Save the Carmel Coastline from Football Stadium Lights

Carmel Unified School District

Say NO to Lights, Noise and Traffic in Carmel

There IS a Better Way

UPDATE: CUSD has released the new Revised Draft EIR and deadline for comment is Oct 10.
This is our only opportunity to tell CUSD Board and Superintendent why massive lights on Scenic Hwy 1 is wrong for Carmel!
Send RDEIR comments to:

Let Carmel Unified School District know that 80-foot football stadium lights will bring unacceptable light/noise/traffic pollution, and forever harm this unique and beautiful area for generations to come.

Let's tell CUSD that there are better ways forward for both our Carmel students and our surrounding communities, without harming the unique and beautiful coastline that millions come to visit each year. Please sign this petition.

The proposal to install massive 80-foot lights at the Carmel High School football stadium will cost our school district over $4.8 million and fundamentally change Carmel, causing far-reaching and harmful effects across our community and natural environment:

  • Impaired Viewsheds of Iconic Coastal Areas: Four 80-foot light towers mounted on a hill will be visible from hundreds of homes and businesses both near and distant from the CHS campus, ranging from Jacks Peak, to Carmel Valley, to Point Lobos. When in use, the lights’ intense glare will significantly obscure and degrade treasured ocean and valley views that are symbolic of Carmel, and treasured by residents and visitors. See examples here.

  • Traffic & parking jams: The draft EIR estimates over 2000 spectators will drive in on Hwy 1 to a parking lot with only 200 parking spots. Most vehicles will spill out into the surrounding residential streets and overflow into the Friday night traffic on Hwy 1. This will be hazardous for road safety, and limit access by emergency vehicles. See examples here.

  • Noise up to 90 dB: Shouting, the PA system, stomping, air horns, cars, etc., all generating 70-90 decibels, equivalent to a loud vacuum cleaner, that will echo through Hatton Canyon and can be heard for well over half a mile.

  • Light Dome across the Night Sky: The 5.4 millions lumens from these lights will be magnified up to 10x from the marine layer that is common on the Carmel coastline and will create a massive light dome that obscures the night sky and be visible to homes far from the CHS campus. See examples here.

  • Every Day and Night: With daily practice by multiple sports teams and public rentals enabled by the Civic Center Act, this traffic/noise/light pollution can occur every night of every week, 365 days/year, and as late as 10 pm.

  • Environmental Impact: Energy use from over 46,000 fixture watts is bad for the environment, contributes to climate change, and may disrupt nearby animals and natural habitats.  

  • Community Harm: With all the above negative impacts from traffic, noise and light to the beauty and tranquility of Carmel, residents of the many neighborhoods who can hear or see the stadium will see lower interest from buyers and reduced property values when time comes to sell their homes.

This proposal requires a thorough evaluation and public consultation process, including a well-researched Environmental Impact Report that includes input from the entire community. However, the Draft EIR is deeply flawed and vague, except in its certainty that there will be significant and unavoidable harmful impacts from these huge stadium lights that cannot be mitigated.

Our group is diverse from across the greater Carmel area, including CHS parents and alumni, Carmel business owners and long-time residents. We are all here in Carmel because we have an appreciation for the unique and special place in which we live, and we share a sense of responsibility to protect the incredible natural beauty for our community, future generations and the many who come visit.

What is the big deal with adding some lights for the kids?

Many of us are alums, parents and supporters of CHS, and we all want what is best for our kids. But let’s ask ourselves this: Who benefits from the football stadium lights and who is harmed?

A major objective cited in the draft EIR for installing these 80-foot football field lights is to have Friday night football games. There are six football home games a year and these games have been successfully held on Saturdays for as long as CHS has had a football team. There are also games for lacrosse and soccer, but these see much lower attendance than football. So, with just a few sports that will benefit and a long track record of Saturday afternoon football games, why do we need these stadium lights all of a sudden?

While football is driving all this, the Civic Center Act allows anyone to rent out the stadium and CHS already has it listed for rent, every night of every week, 365 days/year, and as late as 10 pm. Some of the football games are expected to draw 2000+ attendees (e.g. homecoming game), and these events rented by the public may be even larger. To accommodate these large crowds, the CUSD has allocated over $4.8 million for this project, which now also includes tearing out the tennis courts next to the stadium and replacing them with more parking. Despite this, the parking will still be insufficient, so there is funding to pay for shuttles from offsite parking, such as Carmel Middle School. All this of course means lots more traffic along Hwy 1, and even worse, all on a Friday evening.

Some folks will say that lots of other schools have stadium lights too. Is Carmel really like lots of other places though? At other much larger cities, such as Monterey, there is already significantly more lights, traffic and noise due to their larger population. In contrast, Carmel still has wonderfully dark skies at night and the communities in Carmel work very hard to protect them. For example, Carmel-by-the-Sea restricts lighting fixtures to 25 watts and no more than 10 feet above the ground, with the ordinance saying: "A key feature of the “forest” concept is to minimize the amount of outdoor lighting, such that the nighttime sky may be glimpsed through the trees." Similarly, Carmel Valley residents are actively working to get dark sky certification to protect their tranquil nights and star-gazing.

There is a better way.

The CHS student body is growing every year, and the current CHS campus is bursting at the seams but further expansion isn't possible with the homes surrounding the school. It may surprise some of you to hear that the Carmel Middle School campus was actually intended to become the site of the high school when it was purchased back in 1963. With an additional 8.23 acre parcel purchased in 2018, the current CMS location has space to grow for the future. The 2019 CUSD Facilities Master Plan already envisions six athletic fields with lights at this location. This would be the ideal home for CHS and would enable all of its athletic programs to practice at the same time on the same campus, something that will never be possible on the current CHS campus.

Another argument put forth for football stadium lights is for the new "late start" statewide mandate. We applaud plans to switch to a later starting time, as studies have shown later start times benefit adolescent minds and improve academic results. Many schools, such as the highly-ranked Junipero Serra High School, have already made this switch by adjusting their bell schedules so that the last period ends before 3pm, leaving plenty of time to have afternoon practices. Also, keep in mind that late start is starting later by just 30 minutes, so the upcoming federal legislation to make daylight savings permanent will actually give students a full extra hour in the fall, which more than makes up for the 30-minute later start.

With $4.8 million allocated for this project, there should be considerable debate about this expenditure of school funds, especially with better alternatives mentioned above. These funds could instead be directed towards numerous academic, arts and athletic programs to better enhance the educational experience of all students, or perhaps a new high school campus at the current middle school site that can deliver on everything we want for our kids.

For more detailed information on the potential impacts of the proposed stadium lights, and how to get involved, please visit our website:

Note: If you would like to support our cause, financially or otherwise, please let us know through this Contact Us form on our website.

Thank you!

To: Carmel Unified School District
From: [Your Name]

We love the unique beauty and tranquility of Carmel, and are against the installation of 80-foot light towers at the Carmel High School stadium that sits just across Highway 1 from the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

What you are doing now will forever change the amazing Carmel coastline for the worse. Do not let this be your legacy! Instead, show you care about the community and the environment and end this terrible project.