Though it has no formal say over decisions made by the Saddleback Valley Unified school district, the Lake Forest City Council should nevertheless take a stand on the district's proposal to , residents argued Tuesday night.
The proposal—which would allow more athletes to compete and practice on a home field—has drawn ire from residents of neighborhoods near the high school, who fear an influx of fans will bring traffic and public safety repercussions.
Six residents spoke at the council's Tuesday evening meeting at against the SVUSD plans, pleading for the officials to advocate for them with the school district.
"Ultimately, everyone's going to point the finger back at you," warned Robert Clark, a 26-year Lake Forest resident, of the potential for backlash from the project.
Speakers said that the project's impact on Lake Forest residents means that council members should play an active role in determining how—or if—it is built.
The plans have , pitting some Lake Forest residents opposed to the expected increase in traffic and nighttime illumination against others who believe the impacts are worth the opportunity for Chargers to play home games on their own turf.
Residents about the project.
Since then, supporters of the project have also reached out to city officials at recent council meetings, requesting they leverage their influence to push forward the project.
Three proponents spoke out at a July 17 council meeting in favor of turning the existing field into a competition-worthy space.
"The proposed improvements will benefit the student body and entire community and will remedy El Toro's persistant disadvantage of inadequate athletics facilities," said Ruth Kim, a 24-year Lake Forest resident. "El Toro's agreement of shared facilities with Trabuco Hills [High School] has become contentious, expensive and logistically impractical."
City officials have no official influence on the school district that runs Lake Forest's public schools, but have said that city staffers will comment on the reports issued by the district concerning the project.
Recently, the district released a draft Environmental Impact Report, which lays out methods to mitigate negative effects of the proposal. (Find the document on the SVUSD homepage, at the bottom of the right-hand side of the page.)
Issues noted in the report as having "potentially significant" impacts on the community include traffic, light and glare, parking and public safety.
Also included are direct effects of construction, such as a temporary increase in noise and emmissions from equipment.
The project will , according to a district estimate. SVUSD is planning to pay for it with redevelopment money earmarked for facilities improvements.
Saddleback Valley Unified School District trustees, who get the final say on the project, will consider the proposal at an upcoming board meeting.