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Let There Be Light
Julie Maxey-Allison | 10th Street

Cut-off lighting” design
Photo Julie Maxey-Allison.
Click to enlarge.

One of the perks of living or visiting Del Mar is that our small village is a walking city from our coast to Crest Road. However, sidewalks are discouraged and not every street is flat or perfectly paved.

It can be tricky to walk our streets with the irregular asphalt, bumps, curb cuts, gutters, various forms of debris, and fellow travelers on foot and on bikes, fellow traveling dogs. And that’s in daylight. After dark, unless the moon is full, or there is the odd sporadic landscaping illumination, night walkers face a greater challenge. Whether on their way to dinner, events, friends or just out for evening exercise, they best be armed with a flashlight, or, for the more outdoor types, headlamps. Still, focused light doesn’t shine everywhere and there is always the worry of oncoming traffic.

Let there be night lighting? Depends. Dark sky proponents warn of creeping celestial blindness due to light pollution—excessive, misdirected or invasive use of artificial outdoor lighting. Del Mar agrees. While protecting the city from light pollution blinding us to the glories of the dark night sky, the community plan does provide a provision for residential streets. It states that for the majority of the city “low level pedestrian lighting should be installed.”

Cut-off lighting” design
Photo Julie Maxey-Allison.
Click to enlarge.

The issues: The blue tone LED lights that are good for reducing our carbon footprint are bad for other parts of our environment, and the astronomy research being done by the folks at the Palomar Observatory. Blue tone LED lights compete with moonlight, altering the color and contrast of our nighttime sky as well as blocking our starlight. Worse, circadian rhythms—the 24-hour processes of most organisms—are disrupted for wildlife, plants, and us. Indoors, think the smartphone, computer screen, and television.

For the many who would like to be able to be out with the night sky and on clear nights see sparkling stars without turning an ankle or being run down by a car there are possibilities. Low bollard lighting is one option, with compact fluorescent lamps or LED warm white lighting. “Cut-off lighting” designs send the light down to the ground with shields that prevent light from being emitted to the sky. Some have motion sensors.

Start with street corners. Start on Stratford.

 

 

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