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Small, VERY local, hopefully not temporary victory

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#26 csrlice12

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 02:36 PM

Hey, have frequent star parties at your house and invite everyone who has one of those coffee grinder mounts........

#27 magic612

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 07:10 PM

That's an interesting idea about the ordinance. Where do you think I can start "digging" into these in my city?

Bob


Try doing a web search for your city and/or state outdoor lighting regulations.


Yup - I had looked at mine before. I just typed in my city, state and then local ordinances or something like that. Usually they can be found from your municipality's home page, though sometimes that can take some digging to find them. But most places have them posted in PDF form or some other format.

Once I had the right section, I just did some Ctrl-F searches using "light" or "lighting" to find the relevant sub-sections quickly.

#28 Astro88

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 07:26 PM

That's an interesting idea about the ordinance. Where do you think I can start "digging" into these in my city?

Bob



Try http://www.municode.com

#29 Jeff Phinney

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 07:44 PM

Have you tried "light trespass" as a search term?

#30 REC

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 10:53 AM

Hey, thanks for the tip on the municode and will start there!

Bob

#31 magic612

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:10 PM

Update:

I did receive a note back from the Village Administrator, the day after my initial email. His response was basically, we'll do an investigation of the neighbor's lights and get that started, but the streetlight is the electric company's deal - we sent your info to them so they can contact you.

In the interim, the electric company DID come out to look at the streetlight. Two things about that: 1) They NEVER contacted me ahead of time and 2) My kids - who did a nice job of at least trying with the electric company dude since I wasn't there - relayed the information they said, which was essentially, "The Village tells us what to do here about streetlights - there's nothing we can do."

So I'm getting a big runaround, as you can see.

When that happened, I recontacted the Village Administrator, detailing that information, and asking how the neighbor light investigation was going. That was two weeks ago. I STILL had not heard anything as of yesterday, the most recent business day.

So today, a full MONTH after I initiated contact, I wrote this response:

"Dear Mr. [Village Administrator]

Exactly one month ago today, I contacted you regarding the lights shining into my daughter's bedroom window. In that time, ComEd has come out and said they will do nothing without village approval. I wrote to you about that 2 weeks ago. I am also still waiting for a Village response in regards to the review you indicated you would initiate back on July 24. It is now August 24.

I feel confident that if there was loud music playing at night or other noise disturbances, the police would be on scene within a matter of minutes. I suppose because it is light - which is actually more harmful than sound, based on some recent research linking it to breast and prostate cancer, not to mention sleep disorders (see this link http://www.ncbi.nlm....les/PMC3002207/ ) - there is less urgency, as it only affects those in direct line-of-sight?

Please, I am asking for your help. I would like this problem resolved, and the Village Code certainly appears to support my position that these lights are a nuisance and should be changed / remedied. This is a simple problem to resolve; the lights either need to be changed, or shielded so they aim down at the ground. I am not asking for them to be off. I am asking for them to light the ground underneath where they are located, and simply keep light from going into a SECOND floor window, where it is neither wanted nor needed. If you drive through Route [XX] in [ABCCity] when it is raining at night or see the new, black post lamps installed in the Village of [XYZABC], you can see how better lights make it easier to see, as there is less glare due to the well-shielded lights. Even the lights at [12345] Dodge here in [our village] are well-shielded, ensuring they light up ONLY the area on the ground below them, and not residences nearby.

[The electric company] has thrown the ball back into your court. Please help me in this matter, and let me know where things stand so I do not feel as if nothing is being done. The Village Code backs me up here - it would seem that this should be a simple matter to resolve. Please let me know what the hold-up is here.

And I should add that since we are nearing autumn, the streetlight at [CROSS STREETS] will be shining into my own bedroom window from over 100 feet away when the leaves fall off the trees. Note that better shielded lights use less energy as well, because they aren't shining light needlessly up into the air.


I am providing all of this info so others can use this language if they wish, and to keep going even when things move slowly. Because I WILL make a difference in my neighborhood, my town, and ideally over a wider area. I just know it will be VERY slow going, and will take a long time to get things changed.

This is encouragement from me to others to KEEP AT IT.

#32 REC

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 10:21 AM

THAT is an excellent letter!

Thanks for sharing:)

Bob

#33 richard7

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 01:08 PM

Valiant effort if it works or not.
Keep us informed.

#34 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 08:29 PM

I am simply going to move, dome and all, to a better site. Set to close on the new place late this week. No covenants either. Have you ever thought of moving? Sometimes that is the better solution.

#35 magic612

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 09:22 PM

Thanks for the kudos. I suppose I have a pretty good gift for writing stuff like that.

I don't plan to move. One of my kids is still in school - we are not gonna move just for me, based on the lighting. Plus, I feel like that's what a lot of amateur astronomers wind up doing, one way or the other. Rather than meeting the problem head-on, we go away from it. Eventually, we're going to run out of places to go, if all of us leave for darker skies. And the light will follow us, because no one will be speaking up against it.

John, I don't mean that as a slight against you - I completely understand the desire to get away from it. But some of us really do need to stay, and fight this problem. So I am going to share my experiences here to help others know how they can get started and use my experience as a template to do it themselves.

And in so doing, I hope I can help inspire others to take steps of their own, and even teach me, and others, what successes they have (and learn from failures too).

#36 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 10:29 PM

I am not moving just because of LP. There are other more important reasons, like traffic, taxes, neighborhood development, covenants, etc, etc. Also, being retired will be to my advantage, with a large acreage to care for.

#37 magic612

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 08:56 AM

I received an email from the Village Administrator this morning. Since I didn't ask for permission to copy it and post here, I will summarize the contents. Basically he apologized for not responding sooner, and indicated that contact with the electric company was initiated. That information was forwarded to another contact who deals more with streetlights, designs, costs, etc., and that he will contact me again when he hears back.

I thanked him for the email and to keep me informed. I'll keep updating progress as I hear more.

#38 richard7

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 04:12 PM

Now that sounds promising!

#39 GeneT

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 08:19 PM

You handled this very diplomatically. Your neighbors are not going to budge. Putting the neighbors aside, if their lights were out, how dark are your skies? I have thought a lot about the frustration of trying to view in light polluted skies. You can view out your back yard, find a site about 20 miles from home, and a site further out, i.e. a dark sky site. I believe the best answer is to buy some property at a dark sky site and put up a permanent observatory. Then, drive to the place for a night or two, or over a long weekend, and eventually keep it as a retirement home.

#40 magic612

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 08:42 PM

I should point out a few recent successes that I have had in the past couple of months.

My wife works at our local library, and it is located just down the street from us - actually, within line-of-sight from my house, and my neighbor's house. My wife is well aware of my light pollution efforts, and even when she was asked what lights they should put in their parking lot a few years ago, she said the right kind. Sadly, they didn't GET those lights, and have some horrible, sideways facing mini-Suns, but she did recently get a 'win' there.

There are two post lamps just outside the door to the library. They are the typical, house-type post lamps: Badly designed, throwing light everywhere with typical incandescent bulbs. There is a new director at the library, so when one of the bulbs burned out earlier this week, my wife asked if they could be replaced with the silver-crown style bulbs that are in my first post here. The new director thought it was a great idea, so I sent my wife to work with two bulbs today, and they are now in those fixtures.

Yay for small wins! :jump: :woot: :woohoo:

The other small win is my neighbor BEHIND my house (not the one next door that refuses to change their lighting). This neighbor came to one of my astronomy presentations a couple years ago, and after I finished (and had mentioned light pollution and turning off lights at night) she said, "Well why didn't you say something sooner - I'd have turned off my lights for you!"

For a couple years, she has. She has two "post lamp" type fixtures on the back of her deck. But I approached her a few weeks ago and said that she could have those lights on a bit more often is she'd like, simply by using those bulbs. I gave her two of them, and her husband put them in. I noticed them when the lights were on last week.

Yay! Another win! :jump: :grin:

So if you include the post lamp in my backyard, plus the new fixture I put on the front of my house, that's SIX lights now in my immediate area that are FAR less light polluting of the sky than they were two years ago. We CAN make a difference! It just takes time. And I may not make any headway with my other neighbor, but I have high hopes for the streetlamps being changed. We'll see.

Oh, and if anyone wants those silver crown bulbs, there are incandescent ones here (I just bought 12 more for myself to give away):

http://1000bulbs.com...be-light-bulbs/

And a CFL version here:

http://www.genesisla...bocofllibu.html

#41 magic612

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 09:01 PM

You handled this very diplomatically. Your neighbors are not going to budge. Putting the neighbors aside, if their lights were out, how dark are your skies? I have thought a lot about the frustration of trying to view in light polluted skies. You can view out your back yard, find a site about 20 miles from home, and a site further out, i.e. a dark sky site. I believe the best answer is to buy some property at a dark sky site and put up a permanent observatory. Then, drive to the place for a night or two, or over a long weekend, and eventually keep it as a retirement home.


Thanks for the thoughts, Gene.

I know the neighbors are not going to budge on their own. But that is why, since I really don't have the option to 1) move anytime soon 2) spend the time driving to a dark sky site much less 3) buy any property that could serve as an observatory, I am trying to build a model for other people who are in my shoes to be able to do the same thing, by detailing what happens around me.

We need to show we can have success at this.

I have had success now with SIX lights, two of which were my own. Small, very limited success? Sure. But better than going backwards. And that is only after a couple of months of really doing anything on that front (I've been making my "Eyes on the Sky" videos for 2.5 years now). That's progress. Small, limited, to be sure, but still progress. There's a ton more post lamps around me; I'll approach those neighbors. For those who are receptive immediately, I'll give them a silver crown bulb to install. For those who are resistant, I'll work the "long view" via my Village Board, and by starting a campaign in town.

First, I'll put up the posters, as I mentioned earlier in the thread. I need to re-do some of them, as my wife had a better idea on how to approach this which is...

Second, do a presentation at my local library on SLEEP disorders, and then talk a lot about both indoor and outdoor lighting, and how we should change it.

I already have a website I can use to direct people; I just need to update it with the relevant information and then have that as the place for people to go to find more complete info, with links and detailed data.

We need a whole bunch of people on our side, not just amateur astronomers, who I am often frustrated by because their solution is "go away from the light pollution" rather than "do something about it." I'm intent on confronting this problem head-on, since I really don't have the time or money to do the "get away from it" option.

Granted, my stars are 4.5 NELM at zenith on a bad night, and 5.0 on a good night. That's not too shabby, so I can live with that for now. Yes, I'd like to have darker, but other people deal with a lot worse than that. I just hope to show them how they can make a difference in their neighborhoods too, so collectively, we'll start making a dent in this problem.

:)

#42 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 12:14 AM

In this town, you might find yourself a target if you rub the wrong person the wrong way. Been a few neighbors around here who would go off on a profane rant if you only looked at them while walking by.

#43 csrlice12

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 09:35 AM

Of course, you could become your neighbor's worst nightmare and return the favor.....just find out what he likes......

#44 REC

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 10:19 AM

Well Bully for you! What wattage where your silver crown bulbs that you gave to your neighbor? I want to get a few of them to put in my neighbors small light fixture on their patio's. I think they are 60 watt or less?

Also there are some post light fixtures on my street that throw light all over the place. I called the city and they installed a couple of shields that block 1/3 of the light coming out sideways as a test. I need to start bugging him again to get a few more installed as it helps some. So, I'm thinking that maybe some of these crown light bulbs may even work in the street lights? I think they just take screw in type bulbs?

Thanks!

bob

#45 magic612

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 10:53 AM

Well Bully for you! What wattage where your silver crown bulbs that you gave to your neighbor? I want to get a few of them to put in my neighbors small light fixture on their patio's. I think they are 60 watt or less?


Mostly 60W bulbs. Partly I worry that people will THINK they are too dim, because they don't look as bright when they aren't shining in your face, despite that the overall illumination of the ground is actually better. We can work on lowering lumens in due time. Baby steps, you know? :)

Also there are some post light fixtures on my street that throw light all over the place. I called the city and they installed a couple of shields that block 1/3 of the light coming out sideways as a test. I need to start bugging him again to get a few more installed as it helps some. So, I'm thinking that maybe some of these crown light bulbs may even work in the street lights? I think they just take screw in type bulbs?


Oooh, I don't know about streetlights. They often use different types of bulbs, not typical screw-in ones like we use in homes. You'll have to check that though - depends on what fixtures you have locally, I suppose.

#46 magic612

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 10:35 PM

Two days ago, a couple things happened:

1) I sent a follow up email to our village administrator. At this point, I am assuming he sent the follow up to the electric company person that he forgot to send the last time, so I'll cut him some slack until next week. These things are going to take time, I realize.

2) My neighbor's light burned out. Now, the LAST time it went out, I apparently was stupid enough to go over there and offer a better light. Of course, NO light is ideal, so at the moment, I am keeping my mouth shut and enjoying the "no light streaming into my house" from their burned out light in their post lamp. Though, I confess, I find it a bit ironic that they were adamant about having all that extra light, yet this is twice now when they haven't noticed that the light burned out. Odd, isn't it? ;)

#47 bluesteel

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 01:43 PM

Haha! The one time I am glad the lightbulb companies bought the patents and hid the research for everlasting bulbs. I'm willing to bet they won't notice for at least a month. How often do people really look out their windows at night to see what is in their backyard anyhow? Looks like karma is working in your favour. It must be all those fantastic YouTube videos you put out :D I hope that fixture has now a permanent short that will burn out any new bulbs within a day :p

#48 Wmacky

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 01:44 PM

There's really no winning. It's their yard, and even if you get an agreement your never know when it might be flipped back on. A war with your neighbors isn't a good way to live either. And what if they sell to others?

At this point I feel it's better to have all the control. The soulution is to move where there are no, and can never be ANY neighbors, or completely block off your yard from the neighborhood.

After agreeg to turn off their "4x4 mounted" street light whenever posible, it's now back on every night.

I give up!

I'm now trying to get the money up to completely wall off my yard using evergreen screening trees.

#49 darknesss

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 06:44 PM

Now give your neighbour the most powerful lightbulb you can find (to get the electric bill higher), screwed into this
http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B006GQPBCO
and keep the remote for yourself.
Or something like that since it doesn't have good reviews.

#50 Eric63

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 08:22 PM

My neighbour keeps a bright rear porch light on all night. I asked him if could cover it while I observe and he said OK. So I put a black plastic plant pot over it when I am out and remove it when I go in. So far it works great.






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