Many aspects of the proposed lighting project at Marin Catholic would contribute to the deterioration of our neighborhood. The proposed 514 lighted events per year would directly contribute to increased traffic, noise and light pollution, and potential neighborhood safety concerns. In addition, they would attract outside groups into a neighborhood and school site that do not have the infrastructure to accommodate them.
It has been suggested that approximately 85% of the students at Marin Catholic DO NOT live in this neighborhood. In other words, MC will benefit from the proposed lights, while the neighbors will suffer the consequences. This is a fundamentally unbalanced equation: a private benefit, and a public cost. A recent picture of the MC field itself can help summarize MC’s feelings about its neighbors.
The Marin Catholic parking lot is nowhere near large enough to accommodate the cars for a nighttime game. MC plans to have spectators park in neighboring lots, such as the St. Sebastian church lot to the south and the Bacich Elementary School lot to the north. It is highly unlikely that even these two parking lots combined would provide sufficient parking space for a Friday night football game, meaning that spectators would inevitably spill into neighboring areas to seek street parking. Streets in Greenbrae are already narrow and crowded with parked cars at night, and these new visitors would only exacerbate this already serious problem.
Traffic along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Ross Valley is at such a logjam, the County is spending $13 million to study and alleviate the traffic problem between US 101 and the Town of Ross. Even after this project, the traffic flow will rate a grade of C, according to the County. MC is in the middle of this heavily impacted stretch. The stadium lights would generate even more traffic right at rush hour, obviously a negative development and counter to the effort to improve the corridor.
SAFETY & CRIME
The school stadium currently transitions abruptly into dark neighborhood yards that provide a tempting location for unsafe, questionable, and criminal behavior. The cost to install security fencing & additional security lighting in the affected areas of the neighborhood would be more than $4 million and would permanently change the historic appearance and peaceful nighttime nature of the neighborhood, creating unacceptable nighttime light pollution and eliminating the open, welcoming feel of the neighborhood.
Neighbors of MC already experience practice and game noise during the daytime all week. Lights would cause unlimited night-time usage of the stadium. The disruption to peaceful evenings is unwarranted and simply unfair, and the residents shouldn’t be asked to tolerate the transformation of the area. The crowd noise emanating from nighttime games is not limited to cheers and boos of course, but includes noise from stomping feet on aluminum bleachers, air horns, and crackling announcements from the PA system.
Though special technology can help limit light spill, it cannot eliminate glare and skyglow. skyglow is of significant concern; glare is an issue for a wide range of residents due to the topography of the area. Using new lighting technology or not, the four 80-foot tall light tower structures would be unsightly and would illuminate a large swath of Ross Valley. Views toward and from Mt. Tam would be degraded or eliminated many nights a year, a condition consistent with an urban setting but inappropriate for Marin County.
Once lights are installed on the MC field, there is a distinct possibility that the school could rent out the field to generate revenue. Other groups using the field at night would be even less inclined to respect the neighborhood, and would treat the location as a rented stadium that they had paid for. This kind of use for such a facility is wholly inappropriate for the residential neighborhood in which MC exists.
Moving to nighttime and expanded use of the MC stadium would permanently change the quality and rhythm of life in the surrounding neighborhood, and it would change it for the worse. Let us not forget that MC is a private high school, not a public one ostensibly acting under the approval of the local school district.
The residents of Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, and surrounding areas stand together on this issue!
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