Anyone who thinks there’s a snowy plover’s chance in hell that the California Coastal Commission will support the cleanup of the Balloon Track property and ultimately allow a 313,500 square foot mixed-use development across the street from Humboldt Bay–we do love an optimist. Really. Dream big.
But before you go out and start spending all that money you would save on competitively priced building supplies, consider the recent Coastal Commission decision involving Malibu High School, which didn’t ask to build or sell anything and wanted only to continue using six temporary lights so the kids could play football at night.
School officials stipulated that they would use only lights equipped with visors that direct the light downward and minimize impact on the surrounding area. Additionally, they would use the lights no more than 16 nights a year–up to eight practices and eight games during the course of the football season.
The staff report supported the request, noting that the football field was more than 2,000 feet from the nearest coastal resource. There was no environmentally sensitive habitat area, or ESHA, in or around the impact area, and the impact itself was deemed “less than significant.” The magnitude of the light did not exceed the effect of deep twilight past 150 feet from the football field and would produce no light effect off campus.
Staff considered the possibility that birds, none of which are endangered, might sometimes roost in a small stand of eucalyptus and black walnut trees to the east of the campus. However, they concluded, the light from the football field didn’t reach the trees.
Staff, including at least one scientist with a Ph.D., also investigated whether the lights might possibly confuse migrating birds, but determined that the elevation of the school and the height of the light effect was far below the altitude generally occupied by migratory birds.
In another section of the report, staff found the temporary lights compatible with the the scenic resources of the surrounding area, which included already a number of lights, including security lights, parking lot lights and numerous additional fixtures.
In sum, staff found no impact on ESHA or any bird or animal species, no impact on the “scenic resources,” as they’re called, and no inconsistency of use or appearance with the surrounding area.
One last hitch was the city’s Local Coastal Plan, or LCP, which included language preventing use of lights for private sports facilities, such as all those tennis courts rich folk in Malibu like to put in their backyards. But counsel confirmed that this clause did not apply to the public sporting facilities of schools.
What’s not to love, yes?
It was hard to tell, really, but that didn’t seem to stop the enviros from not loving it.
“Of all the irritating, outrageous and unacceptable project proposals that end up before you,” a Sierra Club rep began, “this one should really make you angry.”
And so it went. Speaker after speaker told the commission how the continued use of six lights 16 nights a year that experts said didn’t effect anything would, in fact, hasten the end of the world. The ocean would die. The polar bears would drown. Future generations would hear about California’s beautiful coast only in stories they would not dare to believe.
It the end, Honorable Chair Bonnie Neely asked whether it was even necessary to take a roll call vote.
It wasn’t. All ten commissioners, her honor included, voted no.Note: If you have some free time and wish to spend it immersed in stupidity, watch the discussion for yourself here. Scroll down to item 12a and click on the film reel next to the permit number. The footage starts with the staff report.
Filed under: Humboldt County | Tagged: Balloon Track, Bon Bon--out go the lights, Bonnie Neely, California Coastal Commission, deep twilight in their brains, Friday night lights out, hyperbole and political rhetoric, Malibu High School, Marina Center, Sierra Club, snowy plover's chance in hell |