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Lights Out! Riverside County Fights Light Pollution With New Law

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Photo by MarcelClemens via Shutterstock
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Riverside County wants its residents to turn off the bright lights.

The county's board of supervisors has given a tentative OK to a law meant to fight the kind of light pollution that makes it hard for residents to see stars from their backyards. The law would require residents to shield bright exterior lights and point them away from their neighbor's homes and public streets. It wouldn't affect public street lights, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

John Garrett, a member of the International Dark Sky Association, told KPCC, "'Hey, I used to be able to enjoy the backyard looking at the stars with my children. Now I can't. Is there anything I can do to get my neighbor to stop shining that floodlight at me?' This ordinance will help change that, and I hope it becomes a model for our cities to adopt as well."

There's even a provision in their that might put an end to those neighbors who leave their Christmas lights on for all the seasons. Holiday lights are kosher, but they have to be turned off between 11 p.m. and sunrise, and they have to be turned off completely after a month.

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But Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, who supports the ordinance, is working to make sure that the county can actually enforce the law.

"How will this affect electric billboards?" Stone said, according to KPCC. "We have athletic fields on school sites, and I'm concerned about enforceability. Are we going to have the light police? I want to see it enforced but I'm not sure this is going to be a top priority for a sheriff's department. I understand the motivation but I worry about broad-brushing and the ramifications it can have on us."

Once the law is finalized, resident's would have three to six months to turn off their
If finalized, the ordinance gives residents three to six months to comply. Anyone who violates the law once or twice is guilty of an infraction. Two violations are a misdemeanor. Fines are $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second and $500 or up to six months in jail for any other violations.