Editorial: Lighten Up!

JP Nash

Was it so surprising for our residential neighbors to wake up one morning and find themselves living next to a high school? M-A was founded in 1951, but perhaps we should have known that fifty-nine years is too short of notice to spring something like football games on the locals.

Yes, the Sequoia Union High School District brought in temporary lights in an attempt to sidestep the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that prevents or at least delays the installation of permanent ones. Yes, the town of Atherton has the right to bring this to a judge’s attention. And yes, the judge’s decision was perfectly reasonable. However, the very nature of the report itself is superfluous, because it can only show what we already know: students will be at school.

According to Protect Atherton’s Residential Character (PARC), the report is needed to evaluate the “potential harm to the neighbors of increased traffic, increased noise, increased influx of gangs or other non-residents, increased crime, and infiltration of bright lights, all during the evening, night, and weekend hours when no such harms presently exist.”

So let’s examine their concerns.

Traffic. Is the traffic for football games really going to be worse than traffic for the basketball games we hold at the exact same time? Or for the classes we attend every day? There will be traffic. But there is no reason to believe that Atherton can’t handle three evenings a year for which traffic is no more than on any school morning or afternoon.

As for the noise and “infiltrating” light, we hardly think that a football game that takes place before the noise curfew will cause more disruption than night games at Woodside, Sequoia, or thousands of other high schools in normal parts of the nation.

As for the gang members and “non-residents,” could these “non-residents” be the East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto students that pass to and from the Atherton neighborhood to get an education every single day? The same “gangs” who, though they attend Menlo-Atherton High School, do not have a 94027 zip code to their name?

Surely the only thing keeping them from pillaging your homes was the poor lighting.

PARC’s lawyer Anna Shimko claims that Menlo-Atherton “[has] not justified the need for the late use of the lights at all.”

However, Shimko seems unable to comprehend that winter sports are played in winter. Night falls at about five pm. Coaches have repeatedly explained in innumerable public settings that our new, later start time pushes games and practices into the later hours of the evening. PARC has heard these reasons before, and ignores them. In doing so, they deny the importance of having sports at all.

Instead of creating deliberate delays in an inevitable process, our neighbors should let the temporary lights stand. What better way to evaluate environmental impact than to see their effects firsthand?

Apparently there is no room in Atherton’s “residential character” for a high school football game. If given the chance, based on their intolerance for normal school functions, PARC would injunct Menlo-Atherton itself.

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8 Responses to “Editorial: Lighten Up!”

  1. Rachel on October 7th, 2010 9:54 pm

    Well said. If you bought a house next to or near a high school what the heck did you expect?

  2. Bianca on October 8th, 2010 2:22 pm

    I just wished that they would allow us for just one night to play our homecoming game on OUR OWN FIELD! Very well said, btw.

  3. M-A Student on October 8th, 2010 4:12 pm

    The author accomplishes nothing in writing this article. He or she is clearly and entirely biased; in fact, the article is so caustic and sarcastic that it seems it was written for no reason aside from criticism of the residents of Atherton. Popular support at M-A is already in favor of the lights’ use, so what is the use of publishing this article? It serves no legitimate purpose but to criticize and deride – something that should not be supported by the M-A Journalism department. It is dissapointing, and, quite frankly, embarrassing to see such a poor example of (biased) writing. If you’re going to write an editorial, you have every right to state your opinions, but not so much to the point that the writing becomes bitter, rude, and angry.

    Person Reply:

    What did you accomplish in writing that comment?

    rmullen Reply:

    I agree with “Person.” This is an editorial on the lights, not an article on what an editorial should or should not include. However, we would love to hear your opinion on the issue at hand!

    Hannah Rosnefeld Reply:

    Noticeably, we didn’t point out that implying that “non-residents” is synonymous with “gang members” is blatant racism on the behalf of the neighbors. We didn’t quote Mr. Lippi, who told us that no heightened gang activity has, in fact, been recorded at football games. We didn’t even question why a handful of wealthy residents feel that they should come before 2000 eager student and their families. All of those things would have been biased so we left them out and approach the issue with an argument grounded in specific rebuttals instead.

    Maybe you would prefer this, it is what we call an article: http://www.mabearnews.com/news/2010/09/01/m-a-fights-on-for-lights/
    Check back later for another one on this issue.

    k8reardon Reply:

    What a catch, M-A Student! You’ve spotted the bias! The thing about “biased writing” is that it actually has a name: opinion/editorials. So indeed, you’re quite right. The intent was to criticize. The point was to amuse and make clear a certain opinion. From my humble perspective, there is nothing embarrassing or disappointing about that– seeing as it is an opinion based article with no claim of objectivity.

  4. Khaila on October 8th, 2010 6:24 pm

    I live in East Menlo Park and I go to MA. I know for a fact that the bad influences like drugs, traffic, and violence that my city and East Palo Alto aren’t going to be at the games. Most games don’t allow you to to go in and out anyways, Once your in YOUR IN. Also people who cause trouble aren’t going to pay 6 dollars to cause trouble. They will most likely do it in their own neighborhood.