outreach with neighbors would have been productive" may be correct... but the real shame of SUHSD's leadership is that we'll never know, will we?

I still think it would have been nice for the SUHSD to have been a good neighbor and shown this simple courtesy by convening a neighborhood meeting (perhaps they could have used that Performing Arts Center...).

As I've said before, I think a reasonable accommodation would be to set limits on the use of lights and sound.


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Posted by M-A Supporter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm

It is time to make sure our community has accurate information about the process for getting lights for Coach Parks Field. Here are the facts: A group of M-A parents and community members approached the school board about a year ago to let them know we believed that having lights would be a huge asset to our school and community for a number of different reasons. The very first thing we were told by school board members was that we would need to take neighbors concerns into consideration. This is NOT something they needed to do. They could have asked for, and received, an exemption, but instead they wanted to involve neighbors in the process and make sure their concerns were taken into consideration. Our first step was to pass out over 300 flyers to M-A neighbors to let them know there would be a meeting (it was held on November 12th at M-A) to have a conversation about adding lights to the field. There have been at least four additional meetings where neighbors had the opportunity to voice their concerns (Dec. 16, Jan. 20, March 17, May 18). School board members also met with neighbors individually. These meetings are the way every municipality communicates with their constituency. At the meeting on May 18, the superintendent shared with neighbors who attended exactly when and how often the lights would be used. This information is available on the district's website. Additionally, the temporary lights were suggested by neighbors so they would have a chance to evaluate the lights and see what issues might occur. The school board agreed to this concession and approved the temporary lights.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 20, 2010 at 7:37 am

Thank you M-A Supporter for providing some very helpful facts. It appears that there WAS significant outreach to the community.

After reviewing the minutes of the June 9, 2010 Board meeting I can see why there might still be some concerns by the neighbors. The lights will be used EVERY Monday though Friday until 8 PM plus the lights and the PA system will be used for 8 football, 8 soccer and 8 lacrosse games on Fridays.


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Posted by Diogenes
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Aug 20, 2010 at 9:13 am

Diogenes is a registered user.

Might the people who oppose the lights actually oppose the presence after dark of the parents of MA students of color from "across 101"? Very few of our neighbors "on the other side" can afford to miss work to see their sons play football on a weekday or even on a Saturday day game. Were there lights and a conventional HS football schedule, parents who must work during the day could attend. Might this fear of the increased presence of people of color explain the near hysteria of the opponents?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

Diogenes asks:"Might this fear of the increased presence of people of color explain the near hysteria of the opponents?"

There is no evidence of such a fear and no sign of near hysteria. And there is no need to attempt to create racial strife when none exists - M-A has been a very diverse community for a very long time.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 20, 2010 at 9:51 am

First, many thanks to M-A Supporter for the clarifications. It does appear that a lot of work was done by the SUHSD so I stand corrected! I would hope that the district stands by its representations.

Second, Diogenes, your insinuation is despicable and not worthy of further comment.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

While the M-A community probably has good intentions with respect to racial harmony, the school has a history of racial problems.

These problems seem to be mostly in the past, and Atherton residents themselves have had no part in it to my knowledge, but I have heard reliable and recent reports from a white parent involved with M-A football who said that a persistent racial divide exists when parents get together for booster-like activities.

A similar effect can be seen in the seating arrangements at games, I was told. As can also be seen on campus during lunch.

All this is not to say that peoples' intentions are not in the right place, just that much more needs to be done -- and that it likely will be neither easy nor quick.


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Posted by BoarderMom
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 20, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Years ago, we looked at buying a house on Ringwood across from where the new wrestling building gym and pool sit. It didn't take but a nanosecond to realize that one day the school would build on the vacant land and then tear down the existing structures, which is what did happen. Buyer beware if you purchase a home near a school. Look what is happening over at Hillview.


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Posted by REALITY CHECK
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm

EXACTLY!
DEVALUED PROPERTY
GIVE AN INCH-LOOSE A LOT MORE


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Posted by REALLY CHIC
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 20, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Yeah, we wouldn't want to loose any property value.

Is this about property value? No doubt maintaining our school, building performing arts centers and adding stadium lights will surely drive continued appreciation for the collective school district. It's a good thing.

And my, oh my, oh my, we're destroying our city and schools by replacing vintage school buildings with public-funded renovations and state-of-the-art architecture.

BTW, Diogenes makes a valid point, if not masked by an unfortunate choice of words. Whether it is explicit, or not, it may be discriminatory to host day-only games. Subtle though. It's just that the wealthier part of town hasn't noticed. Watch out, those crazies might want wheelchair ramps on the sidewalks, too.

Dare I say that lot of these posts read like a steaming heap of emotion, with a modicum of experience and wee bits of facts peeking through. Here, here, for facts and experience.

Beyond the many opinions, could we find a solution by trying a few nights with lights and announcers? Let's see and hear if that gorgeous canopy of trees, distant from the playing field will do their part in balancing the benefit and detriment.

Or we can conduct a full EIR and hire experts to provide their opinion. And then, let's grow frustrated by speaking our mind and filing a lawsuit because we've mistaken a difference of opinion for not being heard.


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Posted by noblesse oblige
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 20, 2010 at 9:45 pm

When Encinal was considering installing an adult-sized soccer field a few years ago, the neighbors were opposed, and it was pretty clear from talking to them that many had reasons that were racially based. They didn't want "those people" wandering around near their homes, drinking beer, littering, and using foul language.

In that case, the full-sized turf field was not an appropriate use of space at an elementary school, so there was other opposition and the bigots ended up on the winning side.

I don't know if the M-A neighbors possess a similar mindset, but having the fields lit from "Monday though Friday until 8 PM" hardly seems as though it will be a major inconvenience for anyone. It's light outdoors now until 8 pm! I wonder if the neighbors would be more accepting of the lights if the fields were to be used only for children of Atherton residents?


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 21, 2010 at 9:43 am

It is a sad commentary on the state of our society when people can make a neighborhood's concerns about lighting a football field into a racial issue.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 21, 2010 at 10:31 am

If noblesse oblige, Joe and Diogenes want to have a discussion on racial issues at M-A then I suggest that they start a new topic - preferably with a well defined opening statement.


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Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 21, 2010 at 12:19 pm

It's certainly possible that the football supporters have the money to erect the lights. Who is going to pay for their operation and maintenance? I would assume the school. Given MA's decision to light up the new performing arts center during non-use hours doesn't lead me to believe the school will be similarly responsible with the FB lights. When I drive by MA at 11 pm on a midweek night, the PAC lights are all on (and no scheduled activity) and the parking lot is empty doesn't speak well of financial responsibility. I recognize security lighting, but most people are at home at that hour.

As for noblesse oblige's comment: I played outdoor HS and college sports and would rather play in daylight than under the lights.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 21, 2010 at 12:41 pm

James asks:"Who is going to pay for their operation and maintenance? I would assume the school."

I think that James' assumption is correct - anyone have an estimate of the cost of having these lights on EVERY Monday though Friday until 8 PM and for 8 football, 8 soccer and 8 lacrosse games on Fridays?

How many teachers' salaries would that pay for?


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 21, 2010 at 6:11 pm

So this is a budgetary issue? (in one of the wealthiest communities in the country...)

Let's do the math -

Costs:
Cost of installation
Cost of operation
Cost of maintenance
Cost of lawsuits

Revenues:
Income from gate receipts
Income from the snack shack
Income from private leagues

Community impact:
Value change for adjacent residents
Value change for the broader school district
Goodwill, ill will, disappointment, and enthusiasm



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Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 21, 2010 at 8:54 pm

To Central Menlo: It seems as if, from your list, that the dollar amount of costs could exceed revenues.

As I have written before, I'm sure playing under lights has certain allure. But discussions should contain some financial accountability; is this the best use of the money for our schools right now?


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2010 at 8:35 am

James, it may be surprising, but the confirmation is that as the items are quantified (e.g. 5x the attendance in night games, or $6,500 in lawsuits) the substantive part of this is that the dollar amount costs could actually exceed revenues, by a wide margin.

If you are suggesting that there are choices in how school funds are ranked and spent, then should we look to the school board, M-A Foundation, PTA, and district offices to make these decisions? Certainly there are other approaches as well, including referenda, initiatives, elected participation, and lawsuits.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 22, 2010 at 8:50 am

This dispute is far less about money than it is about consideration for your neighbors.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm

There's an issue of consideration for neighbors, and for the broader community.

These postings have touched on a few other issues; real estate values, dealing with it, the school's obligations, local & state laws, marijuana, Lindenwood opposition, elections, arrogance, budges & operating costs, school budgets, NIMBYs, coddled football players, race & racism, zoning, school's rights, neighbor's expectations, tax spending, cry-babies, the rule of law, community outreach, interests of the larger community, environmental compliance, courtesy, teens v. old people, selfish Atherton, selfish Youth, Peter's oxe, baseball backstops, Woodside lights, NFL, ordinances, and zoning & regulations. Not sure a single issue describes this one (at least, not for everyone).


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Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2010 at 8:31 am

There was NEVER a plan to install an "adult" sized soccer field at Encinal. The plan was always for a U14 field which happens to be the same size as many adult fields. And U14 is what was installed. The question as whether the field would be grass or turf. The district was planning grass, but then they agreed to consider the City of Menlo Park's interest in building this as a joint use turf field with funding from the City. The City was interested in turf to enable year round use (grass cannot be used when it has rained in the past 24 hours, and grass must be "rested" regularly). The City withdrew it's request based on some resident's negative feelings about turf, so the district never even had a first meeting to evaluate the pros and cons of turf since the district had no use for a turf field at Encinal and was only willing to consider it based on the City's request. Since lights would be funded entirely by the district, the town has no role in this decision, and the decision is entirely the district's.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 23, 2010 at 11:53 am

Encinal didn't go with turf?

I thought the turf wars were settled, and turf won.

Too bad. If it's grass, Encinal is stuck with higher maintenance costs and folks lose by not having greater access to a community asset.

But that doesn't bother the neighbors, does it?


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Posted by Caroline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I am surprised that M-A hasn't put up lights long ago. If it is true that the district offered no input from neighbors, that is a shame. However, given the attitude of many (not all) in the Atherton/Menlo Park neighborhoods, I doubt that anything short of forgetting all together about the lights would have satisfied the neighbors of M-A. I tire of lawsuits for some fights that are so selfish and small minded.
...even Wrigley field eventually installed lights for night games!!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Caroline notes :"...even Wrigley field eventually installed lights for night games!! "

Wrigley Field, first called Weeghman Park, was built in 1914. The lights were added in 1988 - 74 years later.

M-A was built in 1951.


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Posted by tired of this
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 23, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Ok... Peter Carpenter. Can you just post the laws that are being broken. Does the school district have the right to do this or not. There have been other lawsuits that will be used as examples. Perhaps one from Santa Cruz? Does the lawsuit have a chance?

What more could the district done to have appease these neighbors other than rolling over and giving up the idea all together? They HELD meetings. They met with residents. They are putting in TEMPORARY lights rather than just paying for the lights that might go in, so there will be further discussion.

Other than screaming and yelling to say (again) how terrible the SUHSD is, what purpose does this discussion have? It's a pretty simple form of government. If you want something discussed by the board, you ask for it. You attend a meeting or leave them that message. They either do or don't put it on the agenda. This was on the agenda. You go and represent your opinion. Try this with any other form of government we have. You have incredible sway over the board, if you show up. If you don't, they will make decisions.

SO, Peter, what are the facts. Let's put this to rest. The distict DID have discussions. Did they come to meeting with hat in hand ready to deal with a few disgruntled residents? Probably not, because, in the end, they probably do have the right to improve OUR property.

There's no way you spend all this money and then cut back on practice times. Can the residents stop OTHER entities from using the fields at night on weekends? That's an issue. Can they keep the sound level down? Can the lights be designed to minimize light "pollution" ? A lawsuit certainly is a hard way to get a discussion going again on these issues. I would love to know why the PAC lights have to be on so late at with no one around. I know why all the hall lights have to be on and that thanks to......... lawsuits.... Gee thanks Lawyers!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 23, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Tired of this asks:"Can the residents stop OTHER entities from using the fields at night on weekends? That's an issue. Can they keep the sound level down? Can the lights be designed to minimize light "pollution" "

Great questions and ones that will need to be answered. Sadly a law suit seems to some of the neighbors as the only way to get an answer.

The temporary lights come AFTER the Board accepted a report that states that:
The Board will consider the Initial Study and a Negative Declaration in August 2010
Construction plans will be submitted to the DSA (Division of State Architect) after passage of the Negative
Declaration
The Board will evaluate the impact of the temporary lights in March 2011 and set policy for usage
The project will be put out to bid after plans are stamped out of DSA (approximately March 2011)
Permanent lights will be installed for usage beginning in Fall 2011"

That doesn't seem to leave much room for discussions - perhaps that it why the neighbors sued.

And the Board's minutes states:
"FISCAL IMPACT
No impact to the General Fund; all costs to be paid by bond funds."

Since it is clear that bond funds may NOT be used for operating costs, so how will the District operate these lights at no cost to thee General Funds???

I reiterate my personal position is neither for or against the lights - I simply believe that the level of truthful consultation leaves a lot to be desired as is exemplified by the fact that a number of neighbors felt that they had no recourse except to sue the school district. The above facts seem to support their concerns.


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Posted by Mom of 2
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 23, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Just to add another vote, I'm all for the lights with some reasonable accommodations and communication. Publicize the intended use plan (which may have already been done), and make some reasonable accommodations to the neighbors and MOVE ON ALREADY.

My big issue is that fact people are treating this like high treason! Thousands of californians are killed in trafic fatalities every year, hundreds of kids are kidnapped (usually by familily members, but not always), there is a huge amount of poverty right next door, and the football lights are described as a MAJOR ISSUE requiring a lawsuit?? Please reset your priorities! Put this energy to solving real problems.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Mom of 2 states:"the football lights are described as a MAJOR ISSUE requiring a lawsuit?? Please reset your priorities! Put this energy to solving real problems."

If you are a M-A football player, the lights are a priority.

If you are a nearby neighbor, the lights are a priority.

They need to reconcile their priorities.

Mom of 2 can choose to spend her energies elsewhere.


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Posted by REALLY CHIC
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 23, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Football players and neighbors do not need to reconcile their priorities. The issue is that the school district needs to follow the governance that applies to installing lights (board & school district direction, and any laws, regulations or ordinances that apply). Involving neighbors, football players, and the broader community nice, but secondary.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:07 am

Mom of 2 -

You are correct that putting in large towers and lighting them up every night isn't a big deal...

unless you live next door.

When something happens next door to you, you'll probably think it's a big deal too. And you probably won't like it when someone suggests to you to "move on."


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Posted by Maria
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I can't wait until the lights go in. The neighbors bought a home next to a high school. It is not a convent. It will be great for the community.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Maria states:"The neighbors bought a home next to a high school. It is not a convent."

OK, but does that mean that the high school can do whatever it wants?
Motorcycle races, flea markets, rock concerts?

Isn't a 'school' supposed to be about something called EDUCATION?


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Posted by Hal
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 25, 2010 at 10:08 pm

School is more than about education...it's about community spirit, building relationships, giving back, participating, fund raising, athletics, etc., etc. These are all components in a well rounded education. Again, Peter, get a life! With all of your spare time, try shadowing an M-A student for a year to include athletic practices, delivering canned food to the needy, developing relationships in order to see why your petty concerns are a waste of time and effort. If you can't, then move the heck out of Lindenwood.


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Posted by Andre Driscoll
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:04 pm

I've heard of some strange CCRs, but I never realized until tonight, that Lindenwood requires its residents to shadow MA students for a year or otherwise "move the heck out." Thanks for that, Hal.


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Posted by Caroline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2010 at 1:07 am

Peter Carpenter states "OK, but does that mean a high school can do whatever it wants? Motorcycle races, flea markets, rock concerts? Isn't a "school" supposed to be about something called EDUCATION?" Peter would seem to imply that athletics are not and should not be considered educational.

I disagree. The start of a well-rounded education includes reading, music, writing, drama, math, art, science, language, history, AND athletics. To argue otherwise is to show one's own ignorance.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:39 am

Caroline - Ignorance is not being able to read. I stated "OK, but does that mean a high school can do whatever it wants? Motorcycle races, flea markets, rock concerts? Isn't a "school" supposed to be about something called EDUCATION?" I said nothing about athletics. Put words in your own mouth, not mine.

Hal - I don't have a lot of spare time and what I have is spent in community service. And I am quite happy to continue to live in Lindenwood and to work to make it a better community. And how was your year shadowing an M-A student?


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Posted by Caroline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

Peter - If you do not want words put in your mouth then write clearly. You make an implied and disingenuous comparison between putting lights on a high school football field and starting motorcycle races on high school property. M-A is not asking for a motorcycle race track, just lights on the existing football field. You then cap your argument with the non-sequitur about "education": implying that football (along with your ideas of motorcycle racing and rock concerts) are not part of an education. If you do not like my interpretation, then write what you mean.

I'll give you this. I agree that motorcycle racing, flea markets, and rock concerts are not the investments in my kids' educations that I seek from the public schools.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 9:24 am

Caroline - I stated "OK, but does that mean a high school can do whatever it wants? Motorcycle races, flea markets, rock concerts? Isn't a "school" supposed to be about something called EDUCATION?" There is no reference to football or other athletics in my clearly stated words.

The implications and disingenuous comparisons are entirely yours, not mine. I write very clearly and say what I mean to say, period.


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Posted by CENTRAL MENLO
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:05 am

Peter, you often raise excellent points. On this one, you may have written what you meant, but it didn't read that way. I reads as disingenuous. Have to agree with Caroline on this one.

It's not unreasonable that a high school football stadium have lights installed. This isn't motorcycle racing.

The real issue is whether those lights will comply with the laws and ordinances that apply, and whether the school disctrict is following necessary processes in doing this.

Secondary - whether the school district reaches out to neighbors (nice, but maybe not necessary). Many of us live with the choice we made when we bought our homes. Speeding cars on Willow & Santa Cruz, sirens near the firestations, train noise near the tracks, and kids making noise in the parks. There is consideration for neighbors for all of these - and an equal consideration for the broader community. Fortunately, there real estate prices (and other factors) tend to balance these choices.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside High School
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:23 am

letter: laws and ordinances
spirit: conversation and planning with neighbors

the "you bought near a high school" red herring doesn't lock anyone into new scope and scale. On the other hand, the neighbors don't get a veto, except on the letter of the law. Far better when all sides can work toward the spirit AND achieve the letter of the law.

Is there still any conversation taking place between district and neighbors? Peninsula mediation might be a better alternative.

A major local company curb discussions at 100 replies, aka a "centi-thread" on the theory that nearly everything polite and relevant has been said after 100 bounces -- any news or updates would be welcome and might merit a new thread.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:26 am

This is what Maria stated:"The neighbors bought a home next to a high school. It is not a convent."

This is what I responded to Maria:"OK, but does that mean that the high school can do whatever it wants?

Motorcycle races, flea markets, rock concerts?

Isn't a 'school' supposed to be about something called EDUCATION?"

*******************

My response said NOTHING about lights, football or athletics - period.

Caroline and Central Menlo are solely responsible for any inferences they have made beyond exactly what I said. I suspect that they are both having a 'if the shoe fits wear it' response mixed with 'thou doth protest too much'.


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Posted by Caroline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Yes, Peter, you are absolutely correct. You did not use the words "lights" or "football", nor even "football field lights". You did note "motorcycle races", "flea markets" and "rock concerts". I thought the discussion was about football field lights...I guess I must be mistaken about the topic of discussion...


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm

It appears that the judge approved the restraining order to prohibit using lights at the MA football field - it looks like Thursday's football game will be rescheduled


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