Press Release

Press Release: Court Rules SI’s Stadium Lights Need CEQA Study

From the SI Neighborhood Association:

Neighbors Prevail with CEQA Ruling

The neighbors living in the vicinity of Saint Ignatius College Preparatory have won their years-long battle to have SI’s new field stadium lights properly analyzed for their permanent environmental impacts on the neighborhood.  

The California State Appellate Court (First District/Division Four) has agreed with the neighborhood association that the SF planning department was in error in their determination that the 90-foot-tall, professional-level stadium lights were exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  

This Appellate Court ruling reverses the previous SF Superior Court judgment against the neighbor’s claims.

The city (and SI) claimed that because the lights were installed on the existing JP Murphy field, they would not expand or increase usage of the field.  However, the Appellate Court agreed with the neighbor’s evidence that, without the lights, the field is quiet and dark most evenings during the fall and winter months.  And now, with the lights, the field is lit and in use 80 percent of the fall and winter — or 150 nights a year — which could have lasting impacts on the neighborhood and environment; including light and glare, noise, and public safety.  These impacts must now be analyzed under CEQA regulations and, as a result, mitigation measures may be implemented to reduce the impacts.  

The Appellate Court also ruled that because these four light poles (at 90-feet-tall) are significantly taller than any other structures in the surrounding neighborhood they therefore cannot be further exempted, as claimed by the city (and SI), as small structure(s) with no impacts.

As to this precedent-setting ruling in favor of proper CEQA studies for this case, Deborah Brown, Secretary of the neighborhood association stated: 

“We are extremely gratified that the appellate court recognized our valid position articulated by our counsel, Michael W. Graf, at the recent hearing – specifically …”   

‘Finally, counsel’s observation at oral argument is worth noting. The purpose here for enforcing the environmental analysis required by CEQA is not necessarily to kill the project but to require careful consideration of measures that will mitigate the environmental impacts of the project… the neighborhood citizens are entitled to have the sufficiency of these conditions scrutinized in accordance with CEQA standards and, if deemed necessary, enforceable limitations imposed.’ 

 “A complete CEQA review is the outcome we had hoped for.”

Saint Ignatius College Preparatory and SF Planning will now be required to implement an environmental review on the impacts of these stadium lights and the attendant noise, aesthetics, and public safety aspects under CEQA regulations.

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