OUTDOOR LIGHTING STANDARDS
Take a close look at the outdoor lights on your property. Where does their light shine? Does it shine only downward to where it's needed? Or does it also shine outward into the eyes of passersby and into neighbors' windows, and upward into the night sky?
Human beingslike all other living creaturesevolved in the absence of nighttime lighting. But during just the last century or so, our outdoor environment has become increasingly polluted with light, much of it unnecessary.
Not surprisingly, studies of the effects of nighttime lighting on humans associate a variety of ailmentsfrom insomnia to breast cancerwith poorly designed lighting. The good news is that converting existing "bad" lights into "good" lights is both easy and inexpensive. And city code requires all outdoor lighting fixtures installed since August 2001 to be "good" lights.
Amazon Neighborhood is fortunate to already have quite a few examples of good outdoor lighting on both private and public property. With every year that passes, there are more nicely shielded porch lights; the City of Eugene is converting our antiquated street lights to flat-lens lights; and the lights at Amazon Pool and in the surrounding parking lots all shine their light downward, and nowhere else.
Let's show how much we care about each other by focusing our lights on our own property, rather than letting the light shine off onto other properties and up into the sky. It's not just the law; it's a good idea!
Frequently Asked Questions about Eugenes Outdoor Lighting Standards
What are outdoor lighting standards?
In an effort to improve community livability, outdoor lighting standards were incorporated into Eugenes land use code when it was updated during the late 1990s. These standards are intended to produce effective and attractive outdoor lighting that is appropriate to the need; conserves energy; and prevents glare, light pollution, and light trespass. The standards require simply that all lighting fixtures shall confine the light they produce within the property boundaries of the site on which they are installed.
How do I know if a light is in violation of the code?
Any outdoor lighting fixture that casts light beyond the property boundaries of the site where its installed is in violation of the code. If you stand just beyond the property line (e.g., on the nearest public sidewalk) and can see the light source (or "bulb") of any lighting fixture, it is in violation even if the source is covered with translucent glass such as a decorative globe.
Doesnt shining lights downward make it harder to see at night, and endanger personal safety and security?
Quite the contrary. Public safety officers are some of the most avid proponents of good lighting because its the glare from unshielded lights that makes it difficult for officers (and the rest of us) to see at night. Our eyes "close down" to adjust to the brightest light in our field of view (e.g., the glare from a poorly designed lighting fixture), so everywhere else (the shadows) becomes even less visible to us. Well-designed lights eliminate the glare and enable us to see far better at night, thus improving personal safety and security.
What does it really matter if lighting fixtures on my property cast light beyond the property boundaries?
Imagine if your neighbors turned on their lawn sprinkler and it sprayed water onto your patio where you were entertaining guests, or into an open window of your house, or out into the street? Youd think that was downright unneighborlybesides being a waste of water and money. Its the same thing with outdoor lighting. If a lighting fixture on your property casts its light beyond your property, it can shine into neighbors windows where its unwanted; into the eyes of passersby, causing disabling glare; and into the night sky, where it serves no purpose whatsoever. Moreover, all that undirected light is just a waste of electricity and money.
What does good outdoor lighting look like?
Most of us wouldnt think of having an unshaded lamp in our living room because the glare of the bare bulb would be very unpleasant to look at. Likewise, when you look at the lighting in the cabin of an airliner or a train, or inside most modern office buildings, you seldom see the light source (unless the lighting is recessed in the ceiling and youre looking straight up at it). In the same way, good outdoor lighting illuminates the space by directing its light down, not up or sideways. As you approach the building or commercial area, you should not be able to see the source of any of the lighting. Well-designed outdoor lighting is very attractive and enhances the beauty of a building or an outdoor space. Once you see how great good lighting looks, youll wonder why we didnt have these standards many decades ago.
Are there inexpensive ways to shield existing lights to make them more neighborhood-friendly instead of buying a new fixture?
Many conventional porch lights can be quickly and inexpensively shielded to comply with the standards and to make your home and entryway safer and more attractive. Aluminum flashing (6" or 12" wide) is the easiest material to work with and is available at any hardware store. If your light is suspended from the porch ceiling, simply make a cylinder of the flashing (use "metal tape" to glue the seam, and fashion tabs to attach it to the ceiling) and place it over the existing fixture. For lights mounted on the side of the building, simply affix a curved piece of flashing in front of the offending bulb. The flashing can be spray painted to make it less obvious, although the flashings dull silver color is not itself unattractive in most situations.
Do I need a permit to install a new light?
For safety reasons, you are required to obtain a permit to install any new electrical fixtureincluding outdoor lighting fixturesto ensure that the wiring is done properly, etc. If you are simply adding a new fixture to pre-existing wiring, a permit is not necessary.
Where can I see examples of good outdoor lighting in Eugene?
- Porch and entry lights:
2755 and 2760 Potter Street (conventional porch lights fitted with shields of aluminum flashing)
379/381 East 12th Avenue (fixture is concealed under porch roof)
2839 Kincaid Street (fixture is recessed in soffit)
2755 Kincaid Street (shielded porch light)
- Public buildings:
Lane County Public Service Building (125 East 8th Avenue)
Amazon Pool, adjacent parking lot, and new restroom near picnic area (Hilyard Street between 26th and 27th)
- Commercial buildings:
Selco Community Credit Union (northwest corner, 11th and High)
Safeway at 18th and Oak (lights affixed to building walls, but not parking lot lights)
- Parking lots:
South Eugene High School (19th and Patterson)
PeaceHealth (12th and Olive)
Oakway Center (Coburg Road and Oakway Road, except for the lighted bollardsand the uplit American flag)
This information provided courtesy
Eugene Outdoor Lighting Advisory Group
P.O. Box 3773
Eugene, Oregon 97403