Turn out the lights, night events are over at Hoover High School

Hoover High School

4474 El Cajon Boulevard, Talmadge

On September 20 Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor ordered the newly erected stadium lights at Hoover High School turned off tonight at midnight until San Diego Unified School District can conduct a full Environmental Impact Report.

Taylor's ruling comes in what became a protracted court battle, one that traveled from Superior Court to the Court of Appeals only to return to Taylor's courtroom.

"I just don't see how we can leave the lights on," Taylor said during the Friday afternoon court hearing. "I feel bad for the kids, especially the seniors whose homecoming and other functions will be affected but it is not appropriate to use the lights until the impacts are fully examined."

And while it was assuredly a defeat for the district, the extent of defeat is not yet known. Turning off the lights was one of two issues in the case. The other was the use of Prop S bond revenues to pay for stadium lighting. On that issue, Taylor refused to order the district to reimburse the approximately $462,000 it cost to purchase, and install the lights. Before any restitution is ordered, if it is ordered, the Superior Court Judge wants to see the accounting.

He gave the district 30 days to turn the complete cost for the lights over to the Plaintiffs, Taxpayers for Accountable School Bond Spending, and to the court.

An attorney for the school district told Taylor that delivering a line-by-line expense report will be difficult, especially so considering the lights were a part of a bigger project to renovate Hoover High's aged athletic field.

"Here's the problem," responded Taylor, "you lost."

Meanwhile, as accountants and project managers tally the costs, the district continues to move forward on bringing similar light towers to other high school such as Crawford and Point Loma.

In those case, unlike the situation at Hoover, the school district is following CEQA and conducting a thorough Environmental Impact Report.

Comments

Judge Timothy Taylor is becoming something of a Local Hero for his decision saving Plaza de Panama and the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park from a drastic "remodel" and now honoring the need for CEQA when you slap up a bunch of powerful stadium lights at a high school in a residential zone.

I hope he holds San Diego Unified to the requirement for producing costs of said lights. If the schools have a problem, they can pull some figures from a hat -- a standard operating procedure lately when it comes to using school bond money.

As I write this, I am sitting in my house that is one block from Hoover High. I can hear the screams of the fans as their team scores, the music of the band and the basic sounds of happy high schoolers and their families. The stadium lights are not beaming into my living room, there is no one trashing my front yard or blocking my driveway. I'm trying hard to figure out what the big deal is about the stadium lights. Did the school board go about this the right way? No, probably not, but come next Friday night home game, who will be at home bummed that they are missing out on one of high schools rites of passage? The school board members? No, it will be the kids who most likely live in one of the poorer neighborhoods surrounding the school, who could probably use a little light in their Friday night.

If you don't know the full 'back story' I can understand your feelings. Besides the fact the lights were put in without the proper notice or fundings, there were many people involved in the discussion of the lights, and more important, use of the field once the lights were installed. The school district was blatant in their intent to use the fields not just for home football games, but for renting revenue to public venues. The district refused to limit the field use in any manner, leaving our neighborhood open to the possibility of public events any/every night of the year. I don't think you would be happy sitting in your house one block from Hoover listening to concerts or semi-professional soccer or other other events late into the night. So much wrong with how this has all 'come down' but it was not for lack of trying to reach an acceptable solution. The students can look to the San Diego School District for the facts - if the SDSD can humble themselves to tell the truth.

What you're listening to is the sound of poor kids being robbed of their educations. Poor black and Hispanic kids need a lot of things, but wasting 20 or 30 hours per week on sports is not one of them.

My concern is that the school district has their priorities mixed up. They are spending $462,000 for lights, and the teachers don't have enough copy paper and supplies for the most important part of the school, teaching! Our business and several others were approached last year to help support the school, because the teachers had a "paper shortage". This was for Point Loma High School. I would not mind a few lights and a single evening football game on a Friday night, but that isn't the major problem with this. What they are proposing is spending countless dollars on sporting events and commercial use of our neighborhood schools. They should be focusing on improving education. Repairing restrooms on campus, enhancing the school library, upgrading science labs, including music, art, and PE into each child's education. These funds need to be more appropriately spent.

Friday night football is so very important to our students and all varsity football players who dream of playing under the lights...its disgusting and ridiculous for the courts to take away the lights and especially after they were installed and excited the athletes. Sports keep our kids moving forward in the right direction and out of trouble, most of the time...It is a shame that adults can be so selfish that they will sue to keep our kids from reaching their dream.

There seem to be so many repairs and so many academically oriented improvements that need to be made. No one wants to stop the varsity football players from having a good time, but how many varsity football players are there at Hoover? 70? Something seems a little off about the school and the community suffering so that a minuscule percentage of the student population can have a slightly better game experience a few times a year. Maybe I am uninformed though -- is the football team unable to play except at night? Because it sounds like the only positive of having games at night is that its a better party. I like a good party (and admittedly I don't live in the neighborhood so I can't really speak to the impact of the night events) but I am really having trouble seeing how night games would tangibly improve those students' futures. Young adults dream about a lot of things... with money so tight at the school district we should prioritize spending money on projects that help students reach dreams that relate to their future, not the dreams that relate to a fun but fleeting high school experience that won't help them with college or jobs.

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