Malibu hosts Dark Sky Ordinance public information webinar

Environmental Sustainability Director Yolanda Bundy presented a virtual Dark Sky public information webinar on Wednesday, July 20, for commercial businesses and answered questions about commercial, institutional, and multi-family. 

The Dark Sky Ordinance aims to reduce light pollution through the proper application of outdoor electric lighting. Requirements include light fixtures that are fully shielded, have low color temperature, and direct light downwards.

On Jan. 10, the City Council extended the deadlines for commercial, residential, and institutional zoning districts to comply with Dark Sky Ordinance to Oct. 15. The extension was in response to concerns about non-compliance and community feedback requesting more time and information about the requirements. 

“This is why we are here to urge you to go through the process to come and see us,” Bundy said. “We will go over what the requirements are going to be and also how to go through the process.” 

The Dark Sky Ordinance was adopted on May 29, 2018, and regulates outdoor lighting through the addition of comprehensive, citywide outdoor lighting standards which are contained in the Malibu-Municipal Code Chapter 17.41

The requirements of the ordinance include:

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All outdoor light fixtures must comply with the following requirements immediately:

1. Outdoor light fixtures that have the ability to be redirected, shall be directed downward so as to minimize sky glow, glare and light trespass onto adjacent properties.

2. Outdoor light fixtures that have adjustable dimmers with color temperature that exceeds 3,000 Kelvin shall be dimmed to comply with Section 17.41.050(G) to minimize glare and light trespass onto adjacent properties.

3. String lights may be allowed in occupied dining and entertainment areas only and must not exceed 3,000 Kelvin. String lights shall not be used as landscape lights. This does not apply to seasonal lighting.

For public outreach and connecting the community, Bundy said the city has had 14 public meetings and one public workshop thus far. The key components include citywide and zoning requirements such as lighting fixtures, motion sensors, and curfews that apply to new and existing lighting.

“The city is committed to help you and assist you in the permitting process so we’re also making this our priority,” Bundy said. “We have fire rebuilds and are very busy, but we also understand that this is a council direction and would love to help you through the process.”

According to the city website, Any violation of the provisions of the Malibu-Municipal Code Chapter 17.41 shall be subject to the administrative penalty provisions of Title 1 Chapter 1.10 of this code. 

“Any responsible person who receives an administrative citation shall be subject to the payment of fines as set out in the penalty schedule for administrative fines as adopted by resolution of the city council. An administrative penalty shall be assessed by means of an administrative citation issued by an enforcement officer, and shall be payable directly to the city,” the website states. “In the case of violations of the building, plumbing, mechanical or electrical codes which do not pose an imminent threat to health and safety, an administrative citation shall not be issued until after the responsible party has been provided notice and a reasonable opportunity to correct the violation, and has failed to do so.”

Failure to pay the fines assessed by an administrative citation may result in the matter being referred for collection which may include, but is not limited to, the filing of a small claims court action, the website continues.

Bundy said they have already followed up with more than 120 commercial businesses.

“We will continue the efforts and whatever the city can do is committed to get you there,” Bundy said. 

Bundy answered questions about commercial, institutional and multi-family.

“Commercial is separate from institutional and are school and hospitals, commercial is your shopping center, multi-family projects are residential,” Bundy said. “The city decided to start pushing this webinar for commercial use but we’ll have subsequent meetings for the rest of the other applications.”

Bundy said they are continuing to get gas stations and the rest of the commercial businesses in compliance.

While the city does not have a specific building inspector, Bundy recommends hiring an engineer or electrical contractor to assist property owners.

“We are going to be hosting a more robust and hopefully we’ll get more participants to attend,” Bundy said. “This informational webinar is to get you started, the additional outreach that we are planning to do is more robust and also being presented by James Pena, our illuminating engineer and lighting designer, and also at that time we will be able to answer more of your questions.”

Malibu’s Dark Skies Ordinance goes into effect on Oct. 15. For more information on the ordinance and requirements visit, malibucity.org/darkskyordinance.

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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