Sunday, October 10, 2010

Candidates for Wildomar City Council on Light Pollution

I've asked the candidates for Wildomar City Council to comment on light pollution (see part 1). In my offer, I asked to print what they said or offered to summarize their views. Some accepted my offer to summarize. Others provided quotable prose. I intend no bias in either form of comment, just an acknowledgement that in my summaries, I may have erred and will make corrections. I also put the candidates comments or summaries in an arbitrary order. No bias in sequence is intended.

This project started with a promise to myself to meet each candidate. After getting my first response, which was a pleasant experience, I realized I might be doing a service to the community by capturing and sharing all of the candidates' views.

Though this post is an opportunity to put candidates on record, the real benefit is that these candidates have done the cause of protecting the night sky a great service. They all believe a starry night is a part of Wildomar that they wish to protect.

Ben Benoit (my summary based on a telephone conversation):
I learned that Ben and I both own the same type of telescope. His scope and that he complimented me on the recent astronomy night in the park suggested a genuine interest in astronomy, and therefore, an appreciation for protecting the night sky. He doesn't see dark skies protection as an impediment to commercial growth, but it may not be reasonable to correct via punitive measures lighting that, though in violation, was given an approval by the appropriate agency, such as County before incorporation, and City, after. As I relayed examples of newly constructed facilities that are in violation of our lighting ordinance, he offered to examine whether these new projects were given approval by the County or City Planning Department.  
Sheryl Ade:
I think dark skies/bright stars one of the hallmark lifestyle elements of Wildomar.

I can tell you that I've worked and lobbied over the last year to bring in a new Planning Director for Wildomar. We now have a new Planning Director - Matt Bassi. I will be meeting with him this week to discuss a number of things "Wildomar" and will bring up the importance of the light pollution ordinance. We also have a new public works director, Tim D'Zmura and a new City Engineer, Steve Palmer. All have excellent qualifications and will, I believe, add value to our City planning, development and building processes. I will make sure they all understand that the light pollution ordinance is of significance to our community and give them some background (as well as your webpage).

I'll request that they look at the issues you mention in your email as well as direct them to contact you regarding the Clinton Keith lighting issues.
Tim Walker:
I agree with you that we need to keep our sky as dark as possible. I remember when I first came here in 1979. I purchased my property and was amazed at how many stars there were. Coming from inner-city LA we had no chance to see the beauty that was up there.
The lights of the cities of Temecula and Murrieta drive me crazy. I do want our town to keep light pollution under control. The developer's that will be coming to our city will need to address this in their plans. I'm not sure exactly where the city stands on this. I will try to find out and make sure that all of our concerns are heard.
The business owners that are here now cannot be forced to change their lights if they have been approved before building. I had to place shields on our lights when I had my first company here. The county was very concerned about the Palomar Mountain Observatory. That was 20 years ago and you can see that they let us all down.
Hopefully we can maintain our beautiful skies for our children and  grandchildren.
Marsha Swanson:
I am totally in favor of saving our night sky.  I have lived here for 36 years and the night sky was the first thing I noticed when we moved in.  I also really appreciate the time and information you give to our kids at the park.
Martha Bridges (summarized based on conversation and correspondence):

Martha has shared with me on a couple occasions that she feels we need to protect our night sky. She says that city councils and planning departments in the valley need to be proactive in protecting our sky with strict enforcement of codes, and careful monitoring of what developers and individuals choose for outdoor lighting.  Martha sees a need for balancing the protection of our environment against the drive for commercial development she sees being advocated by most of the other Wildomar Council candidates. Martha also describes herself as an active environmentalist and sees the night sky as part the environment she wishes to protect. Most notably, she has offered to help me in addressing current violations of our lighting ordinance regardless of the outcome of the city council election.
 Kristan Lloyd (Added 12 Oct 2010):

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this issue.
I believe that dark skies are an important feature of our community's rural nature and it's disconcerting that community members have noticed that enforcement of our lighting ordinance falling by the wayside.
Wildomar is very fortunate to have informed and dedicated community members that are passionate about preserving our community for future generations. I would like to see the city council making all efforts to include more of the wealth of knowledge that individuals have to offer with a community committee that addresses issues such as this one.
I have recently read several articles regarding dark skies and its ability to engage our special needs children as well as keeping us in touch with something that is bigger than ourselves. These articles referred to out in nature camping experiences but with our busy schedules we should be able to walk out into our own backyard and see our skies without a haze of light pollution.

Safety is always brought up as an issue but studies have shown that outdoor security lighting does not reduce crime and uses approximately 800 pounds of coal each year per light.
I am very interested in learning more about the alternatives that are available that will put safety first and foremost for the community while also keeping light pollution down so we can all experience a rural night sky. These options need to be brought forth to the city council, staff and planning commission so that future projects not only meet the current ordinance but take advantage of all possibilities available to protect our night skies.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Ben Benoit: It's also the case that Ben's campaign manager was a former telescope operator for the famed Griffith Observatory.