Light Pollution Under Control - Tucson News Now

Light Pollution Under Control

by Mark Poepsel , KOLD News-13 Reporter

Looking out over Tucson, you can't really see the bright lights of the city.

Some have noticed it's one of the darkest cities of its size in the country and wish for more light. 

"It's just dark, that's how I feel, not on roads, but on neighborhoods," said Susan Noack.  "Any neighborhood, anywhere, Northwest, East Side, Southwest, there's no light anywhere."

But for close to two decades, Tucson and Pima County have had light control laws, some of the most strict in the country.

The International Dark Sky Association (IDSA), headquartered in Tucson says it's necessary. Tucson's telescopes, the optics industry, bring in millions each year.

They advocate for safe lighting directed downward around Tucson's homes and businesses. 

"What we mean is light directed where you want it, light directed on the ground, no reason to send it up in the air, that light is totally wasted," said Dr. John Polacheck of the IDSA.  "All you're doing is lighting the bellies of airplaned and birds."

Tucson is one of the only places in the country to limit the amount of light allowed per acre.  It differs: more light allowed for business, less for residential areas and even less for rural locales.

"Looking at satellite images of the US, greater Tucson looks really good for the size of city we have," said John Huntley, a county building code enforcer. "We need to be in a position where we can handle growth and maintain our dark night skies. In my opinion we are in that position," he said.

In the past, businesses have pushed to allow more light. They've had little luck.

The light ordinance is being rewritten, not to change the rules, but to make it easier to understand. "The current code is probably most complex, most restrictive code we've had," said Huntley.

The complexity may be going out the window, but the restrictions are not.

 

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