Council gets intro to new light fixtures

The Sequim City Council heard an appeal Monday morning to require a new generation of light fixtures in future residential developments to preserve the city's night skies.

Two proposed changes to the city code popularly known as a "dark skies ordinance" that would require the new fixtures will come before the council at its Sept. 8 meeting.

"Please, before it's too late and our stars are but a memory," said urban growth area resident Pat Clark.

He's been concerned about "light trespassing" from the traditional "Nevada-style" streetlights since 2005, Clark said.

They are a hazard to health, contribute to car wrecks because of the glare and contribute to a loss of stars and shine unwanted light onto people's property, he said.

Now it's three years later and the city still requires Nevada-style lights in developments, Clark said.

Associate planner Joe Irvin said the one of the new "Eurotech Full Cutoff" light fixtures that directs more light downward was installed July 31 at the southeast corner of Happy View Lane and South Seventh Street.

The current city ordinance requires residential developments to use the Nevada-style light fixtures that allow more of the light to project upward and outward.

Irvin said the proposed changes to the city's streetscape manual and streets and utilities manual would require the new light standards.

A "rough estimate" is $2,100 for each Nevada-style light fixture and pole and $2,400 for each of the newer Eurotech fixture and pole, he said.

Irvin said he is awaiting an answer from the manufacturer regarding Mayor Laura Dubois' question about compatibility with LED lights.

"It's a great comment so I'm awaiting that answer, but it's really important right now to get that fixture in place that stops sending glow upward and outward," Irvin said.

City Councilor Walt Schubert said he was interested in whether the newer light fixtures were better or worse for providing enough lighting to reduce crime.

Interim city manager Bob Spinks said the newer light fixtures put the light where it is of most use to the police patrols.

Clark said regarding the newer light fixtures, "It's amazing. Everything that needs to be lit is lit."

Dubois said she received a letter of complaint about street lights several weeks ago. "More is not always better," she said.

Irvin said the way the resolution reads it would apply to new commercial developments as well but for now he wants to focus on new residential developments and the city's outskirts until there's enough money to switch entire commercial areas.

Creation of a "dark skies ordinance" was included in the city's 2006 comprehensive plan update.

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