Author Topic: Light Pollution Letter  (Read 158 times)

Sean Meyer

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2018, 08:53:58 AM »
Article 85:463-475 of the Brookhaven Town Code - Exterior lighting standards...a decent start I would think..My bet would be that most towns don't even yet have exterior lighting standards and it specifically mentions the goal of preserving the ability to view the night sky.

Sam Noble

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2018, 06:08:29 AM »
The Huntington town code is similar, as it happens. Here's a section of it:

All exterior lighting shall be designed, located, and lamped in order to prevent:
1. Over lighting.
2. Energy waste.
3. Glare.
4. Light trespass.
5. Unnecessary sky glow.  <==== LOOK!!
6. Interference with pedestrian or vehicular travel on streets, roadways and highways.
7. A public hazard or nuisance.

B. All exterior lighting shall use fully shielded luminaires, with the light source directed downward and with the fixture installed level with the horizontal plane, with the following exceptions:
(1) Unshielded luminaires in residentially-utilized properties are permitted as long as there is no more than 900 lumens (one sixty (60) watt incandescent light or compact fluorescent) per fixture, or if the luminaires are shielded or directed downward and do not cause glare or light trespass.
(2) Unshielded floodlights and fixtures of less than 1,800 lumens (100 watt incandescent light) in residentially utilized properties are permitted if angled downward so that the center of the beam is not directed above a forty-five (45) degree angle. Lighting fixtures with timers and motion sensors are encouraged.

etc...

The problem, people, is that these codes aren't being enforced. We have the backup to do something (at least some of us do). Those who don't can point to these codes and ask their local town councils to do something about it.

Those who have such codes should write to their town councils and point out that most street lights are violating their own codes. I'll be doing this soon.

Again, I'm very sorry about Dave's experience but if "sky glow" is listed in the codes then it's obviously not true that the fight is futile. We just need to push harder and use the laws where available. Who's game?

Ralph Gleason

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2018, 07:04:24 AM »
Good point.  I am lucky enough to have those dim yellow streetlights on my street but that's not the case a few blocks away.I do have a noticible glow above my eastern horizon.  I am game to research it and do something about it! Now you got me motivated!

Nathan Sorgaard

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2018, 02:32:47 PM »
Wonderful to hear! When I have drafted a letter I will post it to this thread. Take a look at the IDA's website. There are plenty of encouraging stories, including one where a chain store decided to modify the lights across all their stores once alerted to the problem. There are definitely right and wrong ways of approaching the matter. Get in touch with IDA for advice if you need it.

I think the important thing to remember is that most people like their lights and rightfully consider it to be their business what they do on their property. They don't want to be told what to do. Imagine what it would feel like if your neighbors approached you and asked you to re-paint your house because they don't like beige. You'd tell them where to stick, wouldn't you? Particularly with neighbors we need to trend awfully carefully. The ideal situation would be to get places like Home Depot involved. If people were unable to buy bad fixtures then most domestic light trespass would automatically vanish in 10 or 20 years.

ifaclidis

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2018, 04:26:49 PM »
Yeah, Town of Oyster Bay has all those code ordinances too.  It doesn't matter, it's not enforceable and besides, everyone considers lighting a security measure.  If anything, bringing up these code violations will force legislative changes in the wrong direction -- they will simply change the codes to allow for the lighting as they exist now, or even allow for more lighting. The street lights on my block are in clear violation of the code below, yet the town doesn't care.  They insist there is nothing they can do because of the type of lights they are.  It doesn't matter what the code says, no one is going to come out with a truck and ladder and shield a thousand lights.  No one is going to call up the school superintendent and tell him to turn off the 15 million-candle lights surrounding the school all night long, or the huge lights surrounding the running track all night long.  Someone will just go to a town board meeting and complain that they run laps at night and it doesn't feel safe.  I've been to those meetings, I've heard that very complaint, and I've witnessed a vote right there to install lights and leave them on all night.  I voiced an objection, it was noted, it doesn't matter.I'm sensitive to the plight.  I agree with the views.  I want dark skies.  But fighting town hall is a losing battle.  I've been to these meetings, there is no rhyme or reason to them.  I've spoken at these meetings.  What could the argument possibly be:"Hi. I'm here today to point out wasteful spending on school lighting, street lighting, residential and commercial lighting.  Aside from blatant code violations, these lights expend money directly into the sky for no reason. They are also annoying.  Let me show you some numbers...""Oh, gee, thanks for telling us. That's nice you care so much.  Hmmm, let's take a vote: All in favor of leaving lights on for safety of our family and children?  All in favor of forcing lights to be turned off or shielded? You remember those home invasions in Great Neck on the news lately, right folks? They are complaining that there are no street lights, and the lights in the nearby park are off at night. The police dogs followed the scent into that park. Residents are now demanding all the lights be turned on and street lights installed.  All in favor of robbery?  No?  All in favor of safety?  Good!  Now go away, we are not spending five million dollars replacing and shielding ten thousand lights when we can't even balance our budget or pay our teachers. Get lost, hippie freak."No one is going to knock on all my neighbor's houses to remind them that town code prevents usage of exterior lighting more than 60 watts, and also requires shielding from adjacent neighbors.  It just won't happen.  And even if they got a letter in the mail, it will be ignored.  People have illegal pools and dormers, you think they care that they have 1000-watt spotlights surrounding their house all night?  I work in Woodbury and my entire building -- that's four entire floors -- leaves the lights on all night long.  Every room, every floor, all lights outside, even the parking lot.  Every light.  All night, every single night of the year.  So does every building in this street.  It's day here all night long.  I can see Geico's main headquarters from my office.  I see their huge building and their massive parking lot.  I can count 40 parking lot lights, not including the lights surrounding the building and walkways.  They are on all the time, every night, weekends, holidays, it doesn't matter.  There is also a security car driving around all night long.  What could possibly make them turn off all these lights?  Nothing that I can think of.  And no town official is going to stick his neck on the line with some hippie reason about dark skies, light pollution, and wasteful spending for the possibility of losing a company that employees 2,000 residence and pays high taxes.The argument will always be "Light pollution, dark skies, money, etc." vs. "Security" and security will always win.I want to help, I want to believe, but I don't think it can ever happen.  If you complain that the school lighting is too intrusive, some poor old lady who lives across the street is going to walk up to the podium after you and complain that she doesn't feel safe walking home from Stop n' Shop at night.  The argument will move from removing lights to installing more.  I've seen it, I was there, I witnessed these very arguments and MORE lights installed.  And guess what, those new lights ALSO didn't adhere to the town's own codes about street lighting and shielding.I consider these ordinances akin to "you are not permitted to park your horse at city hall."  They are simply there from a long time ago, it doesn't make a difference, an incredible majority of residents and officials want more night lighting, not less of it.  Even the thought of shielding, removing, or dimming night lighting makes my neighbors turn up an eyebrow.  It is inconceivable to them that this would be a problem, in fact to them MORE lighting is better.Sorry to be such a buzz-kill, it's just how I feel about it.  I'm not happy about it, I just think it's the way of the world.-DaveOrdinance quote for Town of Oyster Bay:Exterior lighting. All exterior lighting accessory to multifamily or nonresidence uses, and all exterior lighting of recreation facilities accessory to a residence use, including pole- and building-mounted area lighting and the lighting of signs, shall be of such type and location and shall have such shielding as will prevent the source of light from being visible from any adjoining streets, public areas and neighboring properties and prevent objectionable glare observable from such streets or properties. The height and lighting intensity of exterior lighting fixtures shall be determined on a case-by-case basis by the site plan reviewing authority, which shall consider the size, nature and location of the proposed use, and the site's relationship to neighboring properties and uses. In general, the height and lighting intensity of exterior lighting fixtures shall not exceed 24 feet and/or 400 watts, respectively. Lighting levels for nonresidential uses shall generally not exceed an average intensity of three footcandles, nor be an average of less than one-half (0.5) footcandle at pavement level. Exterior lighting shall be extinguished within one hour of the closing of the business or nonresidence use, except for such illumination as may be permitted by the reviewing agency for property protection and security purposes. No neon or other such lighting outlining a building, structure or other architectural feature is permitted.

Dale Khan

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2018, 09:55:47 PM »
Dave, I'm sure you speak the truth. It was certainly on my mind that if I went around complaining then the law might be changed to stop me. I agree that we can't fight the safety issue and we should probably confine ourselves to battles we can win. Perhaps town hall isn't it. In Wales some towns wanted to switch off the lights after midnight but there was vigorous local opposition so they dropped the plans. It's good of you to go to these meetings and give it a try. Thanks for trying!Let me give you an example of a situation where it can work, however. I work at Cold Spring Harbor Lab and the local residents (who are, I admit, of the wealthy variety and may be potential donors) don't want to live next to an industrial complex. They complained that they don't want the place lit up in said manner. The result? The lab is practically a model of good lighting. There's enough light where it's needed and no more. Lights are fantastically well shielded. So change is possible. Perhaps the best place for it to come from is within the industry.

lorndwatassi

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2018, 10:02:41 PM »
Effect of street lighting on crime:
www.e-doca.eu/content/docs/fcpu29.pdf

meenchinobun

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2018, 11:54:28 PM »
The problem of citing an old 1991 document on "the effect of lighting on crime" is the statistics used in the work has been heavly disputed by other statistitions.I'd like to bring you more up to date with this following work"A demonstration that the claim that brighter lighting reduces crime is unfounded"http://praxis.leedsm...lighting_pm.pdf

puzzweetscareg

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2018, 11:46:42 AM »
Thanks for letting me know!
To avoid getting off topic I shall start a new thread. We can keep this one for letters.

revenade

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2018, 05:39:56 PM »
Quote
Dave, I'm sure you speak the truth. It was certainly on my mind that if I went around complaining then the law might be changed to stop me. I agree that we can't fight the safety issue and we should probably confine ourselves to battles we can win. .....

I would bet that most town ordinances are only enforced if someone complains. If they don’t want to enforce an ordnance, threaten to sue. That will change their minds quickly. Most of the anti-LP ordnances on the Island are rather new laws. I’d assume that they must have debated the impact before they passed them.

One thing to remember fighting the ‘don’t take my lights away because I won’t be safe’ argument is to remind them that you only want to cut wasted light heading up into the sky, or horizontally into drivers’ eyes. You are not suggesting reducing light hitting the ground. Ask: “So, do you really want to waste money lighting up the bellys of birds?”

Of course one solution here is to try once more to pass the NYS anti-LP law that has failed 3 times. The towns would have to comply with a state law. During one go-round local governments objected that the state would be adding yet another mandate without providing funds for enforcement. The last version of the bill included state funds for LP enforcement. The bill passed the Legislature almost unanimously, only to be pocket vetoed.

Jeff Weiss

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2018, 07:28:13 PM »
Quote
Why isn't light pollution seen as problematic as other kinds of pollution such as water, air, noise and so on? We are working hard in all these other areas--but only a very little in the area of light pollution.

Light pollution is the easiest kind of pollution to clean up.  Cleanup costs little to nothing and the energy/cost savings are immediate.

I think the biggest hurdle is actually convincing the non-skywatching public that excess lighting is actually a form of "pollution," which is an alien concept to most people.

There have been many high profile efforts to get people to change their light bulbs to CFLs (which IMO are still not good, but that's another topic altogether) to save energy, but why not also a push for "use full-cutoff, low wattage outdoor fixtures, and only turn them on when needed"?

geblusandde

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2018, 08:48:05 PM »
Quote
If cleanup involves new light fittings or bulbs then it may cost a lot. Shielding makes the problem better but doesn't save money on its own. Switching off lights, of course, will have immediate cost savings.

I think the energy savings from conversion to LED streetlights is pretty significant, and worth the investment. Anyway, it’s only a matter of time…… Last night, while listening in to the GlobeAtNight telecon, I heard the speaker (the professional astronomer responsible for anti-LP near Kit Peak) say that there is only one remaining plant in the world making the discharge tube bulbs for mercury and sodium lights, and they don’t plan on doing it much longer. After that, there won’t be any replacement discharge tubes, so it’s LEDs, or darkness.

You’re right on just doing shielding not saving money, except that the shields result in increased light on the ground since they reflect downward the light that was going up, and thus some of the existing fixtures can be de-bulbed. Shielded sports field lights will put the same light on the field for less total wattage, and far less sky glow effect. The shielded sports lights are only a little more expensive.

revenade

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2018, 09:10:30 PM »
Quote
I spoke to my town street lighting division and got some kid on the phone.  I spoke about the lights surrounding my house and how they glare into our bedrooms and keep us up at night.  He had no idea what I was talking about.  I asked to have them shielded and he basically said, "Um yeah, okay bye."

-Dave

I guess it’s time to send them a certified letter requesting the shield(s) and a response as to when they will do it, or why not.

kocewaffre

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Re: Light Pollution Letter
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2018, 03:09:46 AM »
Quote
One thing to remember fighting the ‘don’t take my lights away because I won’t be safe’ argument is to remind them that you only want to cut wasted light heading up into the sky, or horizontally into drivers’ eyes. You are not suggesting reducing light hitting the ground. Ask: “So, do you really want to waste money lighting up the bellys of birds?”.

Another way that demonstrates the absurdity of their own position is to ask, "Who is walking up in the sky that needs their safety protected?"

This points out how ridiculous what they are asking is.  We're not against light, we're against DUMB light.