23 Aug 2014
70° Partly Cloudy

The Driving Range's Lights Will Go On

The City Council unanimously approves after-dark lighting at the San Juan Hills Golf Club's driving range, overturning an earlier Planning Commission decision.

The Driving Range's Lights Will Go On

Golfers and wannabe golfers will soon be able to get their swing on after dark.

The City Council approved Tuesday lighting at the’s driving range.

While the council was unanimous, the community was not. Fifteen residents spoke, nine in favor and six against.

Councilwoman Laura Freese noted that the city also received almost four dozen letters on the subject, 38 urging approval of the lights, six against.

“It’s easier to go in after work than it is going in the middle of the day,” said Roy Nunn, who, although on the Planning Commission, was speaking as a “citizen and a hacker of golf.”

At a November meeting, in a 3-2 vote. Nunn was one of the two.

“I gave up golf years ago, for the safety of my friends,” he quipped.

Although everyone in the council chambers enjoyed a joke or two – Councilman Sam Allevato quoted Mark Twain’s observation that “golf is a good walk spoiled (although some dispute the quote’s origin) – several residents took the proposal quite seriously. They called for the City Council to require a demonstration of one or two fixtures before improving the entire plan.

The golf course has been a good neighbor to us, and we would like to be a good neighbor for them. 

                              – John Perry


But the council approved the request as-is, which will see the installation of 10 fixtures on existing net poles 50 feet high  and fixtures along three new poles to be built behind the tee area, 25-feet high.

Roberto Brutocao, one of the managing partners of the golf club, said he plans to use the newest technology which offers the best protection against glare and the “halo” effect bright lights often have.

The light intensity will be 5  foot-candles, which is 90 percent dimmer than the lights found on most sports fields, Brutocao said. But at the property line, the intensity will fade to .1 foot-candle, which is comparable to the light emanating from a full moon.

“This is by far the most responsible lighting solution ever presented in San Juan Capistrano,” he said.

But some residents weren’t buying it.

“We have an unproven lighting system,” said Yvonne Tschaikowsky. “Let them demonstrate and show us and prove to you and the community that there will not be any spillage and light pollution.”

John Perry, often a vocal critic of the City Council, spoke in favor of the lighting. He was representing the 40 residents of the 20 homes at San Juan Hills East, the tract closest to the driving range, and he said every one of them wants the lighting.

“The golf course has been a good neighbor to us, and we would like to be a good neighbor for them,” Perry said.

Others noted the economic impact, with the club currently employing 100 people and attracting people from North Orange County and San Diego County. Representing the local , CEO Mark Bodenhamer said the council members have often said they are business friendly. It was time to “walk the walk,” he said.

City staff had recommended the lights turn off at 9 p.m., but the council decided to honor the golf club operator’s request for a 10 p.m. quitting time.

“It’s there. It’s open space. It’s going to stay open space. Let’s use it to the fullest extent,” said Mayor Larry Kramer.

Share This Article