Ivins City Council to consider amendment of city outdoor lighting standards

The Horsehead Nebula as seen from Ivins, Utah, December 2016 | Photo courtesy of Ron Levandoski, Copernicus Observatory, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — At a meeting Thursday, the Ivins City Council will be considering the amendment of the city’s current outdoor lighting standards.

The Ivins Night Sky Initiative will propose amendments to the original ordinance that would prohibit outdoor lights with blue-white colors. The new ordinance will also include a 1,000 Kelvin decrease in color temperature for lamps, changing the maximum color temperature from 4,000 to 3,000 degrees Kelvin.

Director Mike Scott said he knows the color temperature change doesn’t sound very exciting but asserted that the city council’s decision holds the power to enact significant change in the community.

“If passed, the council will be taking groundbreaking action on what we believe to be the lead nationally, even internationally, in dramatically improving nighttime health and safety for its residents,” he said.

According to the amendment, it will be prohibited for residential property lights to exceed a color temperature of 2,700 degrees Kelvin.

A photo illustration depicting the impact amber filters have on the amount of blue light emitted from LED bulbs | Photo courtesy of the Ivins Night Sky Initiative, St. George News

Non-residential property, private streets and parking lots will be held to a new standard of 3,000 degrees Kelvin with a 200-degree leeway and some added requirements. Amber filters will be required for all lighting fixtures, which will ultimately limit the correlated color temperature to around 2,200 degrees Kelvin.

Amber lenses are obligated to be Acrylite cast acrylic sheeting that are 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and the color of the filter is prescribed as “transparent amber” at 86%. Alternatives can be brought to the city council for testing, according to the proposed amendment.

Parking lot lights, bollards, entry lights, signage lighting, and any other freestanding outdoor lights fall under these requirements.

“The proposed change effectively eliminates almost all the blue light emitted by LEDs that creates safety and health problems,” Scott affirmed.

Preserving the night sky has become increasingly important with the progression of technology, he said. High pressure sodium lights are becoming more and more outdated and are being replaced with more energy-efficient, LED bulbs. Older lighting technology, Scott said, had little-to-no blue light emissions; however, the same cannot be said for LED bulbs.

A photo illustration comparing the impact that color temperature has on the amount of blue light emitted from LED bulbs | Photo courtesy of the Ivins Night Sky Initiative, St. George News

Blue light, he said, has detrimental effects on health and safety. Blue light waves have one of the closest wavelengths to ultraviolet light, which can cause sunburns and skin cancer. In recent years, researchers have found a correlation between exposure to blue light and the development of health concerns, including glaucoma, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Besides the impact on human health, blue light can also affect safety, Scott said. Blue light causes glare, which constricts the pupils and makes it hard for eyes to adapt to changes in lighting, especially when there is very little light, like during the evening. Furthermore, Scott said, blue light can significantly affect plants and animals.

The required amber lenses will limit blue light emissions and virtually eliminate any health and safety concerns relating to the exposure of blue light.

The International Dark Sky Association has shown interest in naming Ivins a “Dark Sky Community” within the next year. Ivins must meet certain requirements to be eligible for the classification, which includes a lighting policy that covers shielded lamp posts and blue light restrictions.

The Technical Review Committee tests mockup designs of the amber lenses in Ivins, Utah, on June 28, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Ivins Night Sky Initiative, St. George News

In January, the Ivins Night Sky Initiative gave city council members a draft of 49 pages of recommendations for updating the city’s outdoor lighting ordinance. The council’s decision Thursday only touches on one aspect of these recommendations: the color temperature.

Over the past eight months, representatives from the organization have added over 150 additional footnotes and continued to research more beneficial changes in meetings with the Ivins Technical Review Committee and with members of the city’s administration. The nonprofit has also been continuing its study ordinances from more than a dozen other nearby communities, including Springdale, Moab and Sedona, Arizona.

Members from the Ivins Night Sky Initiative met with Ivins Mayor Chris Hart, City Manager Dale Coulam and Public Works Director Chuck Gillette Wednesday to present the most recent copy of the organization’s recommendations.

Now, Scott will present on the other recommendations during the council’s meeting Thursday. He said his hope is that the city council will seek public input and discuss the recommendations over the next few months before making any final decision on changes to the outdoor lighting ordinance.

Amendments to the ordinance would go into effect immediately after its approval and publication. The City Council is expected to consider and take action on the proposed color temperature amendments at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 15 at Ivins City Hall.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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