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The lights at the end of the stadium tunnel are beginning to grow dim in San Diego Unified School District's legal fight over the $800,000 in Proposition S school-bond revenues that it spent on stadium lighting at Hoover High School.

On March 26 of this year, and appellant court struck down an earlier ruling from Judge Timothy Taylor and instead sided with a group of residents who challenged the use of Prop S bond money to pay for stadium lights.

In their decision, the panel ruled that the district's attempt to attach the lighting project to a larger renovation project was illegal and the district should give back the $800,000. Prop S, they ruled, was meant to improve accessibility and bring buildings up to code, not for brand new stadium lights.

The issue goes back to 2006 when officials from San Diego Unified announced plans to build new classroom buildings, a new wood-shop, as well as renovate the school's athletic field all using revenues from Proposition S. In two years time, the plan to install bleachers, restrooms, a brand new press box, new entrances to the fields, and 90-foot light towers so they can host nighttime football games turned into a clash between neighbors and the school district.

But nearby residents objected to the stadium upgrades. They worried that the new lights would bring traffic, noise, and crime into their neighborhood. For more than two years discussions were deadlocked.

In 2011, the non-profit Taxpayers for Accountable School Bond Spending challenged the use of Proposition S funds for stadium lighting in court.

Shortly after, Judge Taylor judged in favor of the school district.

But the group of Talmadge residents wasn't ready to concede in their fight to turn down the lights. They filed an appeal. On March 26, an appellant court overturned the earlier judgement and in favor of the residents.

Lawyers for the district filed a petition for the judge to rehear the case, using new definitions of Prop-S.

Six days later, on April 25, a judge agreed with the residents, denying the school district's motion for a rehearing.

At the same time, the judge ordered that the decision from the appellant court be certified for publication.

Read the links below for additional background on the issue:





Click on this link to read the decision and other legal documents from the case:


Update: An earlier version of this story reported that Judge Timothy Taylor ruled in favor of the residents, not the appellant court. That error has since been corrected.

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