Alpine seeks input on lighting ordinance

ALPINE — The city of Alpine is considering revamping its outdoor lighting ordinance and is seeking community input.

The city’s current outdoor lighting rules date from 2009. Like other such ordinances in the region, those rules were written with the goal of keeping the night skies dark and stars visible.

But in the decade since, “new science, technology and social and economic benefits have been discovered,” city officials stated last week in a news release. As Alpine works to become recognized as an International Dark Sky Community, officials are looking at fine-tuning those lighting rules. Doing so, they said in their news release, will also help ensure that Alpine remains “a high quality visitor destination and a great place to live and work.”

The first public meeting on this issue will happen next Wednesday, October 7, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the Alpine Civic Center. Though masks are required, city officials also stress that the 8,000 square-foot center is “large enough to safely host the public meeting with proper social distance.”

The event will also be livestreamed on the City of Alpine website and Youtube account for those who don’t wish to attend. Residents can visit for more information.

The first meeting will be educational, with the goal of informing attendees on the health, safety and aesthetic implications of good lighting. Attendees will also review the current and proposed lighting ordinances, with the goal of getting feedback and questions.

Bill Wren, a worker at the McDonald Observatory, will give a presentation. Among the topics he plans to cover, according to a schedule of the event, are the history of light and the effects of lighting on human health, wildlife and sleep patterns.

The presentation will also give examples of good and bad lighting, including “classroom-style” demonstrations on these lights using a diorama and other tools. At the end of the meeting, attendees will also learn about the logistics and details on current and proposed ordinances, including the cost efficiency of the proposals.

In total, Alpine plans to hold at least three public workshops and meetings on this topic. Officials have not yet released final dates for the second and third meetings.

The second meeting will discuss “questions and technical aspects” around the proposed ordinance as well as the “specific needs and wants of the community.” Finally, at the third meeting, participants will draft a final version of the proposed ordinance, with the goal of getting it on the city council agenda.