Debate over outdoor lighting shines on

City Council says current draft of proposal needs some work. Officials also vote for two car-charging stations.

May 05, 2011|By Barbara Diamond,

The City Council on Tuesday took a somewhat dim view of a proposed amendment to the city code to regulate outdoor lighting on private property.

It decided a draft of the proposal recommended by the Planning Commission needs some tweaking. Mayor Pro Tem Jane Egly was appointed to work with the sub-committee that created the draft. She will report back at the July 12 council meeting.

"Hundreds of hours have been devoted to this," Mayor Toni Iseman said. "What can be salvaged? We want to send a message that this is an important thing. How can we make it work and not sit in a round file?"


One of the major objections was regulation by complaint.

"It bothers me that it is complaint-driven," Councilman Kelly Boyd said. "I had a neighbor who complained about five houses in the neighborhood because he wanted it all dark."

Boyd said he agreed with dissenting Planning Commissioner Norma Grossman that voluntary compliance should be tried first.

"Complaint-driven [enforcement] keeps code enforcement from being pro-active," said Monica Tuchscher, staff liaison to the sub-committee.

Compliance could be as simple as changing a light bulb to a lower wattage and each case would be treated individually, Tuchscher said.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson opined that city buildings should be reviewed before the council starts dictating to residents. Iseman added that street lights on Coast Highway in Laguna are the biggest violation.

"I agree the city should set a good example, but I also would like to see a change to prohibit light trespass and protection for wildlife," Councilwoman Verna Rollinger said.

Louise Thornton, a representative of the Ocean Laguna Foundation, pointed out that the draft did not address the impact of night lighting on the marine life.

The purpose of the draft ordinance is to establish general lighting standards that reduce or prevent light pollution, glare and light trespass — light that spills from one property to another, conserve energy, preserve neighborhood character and night-sky beauty, according to Tuchscher's staff report.

"It's about time," said resident Walker Reed, an ardent amateur astronomer. "Light destroys night vision."

Outdoor lighting, under the terms of the draft, would be required to be hooded, fully shielded and aimed downward.

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