Let there be light, say Bandon voters

March 17, 2013 by  

Coos Bay astronomy buffs who envisioned visiting friends in Bandon to watch comets, lunar eclipses, or other night sky events are going to be disappointed with the results of the most recent election.

Bandon voted against an ordinance passed by its city council restricting outdoor lighting. The so-called ‘dark sky ordinance’ will, according to Matt Winkel, Bandon City Manager, have to be repealed.

Bandon voters apparently were passionate about the lighting ordinance because voter turnout was 52.2% for the election. Prior to the election, each side stumped for its position. Printing companies were kept busy with flyer printing as each side tried to influence voters and get them motivated to go to the polls. The special election was the result of a petition drive organized by local resident Rob Taylor, who himself said he handed out 400 to 500 flyers.

The ordinance shot down by voters required all new outdoor lights be shielded to only shine downward. The purpose of the ordinance was to reduce light pollution. Enforcement would have applied only to new construction unless a complaint was issued.

Despite the vote to overturn the ordinance, the stars over Bandon may still appear brighter. Over the past five to six years, the town has been installing ‘dark sky’ compliant, full cutoff fixtures.

City Manager Winkel, while disappointed with the voters’ decision, accepts that they have spoken and that the ordinance is dead. In addition to allowing the night sky to be more visible, the ordinance would have protected people in their bedroom from the intrusive lighting of their neighbors.