Dark Sky ordinance

This came in from Tim Holt:


Word on the street is that Clear Channel (the owners of 10000000 billboards around town) are trying to get the Dark Sky ordinance (which uses shielded lighting, which saves energy, cuts down glare, and makes the city safer, and…. makes the sky darker  for this of us that still like those twin liking lights in the night sky) overturned by City council. Write your City Rep and tell them that you do not want to see the Dark Sky overturned or have any businesses given an exemption.

Tim Holt

16 Responses to Dark Sky ordinance

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Tim. I’m trying to get the word out, too. More emails to council. Easy: district1@elpasotexas.gov; district2@elpasotexas.gov – etc….change the district number up to and including 8. no names necessary. AND don’t forget to include our city manager Tommy – tgonzalez@elpasotexas.gov – AND to the guy who wrote the proposed ordinance Mathew McElroy, mcelroymx@elpasotexas.gov. NO CHANGES – NO EXEMPTIONS!
    Keep our Dark Sky Ordinance as it is!! (one email, just run the addresses together in the “to” box – semi colon between will appear.)
    We need to show we are serious, otherwise, we’re done. Of course, anyone can sign up to speak at the meeting – sign up online before 8am Tuesday. THAT would be SPECTACULAR!!!!


  2. Marci says:

    Sounds like it’s time to re-educate council. If we don’t stop Clear Channel now, it’s the beginning of the end of El Paso dark sky. Also, Clear Channel is asking for assistance from the city with billboards that are removed by the state for new roads, etc. currently, the state pays the company for those removed, and now Clear Channel is requesting relocation of them! June 2nd, City Hall, 9am….sign up online to speak.


    • Reality Checker says:

      Take a guess who will foot the bill for any assistance given to Clear Channel. Just what we need…more corporate welfare. If they get paid for those removed and then request additional assistance from the city, that’s also double dipping.


      • Anonymous says:

        It’s also not reducing the number of billboards! Read the backup for the item at city website. McElroy writes as though clear channel is doing us a favor the way he couches all the bad with” beautification of EP” reterick! Final posting will be Thursday late afternoon. No telling what will be on the agenda this time.


        • Reality Checker says:

          A vote for Clear Channel is a vote for free concert tickets for everyone on city council and in city management.


  3. Jerry K says:

    Also telling them how it saves on energy cost.
    Like the 4-day week for city workers 🙂


  4. Cory Stone says:

    Thank you, Brutus for posting this.

    As Tim pointed out, those of us in the science education community worked a great deal on this particular ordinance. At issue was not merely making our skies darker (as the name of the ordinance suggests). The REAL issues are safety and savings! It has been shown in cities all over the planet that when municipalities fully shield their lights (forcing ALL of the light onto the ground where we want and need it) and lowering the wattage of the lamps, millions of dollars can be saved!

    We went all through the science of this for the City Council years ago and was able to rather easily convince them (once they saw it all and the sense it makes). In the time since, the City has done a fine job in converting the lights it is responsible for, by the way.

    The other issue is safety. Up light and sideways light sends light directly into the eyes of drivers, pedestrians, as well as police and security personnel (as well as wasting energy that just flies up into space doing nothing). This is called GLARE and causes one’s pupils to contract allowing less light into your eye and thus guaranteeing significantly worse vision in low light environments. You know, like driving at night. How many pedestrians were hit and killed on the border highway before we installed full cut of lighting there? How many since… But, I can’t recall hearing about such an incident on the local news since the change…

    All companies have been required to down light their billboards. Most have complied. In SOOOO many other cities around the country, all of the companies have complied (and NONE of them have gone out of business). In fact, we have shown that down lighting billboards makes them stand out better against the dark background! That’s right… Without the bright glare of the light in driver’s eyes, their advertisements are EASIER TO SEE!

    I think the scientific term for this is… “Duh!”

    The massive company in question in this ordinance challenge has had the same time (and a great deal more resources than most other companies over that time) to comply with this simple ordinance. If we allow them to up light their billboards, what point is there in having a lighting ordinance at all? This is just their first real challenge. They WILL try other things. If they are allowed to break the rule, then all others will want to as well.

    Allowing them an exception to this rule would be the equivalent of saying… The speed limit is 45 mph… Except for this company… They can go as fast they want…

    Do not let this happen, El Paso.

    We all do indeed deserve better…


    • epkamikazi says:

      As a Scoutmaster I am happy that I can take my Scouts to Tom Mays Park for night observations and have a pretty clear view… at least from an amateur perspective. But we do have 2 observatories within the city limits!


  5. balmorhea says:

    I drove in Flagstaff, a low light community, about 10 years ago and could not see a thing at night. If you don’t know the streets there, it’s practically impossible to see a street sign at night — or even a street. It was a dangerous environment and I don’t want that to happen in El Paso. I hope safety is not sacrificed for dark skies.

    We want tourists and people from out of town to come here. Don’t make it difficult for them to drive. Our streets are messed up enough with potholes.

    I’m getting used to being the contrarian in these discussions. Is Elpasospeak becoming Elpasonaturally Part II? Are fracking and global warming (oh excuse me, now it’s climate change) the next topics?


    • epkamikazi says:

      Don’t worry… we have sculptures that light up to lead the way.

      On a side note I had some headlights installed on my vehicles… some say they are an unneeded expense but I have found them worth the investment… (slightly tongue in cheek but this goes back to all the people who claim we need to light up Loop 375 around Ft Bliss because it’s too dark and causes accidents… I say that since most of these accidents happen between 2 and 5 AM either shut it down or require a breathalyzer to enter. Or just turn on your headlights!


    • ManintheMoon says:

      Clearly you have zero understanding of light and the human eye. The lighting being sold by EL Paso Electric is junk, have this problem in my community. Nope, ask Cory if he wants all the lights shut off he will tell you no but wants to get the light on the ground were it is useful and not causing glare. Poor out door lighting on average put up more than 50% of the light into the sky where it is useless. I guess if your interest is to signal aliens that maybe be passing by is one thing but for safe useful human use we need to get this light point onto the ground where it is not being wasted.
      Do you realize that the light dome of El Paso can be seen and photographed over 180 miles out from the city. This is all wasted light that serves no one. Just maybe you need to study the issues more closely. This is no even taking about the health and safety risk that comes with poor lighting.


  6. ManintheMoon says:

    Here is a site to find information on the health risk of light pollution.

    Another report on the cancer risk issues with light pollution.


  7. ManintheMoon says:

    On board with this issues Tim but we are talking about the CC and you can’t help stupid. Once again the CC needs to be schooled on the issue. Two points to remained them on is how bad lighting helps the criminal element in the community and what has now been shown to be a health risk in triggering cancer in woman, to behavioral problems in children and causing sleep issue with adults. I do not believe that telling them it will effect our state treasure McDonald observatory that they will give a damn about or the effects on wild life. Also telling them how it saves on energy cost. Then again if one can show how it can affect them, family or friend directly then it may hit home with the brain died CC.


    • Helen Marshall says:

      I agree that the Money Talks, and the only way to prevent this from happening is for those concerned to tell council and mayor and manager that they care about it…using some of these economic arguments as well as health, environment, bird safety, etc.


  8. Haiduc says:

    I too support the Dark Sky Ordinance but the 1 million billboard guys pay a small fee to the CITY …so the City loves income. They say the Electric Billboards are only half a lumen brighter the ambient light…ambient light source is the SUN !


  9. Tim Holt says:

    Thank you Brutus. The Science Education Community in town worked for many years to get the Dark Sky Ordinance passed and if you drive by most all new construction from the last ten years, you will see, as an example, parking lot lights where the light points down towards the ground instead of pointing both up and down.

    We also worked with McDonald Observatory to get this passed, because believe it or not, the glare from El Paso lights even affects their telescopes a couple hundred miles away.

    (Surprisingly enough, when we passed the ordinance , Juarez had done so many years before, and the glare from Juarez lights was much less than El Paso.)

    We astronomy buffs, and those that just like to show our kids the night sky don’t want El Paso to step backwards.

    Thank you for allowing us to help get the word out.


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