BY GALEN GISLER
Los Alamos County is at last on the threshold of adopting a new lighting ordinance, which should make it possible for our community to join our neighbor, the Valles Caldera National Preserve, as one of 200-plus internationally recognized Dark Sky Places (see the website of the International Dark-Sky Association — www.darksy.org). The new lighting ordinance under consideration is part of the massive rewrite of the County’s Development Code, which will be considered by the County Council in a public hearing this coming Wednesday, Nov. 30 starting at 6 pm.
The lighting ordinance portion originated in a draft that several of our local night-sky advocates began drafting in the spring of 2020, more than two years ago. Our draft was submitted to Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, the architectural firm that the County asked to draft the new Development Code, debated by the citizens’ advisory group, and presented to the general public in multiple hearings over the past two years. It incorporated many changes, most recently from lighting engineers at Clanton & Associates. Inevitably, a number of compromises were adopted in the version now being presented, but the final rewrite addresses the most important issues with consideration to health and wildlife risks, crime and safety, energy conservation, and the cultural and scientific issues of preserving our beautiful nighttime skies. As lighting technology continues to improve, we may wish to revisit certain parts of the ordinance in the future.
For the present, I support the current version of the lighting ordinance portion of the new Development Code, and urge my fellow night-sky advocates to attend the hearing on Wednesday. I hope the County Council will adopt it without further changes at this point.