A technical glitch in legal posting requirements forced the continuance for an additional week on voting to adopt Ordinance No. 915, a measure to regulate outdoor lighting in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County.
The ordinance primarily would provide fines for light that falls across a property line onto another lot or invades a public right-of-way.
During the public hearing session, several proponents of the ordinance were on hand to address the supervisors, some armed with slide presentations to help make their case.
Bill Larsen, the man behind the measure who lives in an unincorporated area of Corona, brought to the meeting a new way to think about the proposed ordinance.
“More is not better,” he said. “We need to start thinking about light as being like a sprinkler system. You wouldn’t want to water your neighbors’ yard, so why light it up?”
Larsen also supplied a chart detailing the cost — $540 per year — of operating a single 500-watt outdoor light bulb for 12 hours nightly.
As a member of the International Dark Sky Association and the Temecula Valley Astronomers, Wildomar resident John Garrett returned again to speak to the board.
“I hear from school children who tell me that they want to be astronomers. I still support the measure protecting the night sky,” Garrett said.
No opponents spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.
While the proposed ordinance would exempt specific luminaries such as holiday decorations and lighting used for publicly-owned properties, Supervisor Jeff Stone suggested that more comprehensive thought may be required.
“Right now, shopping centers would not be in compliance. And I’ve heard from constituents living in homeowners’ associations who are concerned about parking lot safety for women,” Stone said.
He then showed a slide to the board depicting pickers harvesting grapes, working under harvest lights in the fields.
“Considering our commitment to the Vineyard Zone, we need to look at agricultural exceptions, so there aren’t unintentional consequences that defy logic,” Stone said.
The County of Riverside previously created the Citrus/Vineyard Zone, which is designed to preserve the agricultural and rural lifestyle within the heart of Temecula Valley Wine Country. The law encourages wineries and ancillary commercial activities designed to support wineries.
Winemaker Doug Wiens, of Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula Wine Country, said: “We are all for light control. I believe we follow all the guidelines. There is no reason for (the wineries) not to be to code.”
Wiens said that while some of the wineries exclusively harvest during evening hours, many would not be affected by the ordinance.
“I am not sure that the harvest lights would be a big issue,” he said. “They are small and not terribly bright. They are normally pointed downward.”
Public hearings will resume on Nov. 22 at the Board Chambers, 4800 Lemon Street, in Riverside.