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San Clemente Wants You to See More Stars

An upcoming Planning Commission study session will provide an introduction to the Dark Skies initiative to reduce light pollution and save energy.

If you’re interested in learning about Dark Skies, we’ll be having an introductory presentation at our next planning commission study session 6 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council Chambers, 100 Avenida Presidio. This is an open meeting and anyone is welcome to attend.

Dark Skies is a global movement focused on reducing the amount of light pollution that communities produce. Many municipalities have implemented or are planning to implement Dark Skies measures.

San Clemente’s next General Plan--a package of zoning and land use ordinaces that will set the course of development for years--will include policies that reduce our light pollution to take advantage of our unique location to return our night skies to a more natural state.

The goals of Dark Skies are to:

  • Bring out the natural beauty of the night sky
  • Reduce energy waste
  • Decrease municipal expenses
  • Increase health and safety
  • Improve the natural environment for our ocean and open spaces.

Planning commission study sessions are informal public meetings used to educate the planning commission and other citizens on new initiatives, the progress of existing programs, and other city concerns. They are usually held before the regular planning commission meeting.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ian Dyer January 17, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Jim-Please register my opposition to this measure with the Planning Commission. I agree with Mr. Salty's comments above. It is unrealistic at this point. San Clemente is a suburban area and sufficient lighting is necessary to prevent crime. Dark skies & sufficient lighting are incompatible. Realistically, to get dark skies you need to go to a more rural area. This "Dark Skies" initiative will simply result in unhelpful government regulations on businesses & residences. I've been thinking about this since I first read about the movement, long before San Clemente considered it. I love dark skies and stars. But, I oppose increasing government regulation to try to create it, particularly in suburban/urban areas where it's impossible at this point. So, register my strong opposition.
Jim Ruehlin January 17, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Hi Ian, Thanks for your comments, I'll bear them in mind. To be clear, this is just a Study Session, not a regular Planning Commission meeting. Study Sessions are informal educational meetings designed to inform the Planning Commission and the public on current and upcoming issues. There will be no decisions made about lighting issues. We're doing a Study Session on this subject because the General Plan Advisory Committee has advocated reducing light pollution in San Clemente. We'll be seeing goals, policies, and implementation instructions regarding this in the General Plan, which the Planning Commission and City Council need to approve. You're welcome to provide your comments to both bodies at any time, and there will be PC and CC meetings that consider approving these areas where you can comment as well. If you come to the Study Session, I think you'll find that starting to implement darker skies is easier and less expensive than you might think. And there are cost savings that businesses, residences, and the city will gain that will surpass any added expense. I hope to see you there.
Mr Salty January 18, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Mr Ruehlin, Anyone who has been paying attention knows that you are a stargazer. That's a nice, if somewhat sedate hobby. However, from where I sit, it somehow seems to be the reason you got yourself appointed to the planning commission. Reducing light pollution and saving energy are great goals but unless we have a major catastrophe and lose our power grid we will never have Dark Skies. Your comment regarding other communities implementation of Dark Skies measures is laughable and typical of a budding politician. The Los Angeles county plans are restricted to rural areas only. In Riverside county, the ordinance covers only unincorporated areas. In typical Laguna Beach fashion, if you find your neighbors lights too bright, you simply walk over and ask then to change it. After nearly 30 years in town, I prefer avoid any city meetings and remain behind the scenes but you can always find me. I'm the guy with the porchlight on at night.
Art Feierman February 06, 2013 at 02:35 AM
To mister salty, Porch lights are fine Just make sure that all the light goes down, not up. I'm curious, do you leave it on all night? Are you running LED or compact fluorescents, or good old coal burning incandescents? Do you object to darker skys, if the end result is money is saved, and crime goes down? I'm not sure how the crime part works, But that 60 watt light going all night on your porch is probably costing you $50 a year. So, are your warding off crime with it?
PK December 12, 2013 at 07:32 AM
I gotta say if you have some terribly bright light right across the street from you, so bright you have to squint to look that direction, there is a problem. It's not fair that I have to lose sleep, and have to actually squint to look into the direction of this particular light that was put in when they built the condos across the street from us. Now seriously this florescent double 4 foot long light disrupts my sleep, and takes out every single star that I used to be able to see over the Ocean. So to all you people all in a frenzy about "safety" and how there will be impending crime wave if there aren't lights burning bright everywhere need to get an alarm and system, and maybe even a guard dog or something. How about if I shine a giant spotlight right at your house? See how much you like it, see how much sleep you'll get. But hey at least your house will be illuminated like Vegas and all the bad guys won't have a chance right? Light pollution, just like noise pollution affects quality of life. Before these condo's went in across the street we could actually see stars over the ocean. Now you look that direction, and there is no Ocean -and not even one star. Just a annoying glow of white florescent light that keep everyone up all night. Nice job keeping everyone "safe" from the boogie man!


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