Laguna Beach might not be such a bright place to live come February 1, 2012. And for some disgruntled neighbors, that might be a very good thing.
In what the Laguna Beach city council is calling the Good Neighbor Lighting Ordinance, those with outdoor lights must aim their lights downward or cover them, per dark sky lighting rules. The goal is to prevent one person’s lights from shining directly onto or into another person’s property, which could affect the spotlighted person’s ability to sleep, watch television, or just otherwise annoy them.
The new lighting ordinance passed by a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Toni Iseman and Councilwomen Jane Egly and Verna Rollinger voting yea with Councilwomen Elizabeth Pearson and Kelly Boyd voting nay. It will take exception to special holidays, such as Valentine’s day, Halloween, Christmas, and the Forth of July. Also not affected will be lights pertaining to sports fields, public art, historic buildings, street lights, and police-approved crime prevention lights.
Between now and the law’s effective date, the city will be conducting an information campaign. The printed brochures offer Laguna Beach residents advice on what they can do if a neighbor is lighting their home up like a Christmas tree and interfering with their quality of life.
Councilwoman Boyd questioned whether this would be yet another ordinance that pitted neighbors against one another and pointed out that only two citizens had actually come forward to support the ordinance. To no avail, she suggested a preliminary trail so that the council could determine how the public would respond to a lighting ordinance.
Councilwoman Pearson also voiced concerns about passing the lighting ordinance, pointing out the unknowns on how it would affect businesses like the coastline hotel resorts. She concurred with Ms. Boyd’s suggestion to see how the public feels about a lightening ordinance before making it law.
Mayor Toni Iseman, who voted yea, recalled a past citizen complaint that involved a light blasting into a neighbors bedroom and causing “tremendous pain.” The mayor and Councilwoman Rollinger viewed the ordinance as a standard for lighting that would be end existing disputes and and avoid future disputes.