Neighbors of complained Tuesday night of lights that blaze long into the night and drum noise even on the weekends as more extracurricular activities, some prompted by budget cuts, are causing ongoing friction between the school and surrounding community.
At a community meeting Tuesday night, approximately 113 parents, faculty, residents and youth sports advocates filled a campus room to address intensifying problems with noise and lighting, issues that have prompted neighbor complaints over the last 10 years.
Some of the recent school activities result from district budget cuts and Pali High's need to bring in revenue from outside groups that use the campus facilities.
"I've lived here for 20 years, and the dynamics have changed," said one nearby resident. "Now it's all day, seven days a week and at night. In June, we came home at midnight from a flight. There was a team on the field at midnight on a Saturday."
Principal Pamela Magee said the majority of residents affected by light and noise coming from the Pali High campus reside on Radcliffe Avenue, El Medio Avenue, Haverford Avenue and smaller streets in the neighborhood across Temescal Canyon Road.
El Medio Avenue resident Moira Tenzer said she's lived in the area for 22 years, and wants to make sure the issue does not portray the high school's neighbors as not liking kids, or unreasonable about activities at a grade school campus.
"They deserve the best," Tenzer said, but then pointed to the use of loudspeakers, whistles and vuvuzelas at night from sports games. "We're asking for a little bit of citizenship so at night and on the weekends, there's some quiet. I don't think that's asking much."
Magee indicated the school is open to taking steps that could address the community concerns, but that income to the school could be impacted.
About the possibility of capping onsite field and pool use to accomodate nearby residents, Magee said: "We have to look at the loss of revenue in cutting any hours." She added the school appreciates the public's patience with the process for addressing the concerns.
Richard Held of AYSO Soccer said the group gave a large sum of money to Pali High to put in new field turf and lighting.
"But that's done for the community," he said. He asked parents at the meeting if they have kids who played AYSO Soccer. Many hands went up.
"The school's been hammered by budget cuts. That’s $500 per student. To put a constraint on the school's going to be very difficult. These teachers and administrators are trying to run a school with 3,000 students," Held said.
Resident Denise Morris said she lives near a trailhead in Palisades, and empathized with the high school's neighbors about noise problems.
"I put in blackout curtains and double-paned windows and it's helped considerably," she said. "I am compassionate of the programs here. My son is happier than he's ever been with Westside Aquatics."
Those who work at the school also related to the neighbors complaints.
Judi Firth, who works as a credit clerk at Pali High for 10 years, said some days she wishes she could turn off the drum noise for just 20 minutes while working.
"But they're winning trophies," she said. "If you don’t want this, start making $100,000 donations a year to the school so we can keep things running."
Tuesday's meeting produced at least one idea that could move the school and community to a compromise.
Magee said an eight-member task force of community and school representatives was proposed. She said the school administration will make sure any task force is staffed with a balance of parents and neighbors. The hope is the panel can come back in October with new information and possible solutions.