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Your County might have a light pollution ordinance....already.

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#1 vsteblina

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:01 PM

I pay attention to local politics and particularly issues like light trespass, etc.  But I completely missed this one!!!

 

Chelan County just started requiring that all short-term rentals apply for a county permit.  One of the requirements was that applicants review CURRENT local codes for compliance with signing, etc. 

 

There hidden in plain sight under Section 11.88.080 Light and Glare.....

 

11.88.080 Light and glare.

 

Parking lot lights, security lights, or any exterior lighting shall be low-intensity, nonflashing and designed to project toward the property or shall be shielded to keep light from directly projecting over property lines. (Res. 2020-68 (Exh. B) (part), 6/16/20: Res. 2007-98 (part), 7/2/07: Res. 2001-60 (part), 4/17/01: Res. 2000-129 (part), 10/17/00).

 

I spoke to a county planner and was told that, yes that check list is given to developers, but they did NOT check for compliance.

 

I pointed out that the last two subdivisions built around my house ALL were build with non-compliant lighting.  Fair enough, I asked that they add a sentence that IDA certified light fixtures meet Chelan County's Light and Glare code requirements to the developers check list.

 

The answer was NO.  There is a complaint procedure, that is not taken seriously by the planning department.

 

So there is a CODE that is not enforced.  Probably similar to other communities throughout the nation. 

 

The question is where to go from here?? 

 

She suggested contacting Home Depot, Lowes and asking them to put up a sign stating that ONLY IDA certified fixtures meet Chelan County code. 

 

Does anybody have any other ideas on how to proceed??  I thought of making a public issue by filing a complaint AGAINST THE COUNTY and their lighting practices and get media coverage that way. 

 

The trick is to get the code enforced, without having it repealed in the backlash.

 

 



#2 Dobs O Fun

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:06 PM

The strongest way is to start with an attorney. That will get their attention.

#3 chanrobi

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:22 PM

If it's already codified in law, surely must be fairly simple to get this enforced?



#4 Dobs O Fun

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:43 PM

What I am meaning is that as you have well seen that not all codes and rules are enforced until something occurs on a scale to bring the right attention. It seems LP is more of a nuisance that bothers a dew than many.

An attorney can get attention without a court case, along with sufficient data supplied to a level of govt that perhaps one can do individually.

#5 barbarosa

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 02:27 PM

In general private citizens do not have the standing to compel enforcement of state and local laws and regulations.  The cases that we read about in the news typically involve a law or regulation that has a provision for private suits and recovery of costs.

 

The basis for this oddity is the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The king is immune to law suits from his subjects. We got rid of the king but we kept that legal doctrine. 

 

 

 

City and county legal staff are not awed by letters from other lawyers.


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#6 vsteblina

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 03:07 PM

Not sure the lawyer route wins friends.

 

Still searching for other ideas.

 

One thing I REALLY like about the CODE....it is a simple one line statement. I would just add one more sentence that IDA certified fixtures meet the code.

 

It comes at the issue from a light trespass issue which is important in a libertarian and conservative county.  One addition that would be helpful would be to define low intensity as a maximum number of lumens.


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#7 George N

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 09:08 AM

.......

So there is a CODE that is not enforced.  Probably similar to other communities throughout the nation. 

 

......

 

Enforcement - the 2nd big hurtle in anti-LP laws!

 

New York State has an anti-LP law of sorts (only applies to lights the State pays for) - and it took 3 try's and over 10 years to get it passed. There were several issues - but "enforcement" - specifically paying for it - was one of them. One of the 'negatives' applied to the first attempt was - it had no enforcement mechanism. The second attempt was 'pocket vetoed' - with the Governor mentioning that it passed 'enforcement' onto local government without providing any funds for the same. With the third attempt - it passed partly because it only applied to the State itself - leaving the State to check on itself.  << One of the other founderings - NYC objects to anything the involves State regulation of their street lighting - and remember, if NYC were a nation-state, it would be bigger budget-wise than most in the UN! >>

 

The next township over from my rural one - is 'upscale' with two small cities, etc. It has a very good well-written anti-LP regulation -- except it specifically exempts the town gov't itself from compliance! They have shown no interest in complying in spirit - resulting it two friends finding just-awful 'attractive' LED streetlights sprouting up right in front of their homes. Another issue was - one school leaving its athletic field lights on 24/7. We asked why..... and they said "Because the lights on the field fosters pride in the local school." -- it appears to be true, because the local "football heros" went nuts about any discussion of turning them off except for actual night games.

 

The County's township with the bulk of the current retail boom and other economic development -- had little interest in what color their new LED streetlights would be. In fact their town highway engineer went so far as to state in a town board meeting that the AMA was 'wrong' about the health issues with blue lights. The town board voted with the engineer, not the astronomers. At least they do have a regulation banning those blinking LED "movie signs" - but because they distract drivers, not for LP concerns.

 

On the other hand -- most (all now?) New England states have some form of anti-LP law. Compliance & enforcement must be an issue, because the "lighting engineering center" at the college I went to pushes a 'service' they offer on what is needed to comply with those laws - and it is supposedly popular.


Edited by George N, 18 October 2021 - 09:11 AM.


#8 RLK1

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 11:36 AM

Enforcement of the Pima county/Tucson ordinance, arguably the most stringent in the country, is, like most, complaint driven. Like ROLD (Rural Outdoor Lighting Ordinance) in Los Angeles county, the largest county in the the USA, building inspectors are charged with enforcement, but unlike Tucson, it takes seemingly forever for them to act. Tucson's ordinance can be acted upon aggressively within as little as three days since the city has on-call building inspectors that rotate on a 24/7 basis who deal with issues like monsoons, fires, and, upon request, enforcement of the light pollution ordinance. I've provided an example of quick action on their part in one or two of the previous threads in this forum wherein a new apartment complex installed non-compliant lighting and had to redo all of it to meet code. Again, somebody has to initiate a complaint but once that happens, corrective action can occur quite efficiently. If they can do it, other cities and counties can do it as well. During my discussions of the Tucson lighting ordinance with a city official, it was noted that a local air force base public relations officer will call the city if they see lighting projecting up into the sky. A professional astronomer opinionated the latter probably occurs because the extraneous lighting interferes with their infrared detections. But, all it takes is a call from a citizen to get the ball rolling and, as per a conversation I had with their building and safety department, the city of Tucson acts upon two or more complaints per month.   



#9 DSOGabe

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 03:39 PM

I would say most do have some kind of ordinance. The issue is getting the city/town/county to actually enforce it. I've called to submit complaints and nothing gets done.



#10 RLK1

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 06:36 PM

I would say most do have some kind of ordinance. The issue is getting the city/town/county to actually enforce it. I've called to submit complaints and nothing gets done.

I had to make several calls to the building inspector's office in my area before an inspector actually came to my house, looked out from my upstairs bedroom window and subsequently required the homeowner directly across from me to squelch his arc light that lit up the neighborhood.  What I'm saying is that if you're going to make the call, be prepared to make several calls until action occurs. Get the person's name at the county office that you spoke to and continue to call that person until action occurs. I'm not saying it'll work in every case but persistence can make a difference.



#11 RLK1

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 06:47 PM

I had to make several calls to the building inspector's office in my area before an inspector actually came to my house, looked out from my upstairs bedroom window and subsequently required the homeowner directly across from me to squelch his arc light that lit up the neighborhood.  What I'm saying is that if you're going to make the call, be prepared to make several calls until action occurs. Get the person's name at the county office that you spoke to and continue to call that person until action occurs. I'm not saying it'll work in every case but persistence can make a difference.

I'd add to the above that I had to wait until the LA county office approved the overtime for the inspector to come out at night in order to view and assess the problem. Tucson, on the other hand, has inspectors on-call for 24/7 service so that's not an issue for that particular city. 



#12 BYoesle

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Posted 01 November 2021 - 11:50 AM

There hidden in plain sight under Section 11.88.080 Light and Glare.....

 

11.88.080 Light and glare.

 

Parking lot lights, security lights, or any exterior lighting shall be low-intensity, nonflashing and designed to project toward the property or shall be shielded to keep light from directly projecting over property lines. (Res. 2020-68 (Exh. B) (part), 6/16/20: Res. 2007-98 (part), 7/2/07: Res. 2001-60 (part), 4/17/01: Res. 2000-129 (part), 10/17/00)...  
I pointed out that the last two subdivisions built around my house ALL were build with non-compliant lighting... So there is a CODE that is not enforced.  Probably similar to other communities throughout the nation.

 

The question is where to go from here??

 

It might be possible to sue a municipality for non-enforcement of an ordinance via a writ of mandamus. But in order to prevail in such a suit, one would have to have legal standing to bring such a suit. The example the OP cites and quoted above seems to give this standing to individual property owners who are directly impacted by light projecting over a property line. This seems to apply in your situation, so it would be worth exploring to see if you have such standing, even if you are not directly adjacent to the subdivisions.

 

On the other hand, communities that have ordinances with provisions to specifically limit light pollution and/or sky-glow in general would appear to give anyone who lives in the affected community standing to bring a writ of mandamus for the lack of code enforcement.


Edited by BYoesle, 01 November 2021 - 12:15 PM.



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