Lumens is the new word in Shady Cove

Operation Dark Sky marches on. No, this isn’t an AP story out of Washington, but an update on the progress of the Dark Sky Ordinance being penned and proposed by the Shady Cove Planning Commission.  The commission met on Sept. 9th to give the edited proposed ordinance one more review before presenting it to the City Council at the October 7th study session. As in the previous reviews there were miscellaneous typos to correct in addition to a couple of major clarification points and general points of concern.

The first major point of clarification was relatively easily resolved. The commission wants to assure the ordinance clearly states that all regulations apply to existing and new lighting. Folks will have six months to bring existing fixtures to code and all new lighting must be installed per the ordinance.

Perhaps the larger “pain point” was that of defining and clarifying standards. First; the standards have not yet been set. Field tests performed by commissioners and city employees armed with a light meter will need to be performed before “what is too bright” can be determined. Data from existing similar ordinances from other cities will also be factored in. Second; once limits have been determined the ordinance will need to state light limits in lumens vs. watts. This delineation continues to prove somewhat confusing even for some commissioners and all involved want the ordinance to be as clear as possible for the citizens.

So – what are the definitions and why lumens vs. watts?

Lumen (light output): Perceived light from a source – i.e. light bulb.
Watt (energy used): Amount of power produced from a light source – i.e. light bulb
·    A 40 watt incandescent bulb produces a light (quality) of about 400-500 lumens
·    A 7 watt  fluorescent lamp will produce exactly the same value of lumens, 400-500

So – to create a fair ordinance, measuring lumens is the way to go. All light bulb packages clearly list the lumens and the watts on the packaging, so complying with the ordinance – if and when it passes – will be as simple as installing new bulbs or shielding bulbs which produce lumens above the allowed amount. For enforcement the lumens will be measured from the property line.

The final worry for the commissioners was that of public opinion. Many hours of meetings have gone into the drafting of Operation Dark Sky and many more will follow. However word is now coming to the Planning Commission that citizens aren’t exactly jumping for joy over the thought of new regulations. Still the commission trudges on with the hopes that if they can reach their goal of making the ordinance as simple to read, understand and follow as possible citizens will see it as light at the end of the tunnel and climb on the Dark Sky train.
By Christy Pitto
Of The Independent

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