The tests that are currently under way are solely for the purposes of ironing out any kinks in the association’s plan to illuminate the memorial walls, walkways and flag on the federal government-owned property. Lighting tests for public vetting will be conducted in coming weeks once adjustments are made, say association representatives.
“We have some things we have to adjust,” said Bob Phillips, Mt. Soledad Memorial Association representative. “What we’ve seen so far is beautiful, but there are things that we weren’t happy with. We don’t even think it’s anything the public would be concerned about. They were just nuances that we thought would get it right.”
Memorial association representatives say lighting is primarily needed for the safety of visitors who wander among the memorials after the sun goes down and before the park closes at 10 p.m. Incidentally, illuminating the flag would also allow it to fly 24 hours a day and eliminate the need for individuals to raise and lower the flag each morning and night.
“The easement is something that is going to be very significant for many reasons other than just the lighting,” said Phillips. “We’re going to have an electronic information center and power for our events.”
While the memorial’s representatives emphasize the easement and lighting is necessary, several residents at a June 25 meeting of La Jolla Parks and Beaches said the proposal would pollute an ideal stargazing location with unnecessary artificial light.
“This is a citywide attraction,” said Fran Zimmerman. “Generations of people have gone up to Mt. Soledad to see the night sky. I’ve gone up there with my kids and grandkids to see shooting stars and eclipses of the moon, and it’s a fantastic experience.”
Sierra Club representatives, too, were on hand to express concern about the light pollution and potential effects on wildlife in the area.
“Mt. Soledad is one of the few areas that offers this dark sky, which needs to be preserved for generations,” said Jennifer Lyon from the Sierra Club’s San Diego chapter. “Furthermore, there has been numerous scientific studies that indicate that artificial lighting has effects on the wildlife species in the area as well.”
Mt. Soledad Memorial Association representatives said the lighting would be indirect, low-level LED lighting, not a bright beacon that would shine inside nearby residents’ windows.
“We are very tuned in to the importance of it,” said Phillips. “There will always be ways to adjust the lighting, and we will have the ability to turn the lights off.”
The La Jolla Parks and Beaches committee tabled a motion to deny the requested easement as the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association completes its tests. Association representatives will return to the committee at its July 23 meeting to report on the results of the test.