MVLA hears continued stadium lights objections

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees may be on the cusp of approving the installation of stadium lights, but some neighbors still have objections.

A group of neighbors attended the May 20 board meeting to continue airing concerns with the stadium lights policies the district is considering.

Three people spoke, telling trustees that despite changes to the policies, the installation of stadium lights at Mountain View and Los Altos high schools will still have a negative impact on those who live nearby.

Heather Lattanzi told the trustees that she doesn’t think they understand how lights would affect her neighborhood.

“It’s not like there will not be an impact,” she said. “It’s at the point now where it might be livable. It’s not going to be as bad as it could be, but there’s still a significant impact.”

The board is considering erecting stadium lights at both high schools, but nearby residents have raised objections about noise, traffic, parking and other environmental issues.

Public address systems

Along with the lights, the district plans to install new public address systems, aimed at better containing sound.

At last week’s meeting, the neighbors said they worried about the effect the public address systems would have, especially when used on holidays.

Under the draft policies, using the stadium lights would not be permitted on any school holidays. However, the public address systems could be used on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day, if the superintendent signs off.

Use would be prohibited on other holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s Day. However, the Mountain View High Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving would be grandfathered in and could begin using the PA system at 8 a.m.

That was a problem for some of the neighbors, who said that 8 a.m. was too early on a holiday and would be disruptive.

Trustees discussed the possibility of moving the Turkey Trot start time later, potentially to 9 a.m. Trustee Debbie Torok said she would look into whether a later start was possible.

Superintendent Jeff Harding noted that the Turkey Trot is currently the only holiday use of the PA system, despite no current restrictions on the system’s operation.

“In the history of the district, now more than 100 years, there have been no restrictions on the use of the stadium on holidays, even with our clumsy, very loud PA,” Harding said.

However, he said he wanted to leave the option open to use the new system on certain holidays in the future in case either school wants to host a new event that hasn’t yet been conceived.

Trustee Catherine Vonnegut said it seemed the problems neighbors raised aren’t so much with the lights themselves, but rather with the potential increased use of the sound system that may result.

“Over the years, the neighbors have gotten more and more and more frustrated with the sound systems the way they have been,” Vonnegut said. “So we’re combating increased frustration that’s built up over years.”

Although Vonnegut said the new sound system would be much better at containing the noise, she said it’s an “uphill battle” to address the existing concerns of the neighbors.

Trustees plan to take a final vote on the use policies at their June 10 meeting, according to Phil Faillace, board president. Minor changes may be made in the next few weeks, but Faillace said he doesn’t expect major updates.

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