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Stargazing in L.A. County? Dark Skies Ordinance to Outlaw 'Light Pollution' in Rural Areas

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Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Hollywood Boulevard's about to get some country-bumpkin competition. - SIGHTSEEINGWORLD.COM
  • sightseeingworld.com
  • Hollywood Boulevard's about to get some country-bumpkin competition.
Just because we live in the biggest, brightest county on the West Coast -- famous for its neon signage, supergraphic billboards and helicopter searchlights -- doesn't mean we can't fight for our right to stargaze.

By the beginning of next year, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors is expected to pass the Dark Skies Ordinance, proposed in 2008 and given its final blessing by the Regional Planning Commission last week.

It adds outdoor lighting to a long list of neighborhood unpleasantries...

... that various homeowners associations in L.A.'s outlying hills and valleys (where the Sunset Strip rats go to enjoy their golden years in peace) have targeted and tackled. All-night ragers. Noisy air traffic. Tourists on a destructive mission to take a photo by the Hollywood sign.

And now, as the new ordinance calls it, "light pollution"!

The curfew for all outdoor lighting would be a strict 10 p.m. Lights would have to remain shut off until dawn -- with the exception of one doorway bulb and 10-minute motion censors. (Businesses open past 10 p.m. would be given a little leeway: one hour after closing until lights-out.)

The ordinance also lists pages upon pages of technical regulations, including types of bulbs, shades and shields that will have to be installed to create premium stargazing conditions. Residents are left to interpret rules like this:

B. Light trespass. Outdoor lighting shall not cause light trespass. The following is considered light trespass:

1. Over 0.5 foot-candles where the zoning on the adjacent parcel is a residential, open space, or agricultural zone, or public right-of-way; or

2. Over 1.0 foot-candles where the zoning on the adjacent parcel is any other zone besides residential, open space or agricultural

Starting to feel a bit smothered here -- SoCal's little dominos on the hillside are Big Brothered enough as is. But if this works, there could be a major upside: Maybe we won't have to shlep like three hours into the boonies next time a big burning ball of fire passes overhead.

"Darkness just speaks of tranquility," a Cold Creek resident gushes to the LA Daily News. "It just feels protective and calming."

By early 2012, the rest of you ravers better learn to love the same.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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