Atherton Council position on School Lights, Statement at Council Meeting on 9/20/10
Original post made by Walter Sleeth, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Sep 21, 2010
Re: Atherton Town Council Decision to waive any right to challenge Sequoia Union High School District's Decision to ignore Atherton Zoning Procedures
I am Walter Sleeth; I live at 227 Catalpa Dr. I have been a resident of Atherton for 20 years. I came this morning because I am concerned and disagree with the Council's decision not to oppose the Sequoia Union District's decision recently made to ignore Atherton's Zoning rules in order to proceed with the lighting of athletic fields and conducting other related amenities at a number of night athletic games at the Menlo Atherton High School on Middlefield Road in the Town of Atherton.
I have no opinion on whether the lights and other amenities are worthwhile or ill advised. My concern is the failure of the council to disclose openly why it has taken this position. The town's citizens need to understand more clearly and openly the reasons the Council has waived the Town's and its citizens' rights. My understanding is that only the Town has legal standing to seek to reverse the School District's ignoring of the Town's Regulations.
While I recognize the Council may have, at least in part, been reacting to recent criticism to certain litigation matters, which negatively impacted the Town's budget, the citizens elect the members to the council to use their judgment when deciding whether to defend or seek legal redress on issues, which come before it. This decision is one, which effects the powers of the Town to enforce its zoning against all residents and should not be lightly taken or used to demonstrate the Council is hesitant to use legal means to enforce the Town's prerogatives. From this citizen's viewpoint the Council erred in waiving the Town's and by extension, its citizens' rights to challenge the School District's failure to comply with the regulations of the jurisdiction its properties are resident.
I request that the Council reconsider its waiver of rights and challenge the School District. I have been informed that there is a 30-day statute of limitations from the date of the District's decision, thus the Council should move promptly to reconsider. The success by the Town in stopping the District's unilateral decision would still leave open the District's being able to seek an exemption to the Zoning; it may have very good reasons to prevail, i.e. building school spirit, keeping students off the streets and that the burden to neighbors in the area is minimal.
Thank you for hearing me this morning.