Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dark skies and Wildomar City Council Elections

In the Nov. 2010 election, Wildomar will elect three council members. I have sent each of the six candidates for city council the following question (see answers):
I would like to know your view on protecting a part of our community's rural nature, that is a fairly dark nighttime sky. Like Temecula and Murrieta, Wildomar has adopted a light pollution ordinance. Much development in Temecula and Murrieta shows that these communities have forgotten to enforce their lighting ordinance. Wildomar is beginning to slip in the same direction with the new developments along Clinton Keith as well as with retrofits to some churches and community group buildings. I believe a dark sky is a rural quality that can be preserved while we still develop economically. I would like to know if you see the issue as I do, and if so how you would protect our night sky.
Below are examples of what I'm refering to. Each of these photos shows lighting installed after Wildomar's incorporation, and each is in violation of Riverside County ordinance 655 and Wildomar's ordinance 8.80. I cite both ordinances because some of these developments would have been approved by Riverside County before incorporation.

Unshielded white light used for Class II application (supposed to be low-pressure sodium and any use of white light must have full cut off shielding)

Unshielded white light on building and white light used for parking lot.
Liberal use of unshielded white decorative lights.
Class II lights should be low-pressure sodium. The main structures on this property use unshielded white light floodlights (not shown)

As with any open-book test, my question gives away what I think is a correct answer. My goal is not to expose a candidate for a view I would find contrary, but rather, to invite candidates to consider, if they haven't before, the value of a dark sky as part of the community they love and wish to serve, and that there will be challenges and opportunities. I do not expect violations of the lighting ordinance to get the same treatment as violations to health and safety. Nor do I wish an antagonizing relationship with any business that is in violation. But I do consider the beauty of our night a quality of life issue, a trace element that cannot be forgotten, and I think it should be a matter of pride, a symbol of support for the community, for a business to comply with all of their community's policies.

I will be summarizing and sharing my responses from the candidates in a follow-up to this post.


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