ENCINITAS — Residents who are already impacted from the lights at Cardiff Sports Park and San Dieguito Academy, were informed at a neighborhood meeting June 24 that the city plans to install 34 light poles and 158 fixtures at the Hall property community park.
The proposed lights have already received an OK from council to stand up to 90 feet in height, and exceed the area’s 30-foot building height limit.
Residents who neighbor the 44-acre park located at 425 Santa Fe Drive, which is still under construction, object to the potential light spill and excess height of the planned lights that will sit uphill from more than 100 homes and affect the Poinsettia Heights neighborhood.
Jim Morris is a resident of Poinsettia Heights and has kept informed of Hall property park plans for 10 years. He said field lights should not be added to the plans. “It doesn’t need to have night sports,” Morris said. “It’s too much.”
Mayor Dan Dalager disagrees. He has been working on City Council for eight years to move Hall property park plans forward through a failed lawsuit that objected to the park being built and continues to support park plans through community objections to field lights.
“Encinitas is filled with a lot of good decent people who are scared by a small group who spread misinformation,” Dalager said. “From day one we talked about the lights — eight years ago — it’s not something new.”
Dalager said there is a community need for more sports fields. “There are three youth baseball leagues, two youth softball leagues, Pop Warner football, Cardiff Soccer, Encinitas Soccer, Leucadia soccer, kid’s rugby, kid’s volleyball, not to mention any adult leagues,” Dalager said. “It could have been a Costco. We were able to save 44 acres. We need a place in this town for our kids to play.”
The meeting presented an overview of the light plan and allowed residents to ask questions.
“As an elected official I was there to listen and hear the public comments and questions firsthand,” Councilwoman Teresa Barth said. “There absolutely were a lot of questions and concerns.”
Most of the residents at the meeting objected to field lights being added to the park. “They’re too tall and too intrusive,” Jerry Sodomk, a Poinsettia Heights resident, said.
Phase I construction of the park includes installing the infrastructure, parking, trails, a dog park and five athletic fields.
Phase II construction includes the installation of 22 poles and 144 fixtures to illuminate the fields. Lights will later be installed to light up the planned skate park and aquatic center. The hours that the lights will be on has not been determined.
Musco Lighting presented the lighting design plan at the meeting as a courtesy service to the city.
Mike Marchetti, project manager of Musco Lighting, said the Light-Structure Green lights that may be used give off a focused light with less spill then average field lights, so 40 percent fewer fixtures are needed, which reduces electrical costs. The taller lights allow greater control of where the beams hit.
“If we use 30-foot lights it will blind everyone for miles around,” Dalager said. “Taller lights go straight down.”
The field lights will directly neighbor Vons shopping center and Interstate 5. “If you can’t have lights by the shopping center and freeway, where can you have them?” Dalager asked.
The proposed park lights need to be approved by the Planning Commission, City Council and the Costal Commission before the city can move forward and ask for bids on the project.
The estimated cost of park lighting is $500,000 to $700,000. The item is expected to be brought to council by the end of summer.