A battle of yard signs wages in the neighborhood surrounding Point Loma High School, and it has little to do with the upcoming special election for mayor.
These yard signs debate the results of ballot initiatives of years past. Specifically, Props S (2008) and Z (2012), each of which passed as bond measures funding long-term upgrades to schools in the San Diego Unified School District. Presently, this means significant expansions to the Point Loma High School Stadium, home of the Pointers.
The Pointers' field is slated to receive a new press box, PA system, additional seating, and 90-foot light towers. It's the lights that have many school-adjacent residents riled up enough to plant posterboard on their lawns. They fear nighttime events would upset the neighborhood's "old school and suburban" feel, diminishing quality of life and property values.
Stoking these concerns is a group called "Pro Point Loma." PPL's chief issues are that the introduction of night games will create light pollution, air pollution, parking congestion, and traffic hazards that will unduly burden their small corner of the peninsula. To garner support, the organization has launched a website, set up a Twitter feed, and reportedly hired a PR firm to promote their position.
For the past several weeks, dozens of Pro Point Loma's blue "Save Our Neighborhood" signs have appeared on neighborhood lawns, promoting the group's website and rallying support.
These are not to be confused with the maroon-colored "Support our Neighborhood" signs meted out by another group calling itself "Progress for PLHS." These yard signs sport the school colors, indicating at least a few households are, as one resident says, "fans of Friday Night Lights," who wish to see all scheduled campus upgrades proceed.
Point Loma resident and Progress for PLHS representative Elaine Burrell claims the organization has distributed 100 signs within the past two weeks — without professional PR assistance — and fielded orders for more. The group has also given out a "factual flier" intended to counter some of Pro Point Loma's claims.
For example, the home page of the PPL website suggests the school district will hire out the venue for private events, likening the impact to their neighborhood to that of the Gaslamp during a concert at Petco Park. Meanwhile, the PPLHS flier states, "There is no evidence or record of a plan to hold rock concerts at the PLHS field."
So, who should Pointers believe? The school board claims any night events will be restricted to high school athletics, limited to 19 per year. As to how heavily these events will weigh on the community, it remains to be seen, as a thorough environmental impact report won't be ready until mid-November.
Which brings up an important point: little has technically been decided yet. While the red sign vs. blue sign debate rages on, the stadium expansion's planning process is just getting started. Supporters from each side have been invited to take part in a scheduled series of community planning events involving school-board members, PLHS officials, and the architects designing the particulars of the expansion. If nothing else, the yard signs have done a great job promoting these events.
According to San Diego Unified trustee Scott Barnett, around 200 residents attended such a meeting held on September 18. He says he personally met with many of the concerned residents to assure them the school board will make efforts to reduce any inconvenience, including directional technologies to reduce light and noise pollution caused by the stadium's new equipment. He says the chief reason for lighting the field is to give students a few more hours of practice time during limited after-school hours, especially when Daylight Savings time ends in early November.
In the meantime, while the neighborhood remains free of light pollution, yard pollution appears to be a growing problem. Other signs spotted in the neighborhood included those promoting various security companies, house painters, and real estate agents, positioned on lawns alongside Chargers logos and Halloween decorations. While this fight for neighborhood values may ultimately force concessions from both sides, red and blue, Point Loma residents can apparently agree on one thing: other political yard signs show them to be overwhelmingly in favor their own district's councilman for mayor.
Nobody from Pro Point Loma responded to requests for comment.