As Indalecio continues to describe the event, neighbor Steve Tripp interrupts. “Parking is my issue,” says Tripp, who lives down the street on Monroe. “If you’re having an event with this much seating, any other organization would have to provide adequate parking.”
“Yeah, and just imagine what will happen when the lights go up,” shouts another neighbor.
For them, the event is evidence of the school’s dirty tactics.
“Sure, they put together this nice letter, making these promises, anything to get the neighbors to quiet down, which they have,” adds Indalecio. “They’ve tried everything they could to not talk about the lights, but when this event happened, it all came back up.”
In an August 20 interview in his office, Principal Podhorsky apologizes for the event. “Trust me, I’m working very hard at balancing the needs of our kids with the needs of our community. I want to be a good neighbor.”
Sitting next to Podhorsky is San Diego Unified spokesperson Cynthia Reed-Porter. Podhorsky chooses his words carefully, stopping a number of times before continuing. “It was just an oversight. It was a summer activity. But we’re working on addressing that break in communication.” He plans to improve communication by distributing a schedule of sporting events to the community and posting each event on both the school’s and the Kensington/Talmadge planning committee’s websites at least one week ahead of time.
As for security during school events, Podhorsky is surprised to hear about tailgate parties and alcohol consumption during the July soccer match and is quick to say that he had 34 people working security that day. “It’s something we’re going to have to look at,” he says. “Traditionally, a high school wouldn’t patrol out into the community, but we want to provide adequate support.”
Asked to comment on the assurances laid out in Superintendent Grier’s letter, Reed-Porter says, “I can’t speak for Dr. Grier, and I’m not sure what that letter intended to be. It was a letter from Dr. Grier to Todd Gloria, one person sending information to another person. I don’t see that it was intended for the entire community.”
However, in a later email, Reed-Porter writes, “I have confirmed that the ‘15 night games’ is the assumption used in the Mitigated Negative Declaration [environmental report]…consistent with the letter from Dr. Grier to Todd Gloria. Also I confirmed with Principal Podhorsky that the school will limit the number of night games to 15.”
As the community awaits the October release of the environmental report, which must be accepted before the lights can be installed, and as Podhorsky attempts to mend his relationship with the community, so far the only real losers have been the Balboa Raiders.
Back on Crawford High School’s football field, on the hot late-August morning, Coach Trisby feels as though the Raiders were the scapegoat. “Look around you,” he says, sounding as though he’s trying to convince a referee of an errant call. “These are just kids. There isn’t a bunch of people drinking — they are cheering on their kids.
“Bottom line: the school wanted lights, and a group of neighbors got together and amplified the problem. We were never the real problem. They used us as a pawn to get the lights. All for a couple of night games a year.”