St. Mary's College Lighted Sports Field --Noise and Light Trespass

 On 2/2713 the Town Council denied the appeal 3 to 2.

 http://www.news24-680.com/lamorinda-news/government/lights-out-for-st-mary-s

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=pdRH5wzCQQw

 We hope that SMC will drop the threat of a lawsuit and accept the invitation to find a concrete solution, fix the problem and come back to the Planning Commsission for reconsideration.

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 St. Mary's College is appealing the Town's decision to limit use of the lighted sports field to 9PM. The limit is a condition of the use permit, the Town invoked because of complaints by  residents of the Bluffs and Rheem Valley Manor areas.  Groups from these neigbhorhoods are asking the Town to reject the appeal because the College has not mitigated the sound and light trespass.

On other pages at this site you can see photos of the sport field lights taken from several locations ranging from Rheem Bl. to Del Rio Ct. These images were taken with a digital camera and wide angle lens. There are also photos of the sports field under the lights and a photo to show the excessive light level near the field. Other images are from as much as 5000 feet from the field. Some images were zoomed. The images are not enhanced or post processed. There are some artifacts from reducing the file size.

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The College, which opposed any limits on lighted sports field operations, claims to have taken steps to mitigate the problem of lights (but not noise) and wants the limitation lifted. SMC hired a professional engineering firm to analyze the lighting and recommend changes. Based on the report SMC painted (with cans of spray paint) some of the hoods that bounced rather than blocked light and corrected the aim of some lamps that were not installed according to the original design. Then while issuing press statements about its desire to resolve the issue, SMC told residents that it would not consider any measure that reduced light levels or restricted hours of use. And that is where it stands.

Forty-eight 1500-Watt lamps on four 70-foot poles illuminate the field. These lights are higher than most campus buildings and trees and the spill or waste light is bright enough to create shadows at 3000 feet. The lights are high enough to shine directly into several homes.The College represented the lights to the Town as non-glaring with almost negligible amounts of light spill. The design calls for just .019 foot-candles at 150' from the field. The reality is that the lights are very bright even from a home almost 5000 feet from the field.

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We want the Town to bring the College to the table to find a compromise on night operation of the lights and the resulting noise. We don't know if that means shorter hours, lower light levels or a combination of measures. The family that looks directly out of their dining room at twelve 1,500 W lights just wants relief.

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These lights escaped a full review because a former Town official ruled that they were exempt as if they were the same as a temporary hot dog stand or a portable toilet.

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There are several recommended lighting standards for sports fields like this one at SMC. The College has 50 foot-candles at the field. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America says 20 foot- candles are enough for safe and enjoyable play. There must be a workable compomise of some kind.

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