San Jose

Push to Allow Lights at South Bay Football Field

Hundreds of high school football players throughout the Bay Area will play under the bright lights of their home fields. But for students at one school in the South Bay, Friday night lights is still just a pipe dream.

The Sobrato High Bulldogs are not allowed permanent lights because of bobcats, deer, foxes and coyotes. Even though the main part of campus is located in Morgan Hill. The football field is located in a greenbelt near Coyote Creek, which is within the City of San Jose.

The City of San Jose so far will not allow any permanent structures, including lights, out of concerns for the local wildlife.

Sobrato High has hosted football games for the past several years with temporary bleachers and portable restrooms, with the games played during the day on Saturday.

Temporary lights can be used on Fridays, but are expensive.

When the Sobrato family donated the lane for the school almost 20 years ago, the City of San Jose sued to keep permanent structures off the football field. And through a settlement, got the district to agree.

The district recently has tried to get the city to change its mind and talks are ongoing. In a letter, local environmental groups argue the lights and loud noise from the football games would disrupt feeding and migratory patterns of wildlife who travel along the Coyote Creek corridor.

"I don't get sense past council members have been willing to explore this," San Jose Councilman Sergio Jimenez said. "We are certainly moving forward in a sincere way to see if anything is possible. I'm not quite sure it will be possible."

Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Steve Betando said it's hard because it's very expensive to rent bleachers, portable bleachers and very expensive to rent lights.

Talks between the school district, the city and environmental groups continue.

Jimenez, whose district covers the football field, is trying to see if there is a path forward that would allow the school to get its permanent structure, while still protecting wildlife.

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