Mailbag: Controlling outdoor lighting is a dim idea

July 21, 2011

Editor's Note: This letter was addressed to the City Council:

I know that City Council members Kelly Boyd and Elizabeth Pearson voted against it, but it appears now that Laguna Beach will have the "light police."

Is it really necessary to have one more thing that people can go the city to complain about? There are, I'm sure, a few people who whine and complain about their neighbor's exterior house and landscape lights, and I'm even more sure there are some legitimate reasons to complain.


But I'm not sure the city has the right to be involved in every private property dispute. There are two very big problems with this kind of law.

One, how about a lawsuit against the city? If the city gets involved in making a decision about someone's personal property it could very well end in a court battle with the city right in the middle.

Two, it will give some people a sense that, rather than talking to the offender and trying to work things out, they can simply call the city and file a complaint. Then who is the arbiter of "proper" lighting? The council? Some new city employee?

Apparently you don't believe people can be reasonable or you think you are the only ones capable and therefore you should be making private property decisions, even if it's not your property. My exterior lighting should not be decided by you or my neighbors.

Yes, there may be some individuals that will abuse their responsibility as a good neighbor with their landscape or other exterior lights. But I think there will be far more frivolous and petty complaints lodged by people that feel their rights exceed those of the property owner.

What's next, water police? When someone goes overboard with their watering, what are you going to do? Go on their property and turn their water off? Their penalty is they pay a larger bill. Maybe you won't like the tint of their windows. Are you going mandate they change their windows?

I think you guys stick your noses in places you have no business. This is government over-reach. It's bad enough when the Feds and the state do it, but this is truly scary. Look, the bottom line is that you must think residents can't handle disputes without your wisdom and that property owners' rights come second to the city.

Then again, maybe you feel personal property rights come second to your preferences. I would respectfully ask that you reconsider implementing this intrusive law.

Ralph Balcof

Laguna Beach


Waiting for a safer marine habitat

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles