Council to consider citywide lighting standards

Malibu High field lights

Amid frequent conflicts over night lighting throughout Malibu, officials will consider drafting a citywide lighting ordinance at a City Council meeting on April 8.

After a dark skies expert presented an outdoor lighting template for municipalities on Feb. 4, the Planning Commission recommended the City Council consider directing city staffers to draft detailed lighting standards, something the city’s local coastal program (LCP) and municipal code both lack.

Malibu dealt with several lighting issues in the last year, including parking lot light plans at the Trancas Shopping Center and 70-foot stadium lights on the football field and parking lot light fixtures at a new proposed parking lot at Malibu High. The stadium lighting resulted in ongoing litigation between high school neighbors, the City of Malibu and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

James Benya, a lighting designer who helped write the International Dark Sky Association Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO), made the Feb. 4 presentation to discuss several aspects of potential lighting standards. 

“The Model Lighting Ordinance is an outdoor lighting template designed to help municipalities develop outdoor lighting standards that reduce glare, light trespass, and sky glow. The standards also reduce expenses, save energy, and cut greenhouse gas emissions,” according to a staff report authored by Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski. 

The LCP and municipal code contain some standards requiring shielded, downward facing night lighting and lighting that isn’t a “nuisance” to drivers, but “neither document has detailed standards regarding the allowed height of light poles or the amount of illumination,” Parker-Bozylinski wrote.

Among its four options, the City Council could choose to send the issue to the Zoning Ordinance Revisions and Code Enforcement Subcommittee (ZORACES) for further exploration, direct city staff to begin drafting an ordinance, hire an outside consultant to prepare the draft ordinance or include a lighting ordinance in a zoning code update already in the works. 

To read more on the possible lighting ordinance, read Parker-Bozylinski’s report here