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Tips for dealing with neighbours with 'retaliatory garden lighting'

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#1 GabrielKnight

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 12:12 PM

G'Day All,

By way of background, I live in suburban Sydney and one of my neighbours has a a backyard equipped with what I like to call 'retaliatory garden lighting'. Simply put, we're talking motion sensitive spotlights that light up the place like Fort Knox in the midst of a midnight jailbreak.

More often than not, my movements in my own backyard - alongside that of the occasional low flying bat- prove sufficient in activating these monstrous spotlights and obliterating any prospect of a decent night's viewing. Not exactly the kind of thing that can be remedied with winged eyecups and/or a binoshield.

Have spoken to them about my hobby and, in response, they've cited personal safety as a reason for refusing to tone down the lights, redirect them or deactivate them altogether.

We're talking Australia here people and an extremely safe neighbourhood to boot, one in which it's not uncommon to spot late night joggers sporting naught but their mobile phone light to get in a bit of exercise in the late evenings. In the context of what's generally acceptable and/or tolerated in Aussie neighbourhoods, their 'make night into day' backyard set-up is pushing it.

I've been very tactful, diplomatic and patient in querying whether they can reconsider their garden lighting requirements - albeit to no avail.

Any tips on what else can be done before I consider legal options (e.g. researching nuisance laws)?

Regards,

G.K.
 

#2 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 12:27 PM

Buy them off?


 

#3 Jeff Lee

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 12:32 PM

Just have a lawyer write a complex letter about nuisance laws and indicate that it would be much better if the two parties could work this out, out of court.


 

#4 Gipht

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 12:41 PM

Start practicing the harmonica in your back yard.


 

#5 Barlowbill

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 12:57 PM

Bagpipes


 

#6 alstarjoey

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:02 PM

Start inviting people over to view the stars including your neighbors.

Look at objects that when the lights turn on, they wash out the view through the telescope.

Hopefully education will help and a schedule can be worked out so you can view in peace.

Who knows, maybe your neighbor may get interested in astronomy


 

#7 GabrielKnight

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:30 PM

Alstarjoey,

I have tried that approach - albeit to no avail. Suffice it to say that some folk are humbled, awed and inspired by seeing celestial objects up close. Others are inclined to mumble a curt 'MEH' and head straight back inside to resume watching their mind numbing late night television programs.

That said, they do have two university aged children whom I've scarcely spoken to because, much like their parents, they're obnoxious little poops. Might consider lending them a pair of binoculars with the recommendation that they give the night sky a try. It's better than nothing.

Failing that, I'll look into nuisance laws. I think it's fair to say that their motion sensitive spotlights are a source of 'light trespass, a little known tort that serves to hinder another's fair and reasonable enjoyment of their own property (e.g. by hindering sleep and/or privacy).

Actually, the simplest measure would be calling the local council and querying their by-laws on light pollution.

Will see tomorrow.

Regards,

G.K.
 

#8 bridgman

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:31 PM

Light pollution is being re-cast (quite creatively IMO) as "light trespass".

 

People seem quite happy to trample over their neighbors rights when it comes to hobbies or even ability to enjoy their property, but when re-cast as a health issue (interference with sleep etc...) it is sometimes able to get more traction with local governments.

 

I don't have specific advice, unfortunately (I moved out of the city instead) but key message is that while everyone agrees that your neighbors can do what they want within their property lines, once the light (sound, whatever) crosses property lines perception & presentation become very important. 

 

Is there a fence between your yard and the neighbors that would allow low-mounted lights to come on without interfering with you so much ? If nothing else it would block the motion sensors and stop movement in your yard from triggering lights in their yard. 


 

#9 Cestus

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:37 PM

You have tried to do it nicely. If possible you can simply beg them to let up out of kindness. If that doesn't work then set up your own motion sensors that play Gregorian chant loudly when triggered. Tell them it's for safety reasons. Offer to exchange prisoners, you stop if they stop.


 

#10 dd61999

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:47 PM

Be careful, if they catch wind you put them in legal trouble. You might face years of aminosity and revenge.

 

I have seen my two neighbors spend thousands of dollars in lawyers, fines, courts, etc...over the past few years. Over everything and anything 


 

#11 EverlastingSky

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:50 PM

Without knowing the layout of your garden or of the neighbors... I would "simply" try blocking the motion sensing areas with a temporary barrier. Plastic corrugated cardboard (Google the brand names Coroplast or Plaskolite to see what it is) mounted on poles stuck in the lawn or fit into pipe sockets installed in the lawn.

 

Sheets of paper cardboard primed and painted flat mat black which are installed prior to an observing session and taken down the next morning. Or even a clothes line along which large black tarps are "pulled closed" like giant curtains each viewing evening. No one sees them during the day etc,.  all kinds of elegant solutions are possible. Waste of time speaking to neighbors unless your all star legal team can buy them out or attack somehow grin.gif  


 

#12 Rich V.

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:50 PM

Many of these "motion detector" lights have a sensitivity adjustment so the local cat or other pet won't trigger them.  Perhaps you can convince them to turn it down so your movements in your own yard don't trigger them.  That's easy enough and perhaps will make sense to them.


 

#13 GabrielKnight

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:57 PM

Hi Bridgman,

For some obscure reason, my neighbours spotlights are mounted quite high - being the first floor. Despite having the tallest allowable fence under local council regulations, the height is insufficient to prevent motion on my side from triggering the sensors. Despite multiple requests, they have refused to change the angle of the spotlights such that the motion sensors aren't partially directed to a sizable portion of my property (inc. driveway, garage and my beloved outdoor wood fired pizza entertainment area).

Hmmm ... perhaps I should host a few raucous backyard cook-outs in the late evening and then thank them for having helped to reduce my own lighting expenses.

Cheers,

G.K.

PS: In Australia, the first floor is regarded as the one above the ground floor.
 

#14 skip erickson

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 01:58 PM

You might try fighting fire with fire.....a number of years ago in Virginia, the glare of a streetlight obliterated much of the southern sky from my backyard. I mounted a large flashlight to a tripod and focused the beam on the photocell for the streetlight. It usually took 3 to 5 minutes, but eventually the streetlight would turn off thinking the sun was coming up. A set of four D cells was the "cost of doing business" for about every hour of observing.  I'd wager that your neighbor's lights also have some form of "daylight" sensors....using a focusable LED light on a mount pointed at the offending devices, you can retaliate with your own light pollution. Proabaly cheaper than a lawyer.......

 

Cheers,

 

Skip


 

#15 GabrielKnight

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 02:11 PM

Skip Erickson,

Thank you for that!! Given that I work for a defence contractor, it'll be no problem at all sourcing a tactical flashlight (a 'thrower') with a fixed focus beam of 600m or more and over 2000 lumens of power.

I'm genuinely curious as to whether shining a beam directly onto the sensors will 'fool' the spotlight into thinking that it's daytime such that it deactivates.

Will give it a go this week. Either way, their routine activation does a real number on my night vision and I'd much rather that they do not activate at all but, as a short term solution, your suggestion carries a lot of merit.

Cheers,

G.K.
 

#16 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 02:15 PM

Build a barrier around your scope of  dark colored tarps on PVC frames.  Make a semi circle of them about 7 feet high and fairly close to the telescope.  That will block lights that are fairly high up, and also block wind.  That's what I did before I got the Exploradome.


 

#17 Joe1950

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 02:22 PM

Same here but no motion sensors... constantly on. They are pointed straight outward and my front yard is awash with light. That’s where I have to observe. 

 

I thought light ingress was not permitted. But I don’t know if it’s an open and shut matter or a very complicated one. The lights are literally blinding. They are also right in my face when pulling the car into the driveway. And that is a safety hazard.

 

Unlike others, I won’t ask them anything other than to point them down. And I doubt I’ll do that. Asking to turn them off or something, one of the residents might trip in the dark, get injured and point the blame on me. Anything is possible where people and a quick payday are concerned.

 

So, I have a metal structure that is about 16’ wide and 8’ high. It was part of an outdoor car canopy. It pivots in the middle and will stand on its own. 

 

I’ll get a tarp or two and set it up so I can easily deploy it and easily fold it up. It will stay outside. If they get the message, fine, if not, also fine. Unless you are good friends with a neighbor and can trust them, I personally would make no requests. You are then beholding to them and if something does go wrong, look out.

 

Just the way I feel about it. Don’t know about Australia, but where I live we have a SUEsociety.


 

#18 Yarddog

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 02:29 PM

It is hard to know without being there but it is probably best to just live with it and be really nice to him.

 

I am a good neighbor but for nearly 25 years I had a great neighbor. He was so good that he never refused to help me and often helped me out of the blue.

 

I always wanted to repay him but he had so many close relatives that he never needed to call on me. Unfortunately he is now deceased and his Son just keeps the house as a vacation house.

 

Some people are so hard headed there is nothing you can do but honey really does draw more flies than vinegar.


 

#19 GabrielKnight

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 02:43 PM

Joe1950,

I truly am sorry to hear of your situation which, by any sane person's reasoning, is much worse than mine.

Relative to the US, Australia isn't an insanely litigious society and I like to think that folk adopt a more pragmatic approach in seeking to sort out their differences. That said, I'm wary of how rapidly a neighborly dispute can escalate and will take every available measure to ensure that lawyers are kept out of the equation.

Indeed, most Australian states and territories explicitly provide for free government assistance in the mediation of neighborhood disputes and one would hope these to be successful in the majority of circumstances.

Cheers,

G.K.
 

#20 skip erickson

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 03:05 PM

G.K.

 

If you do try the tactical lights, please let me know how they worked both technically and "socially."  Even if they don’t shut down the lights, it strikes me that any complaint they level at you about spot beams on their house can be thrown right back at them. 

Cheers,

 

Skip


 

#21 Joe1950

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 03:07 PM

Thank you, Gabriel.  My area is very poor for astronomy to begin with. I can only observe the moon and planets and maybe a few doubles.

 

From what you say, Australia has quite a different approach to disputes. I best not say more. 

 

It could and should be something that can be remedied to the satisfaction of both parties without lingering resentments. Unfortunately it’s not always the way things go.

 

I guess each of us has to approach it as we feel best under our particular circumstances.

 

I hope you can resolve the issue and enjoy astronomy to the fullest!

joe


 

#22 GabrielKnight

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 03:27 PM

Skip Erickson,

A little bit of Aussie trivia for your amusement!!

The following is an extract from the (NSW) Weapons Prohibitions Act 1997 (No. 127).

- - -
"(24) Any acoustic or light-emitting anti-personnel device that is designed to cause permanent or temporary incapacity or to otherwise disorientate persons."
- - -

As some of you are likely aware, Australia has exceptionally strict gun laws. The same is true of knives (i.e. a 58mm Swiss Army Knife keychain would be deemed a 'prohibited weapon' if carried in public) and apparently very bright flashlights. ;-p

Truth be told, I have reservations about just how strictly the 'torch' prohibition is enforced. Possession of a tactical flashlight with a strobe function meant to disorient would-be attackers might present a problem, but in practice these are in common usage amongst hikers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts absent any real concern on the part of law enforcement.

The younger me, an avid camper, owned several. Something tells me my own father's legendary 'Dad drawer' - one replete with outdated/obsolete mobile phones, wires, chargers, batteries, floppy disks, tape drives and even the odd Palm Pilot - likely harbours more than a few.

That said, I may need to exercise a degree of caution in shining one directly onto a spotlight mounted less than half a metre away from my neighbour's teenage daughter's bedroom.

Regards,

G.K.
 

#23 Yarddog

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 03:45 PM

I am glad I live in Florida where carry laws are shall issue for permits. You don't even need a permit for most items. There are still occasional odd regulations. I once looked up the statutes and one thing prohibited was "Buck Knives". I am sure that has been changed.

 

My Daughter lives in Oklahoma. Beginning in November their law is simple Constitutional Carry. No permit required for open or concealed carry. I just gave my Son-in-Law a .40 cal. S&W.


 

#24 Foss

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 03:51 PM

What about mounting a phalanx of brilliant lights aimed into the neighbor's windows, that are activated by ..... wait for it....their own floodlights.


 

#25 Rich V.

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 04:09 PM

What about mounting a phalanx of brilliant lights aimed into the neighbor's windows, that are activated by ..... wait for it....their own floodlights.

lol.gif   This could work; there are photoelectric switches that provide both normally open and normally closed contacts so they turn on either by darkness or light.   mrevil.gif


 


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