Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2017  
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  Nighttime Light Pollution in Richmond
November 24, 2017

Chapter 15.04.604 of the new Richmond Zoning Code adopted in 2016 has detailed restrictions on outdoor lighting, such as, “Shielding. All nonexempt outdoor lighting fixtures shall have shielding as shown in Table 15.04.604.050-D.”

I don’t believe this is being enforced. I am seeing new, high intensity LED fixtures at locations such as the Marina Bay Inn and Suites at 915 West Cutting Boulevard and Linde Gases at 731 West Cutting Boulevard. These lights are so bright that you can read by them at night at my home over one-third of a mile away. Combine these with the unshielded lights in the BNSF Train Yards, and this area suffers greatly from nighttime light pollution.

According to,  “…a growing body of evidence links the brightening night sky directly to measurable negative impacts on human health and immune function, on adverse behavioral changes in insect and animal populations, and on a decrease of both ambient quality and safety in our nighttime environment. Astronomers were among the first to record the negative impacts of wasted lighting on scientific research, but for all of us, the adverse economic and environmental impacts of wasted energy are apparent in everything from the monthly electric bill to global warming.”

I posted this on NextDoor just this morning and already got the following comments:

  • Yes! Those lights illuminate the inside of our house at night!
  • Yes, this is a huge nuisance. The lights on Marina Bay & Suites are glare-bombs and I believe they cause a nuisance and potential danger for drivers who are blinded by the lights when exiting the freeway. There are glare bomb lights mounted on some businesses on Ohio Ave that blind drivers and bicyclists. The new lights at the entrance to the parking lot at East Brothers Beer are also way too bright and mounted at a 45 degree angle which maximizes the glare and blinds a driver's eyes. The lights in the rail yard are so bright we can make shadow puppet shows at night in our dining room. All of this is horrible for migrating birds, bats, owls, and amphibians and human health. I am thrilled the city is taking this seriously! Thank you for looking into this! (PS, I shamelessly borrowed the attached graphic from the physics department at Florida Atlantic University, which has great info about lighting and safety:
  • Yes, this is an issue about which Richmond should take action. I am now on a first name basis with Chevron fire command because of my frequent calls the past few weeks trying to get temporary lights in the overflow parking lot turned so that they don't blaze into my home. Blaze is the correct term because it is like have stadium lights just outside my windows. The white glare of LED lights is much more disturbing that other lights. Cities, as major purchasers of lighting, should be pushing manufacturers for better products. And cities and counties should be enforcing existing code. We all need to get as much sleep as possible.
  • Yes, I am very concerned for the same reasons as Mayor Butt, and also am impacted personally. Two sides of my unit in Atchison Village are illuminated including my bedrooms. The only light at night should come from the moon and stars. I realize there are safety concerns, but Atchison Village is not dark at all at night. A twilight is all we get. But I would appreciate information on how to get a shield for the street light right outside my unit. I have been told Dept. Of Public Works, but wonder if Mayor Butt has time to chime in about this.
  • I am glad you are bringing this up. We have been talking to Marina Bay lighting dept for more than a year about the glaring light near the boat gate E and they do nothing. I think it could be as simple as painting the transparent light cover. Can we get more residents to band together and come up with ideas or an action plan? I like the scientific evidence gathered here. Thank you.

If you are having issues with nighttime lighting in your neighborhood, please let me know, and be specific about the source.

Nighttime Light Pollution in Richmond
Dark Site Finder shows comparative levels of nighttime light pollution