Pepperdine University officials withdrew an application for stadium field lights at an intramural athletic field on its Malibu campus last week after it became clear the California Coastal Commission would deny the coastal development permit.
The university had proposed to add six 80-foot stadium light fixtures to replace four existing 28-foot fixtures at what is known as the Marie Canyon Field.
But a divided Coastal Commission appeared ready to vote against the proposal after several hours of testimony Wednesday during its regular meeting in San Diego.
CCC staff recommended against the proposal, stating that the fixtures would cause light pollution and harm animals and plants in a nearby environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA).
“I’m seeing such a disconnect between our young people understanding the importance of protecting and preserving our finite resources,” said Penny Alia, a Malibu resident who spoke out against the project.
University officials, prior to the meeting, said the lights would cause less harm to the environment than the current 28-foot lights by shielding lights downward. The lights, they argued, are crucial to providing future recreational opportunities to students through the university’s campus expansion project the Campus Life Project.
“These students deserve recreational opportunities,” said Rhiannon Bailard, Director of the Pepperdine Center for Sustainability. “Unfortunately, for many of our students the only time they have available is at night.”
Pepperdine offered on Wednesday to turn the lights off every night at 10:30 p.m., with discretion to continue until 12 a.m. on 24 nights per year, according to the PLF.
Several Pepperdine students also spoke in favor of the lights, arguing they were needed for recreational opportunities.
Student body president Demisse Selassie said that the intramural sports field is a way for college students to combat loneliness.
“Around 54% of all college students report feeling lonely or isolated,” Selassie said. “The lights at the recreation field can be a big part in providing a space for fellowship and unity.”
But the commission appeared headed to vote against it.
“You could build a covered sports field, as they do in the East,” said Commissioner Dayna Bochco.
Pepperdine withdrew the application before the Commission could vote.