Lights Out? Riverside Residents May Pay For Glaring “Trespass”

RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Riverside County supervisors voted on Tuesday to move forward with drafting a “light trespass” ordinance that could mean penalties for residents with overly bright outdoor lights.

Supervisor John Tavaglione got the idea for such an ordinance earlier this year, after a constituent complained that glaring light from a neighboring business was disrupting his sleep.

The ordinance, which would apply only to unincorporated areas of the county, will likely be introduced in the next 90 days. A public hearing is required before it can be approved by the board.

“Light trespass results in a waste of natural resources and, at certain levels, may jeopardize the health, safety or welfare of Riverside County residents,” Tavaglione wrote in the proposal for the ordinance.

He noted that the last time the board addressed the issue was in 1988, but that was mainly to regulate light fixtures emitting rays that seriously disrupted star-gazing and research at the Palomar Observatory in northern San Diego County.

“The proposed ordinance would establish a countywide standard for outdoor lighting that would generally prohibit light trespass,” Tavaglione said.

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  • Budd Sweetman

    I keep my home lit at night to discourage prowlers. I hope that if an ordinance is written that businesses using light to discourage burglars will be properly considered.

    • Joe

      I have a burglar alarm in my home. I have the .357 magnum model from Smith& Wesson. Loud but effective. No bright light in the process.

      • Gary S

        just a bright flash and a loud bang

    • vudu

      Guess the person that complained never heard of curtains. Outside lighting is necessary to discourage trespassing and if a business has a security camera, its useless if staring into a darkened parking lot or alley.

      • Tony

        have you not heard of infrared cameras? they use them ALL over the place.. not much light required

      • vudu

        Yeah we use them at work, but a company shouldnt have to dole out the extra cash for nicer cameras when a basic one would make due……. just because one person likes to sleep with their windows uncovered….. thats all im saying. Besides it was just an example.

    • Edward

      As the ordinance is currently written, you continue to be able to use whatever types of lighting (security, decorative) you wish … as long as they do not extend beyond your property. Budd, unless you want to waste your money lighting up the surrounding businesses, I think your thoughtful use of security lighting is safe.
      By the way, I also keep my home thoughtfully lit to discourage prowlers too … and I use Malibu lights to illuminate the walks to keep them safe for my intended guests to use.

  • Joe

    I wonder how many of the elected officials are committing “Light Trespass”.

  • Terry

    Another “Bright” politician amongst us!

  • Countess Ba'thory

    Eff-You Riverside Co Bored of Gov Idiots who keep trying to pull money out of our anal orafice. Any politician supporting such extortion of the public deserves public torture and slow-agonizing execution for crimes against the tax payers.

  • Alan Hart

    Must not be much to do in Riverside when the politicians have to think of ways to irritate citizens.

  • Bill Jones

    This is what happens under socialism.

  • Phil

    There is no data from any law enforcement data base that shows that street lighting or property lighting reduces residential burglary or street crime. None.

  • J Johnson

    Every city should adopt a light ordinace. My neighor has had her flood lights aimed at my house for 20 years and won’t cooperate in lowering them down. My house is lit up like Yankee Stadium at a night game from my neighbors flood lights. Also when I walk around town I’m constantly “flashed” but automatic flood lights while walking on public sidewalks.I’ts a real insult to public space.

  • Edward

    The easy way to understand this ordinance is by replacing the term “security light” with “sprinkler system”. We all use our sprinkler systems to appropriately irrigate our property. But I don’t know anyone that wastes their money watering their neighbor’s yards. After all, watering our neighbor’s property doesn’t make ours any greener. And it wastes money. Lighting up our neighbor’s bedroom does not improve our security!
    So why should anyone want (or be able) to flood their neighbor’s yard / house / second story bedroom with light? It wastes their money and upsets the neighbors … but it is currently legal to do so in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County.
    And while we’re at it, don’t ask me to put up black out shades to fix the problem you create. Why don’t you tell me to get earplugs to block out your noise while you’re at it? There are noise laws and it is unfortunate that there needs to be Light Trespass laws.
    Relative to lights deterring criminals, I generally agree. But studies have shown that too much lighting actually produces glare that reduces our ability to see. Have you ever been blinded by oncoming cars with their headlights on high? Too much “security lighting” causes problems too.
    This is a very good ordinance and one that is far overdue. It is thoughtfully written and provides consistency with at least a half dozen other ordinances or zoning laws that currently exist in the County of Riverside. But I would agree that it is unfortunate that sometimes laws have to be written to enforce what should be common sense ….
    Thank God the Supervisors had the backbone to do it.

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