RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Property owners in Riverside County could risk hundreds of dollars in fines for having their lights shine too brightly — even during the “most wonderful time of the year”.

A proposed ordinance from Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione would levy fines as high as $500 for excessively bright outdoor lighting.

“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 an introduction to his proposal.

He began pursuing an ordinance last year, after a constituent complained that glaring light from a neighboring business was disrupting his sleep.

The supervisor 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 measure stipulates that all outdoor light fixtures “shall be located, adequately shielded and directed such that no direct light falls outside the parcel of origin, or onto the public right-of-way” and
“shall not blink, flash or rotate.”

There would be exceptions for street lights and lights utilized by public safety agencies, as well as lights used for public or private monuments and those activated for special occasions.

The proposal also calls for lighting displays, or “luminaires”, used specifically for holiday purposes to be used for no longer than 30 days during a 12-month period and turned off between the hours of 11 p.m. and sunrise.

Lights would also be prohibited from flashing, blinking or rotating.

A complaint of light trespass would have to be filed with the sheriff’s or code enforcement departments, whose personnel would conduct a follow-up investigation to confirm a violation.

The first two violations in a six-month period would be classified as infractions. A third offense in a six-month period would be treated as a misdemeanor, according to Tavaglione.

The minimum fine for a first offense would be $100. The penalty for a second offense would be $250, and the penalty for three or more offenses would be $500, including the possibility of up to six months in county jail.

Every night that the trespass continues would qualify as a separate offense.

Property owners who have committed “light trespass” prior to adoption of the ordinance would have three to six months to rectify the problem, or face penalties.

Upon its approval, a public hearing and final reading on the measure will be held on Nov. 15.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (14)
  1. mike says:

    Yea, and Santas sled does not have the correct legal navigation lighting, so he wants that grounded as well.

  2. ccc says:

    I thought Republicans, like Supervisor John Tavaglione, were against unnecessary and redundant regulation. Please tell me he recognizes the irony of a GOP member proposing to ban Christmas lights. Talk about a war on Christmas!

    For the complaining citizen, there are nuisance laws that allow him or her to sue the offending business if the light from the business is really that egregious.

  3. Laremy Janecek says:

    ever heard of curtains?

  4. Hollywood Reporter says:

    Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione shounds anti christmas and anti american.

  5. Anthony says:

    Waaaaahhhh ! Mommy, he’s shining a light at me ! Waaaaahhhh !

    1. bugman says:

      I guess that Mr John T. won’t have lights this year or a tree!!!!(yea,right)

  6. Ray says:

    Who is to say what bright is. This is STUPID just like this clown.

  7. Ray says:

    Go back to where you came from

  8. gram says:

    Where does it stop????? I have lights that come on automatically (solar controlled). I cannot turn them off. They shine on my front stairs – some light falls on the sidewalk in front of my house….. Would I have to “shield the sidewalk???? Give me a freakin’ break!!!!! Enough government control!!!!!

  9. Badangel says:

    This idot has nothing better to do? like we need the extra expense to pass his stupid bill….How about cut his health care and limit his expenses. Stop feeding the machine people!

  10. Terrie Rogers says:

    Supervisor Ray:
    As a Riverside County resident, don’t we have more pressing issues to address? If this is your idea of a “priority” for our county, when we’re facing continuing declines in our home values, foreclosures, one of the worst unemployment rates in California, and fiscal issues, you need a reality check. If you can’t figure out a better way to spend your time than squashing the joy of many, for a few Bah Humbuggers, then you should really consider stepping down and letting someone with a better view of the big picture “supervise” our county.

  11. Trixie says:

    Ah yet another attempt to abolish Christmas! Every religion should be respected! Every last one of them, get it! Church here, State there, remember?!

  12. Les says:

    This article is misleading. Holiday displays are EXEMPT from ALL requirements of the law as long as they are off between 11PM and sunrise.

    Accordingly, the exemption for holiday displays clearly applies to the requirement that “Lights would also be prohibited from flashing, blinking or rotating.”

    1. Les says:

      (The exemption applies for up to 30 days per year when the lighting it properly installed and as long as the lights are off between 11:00PM and sunrise.)

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