Malibu officials move forward on citywide lighting ordinance


Council votes to hire a lighting expert to draft an ordinance and hold ZORACES meetings for community input on lighting ordinance.

By Melissa Caskey / Malibu Times

Amid pressure from the community to correct outdated and vague lighting standards in the city’s current zoning code, the Malibu City Council on Monday unanimously voted to get the ball rolling on the drafting of citywide lighting ordinance.

In a 5-0 vote, the council directed city staff to take two steps toward updating current city standards:

– Schedule at least one and possible several public meetings of the Zoning Ordinance Revisions and Code Enforcement Subcommittee (ZORACES) to further vet the idea of a citywide lighting ordinance and receive more community feedback from residents and commercial landowners during the draft process.

– Issue a request for proposals (RFP) to hire a lighting consultant who will draft the ordinance and, in turn, ease the workload for the city’s planning department. Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski said, “Our plates are full right now.”

During public comment, speakers in favor of a citywide ordinance included three sitting members of the Malibu Planning Commission, which recommended the update. One of them, David Brotman, asserted that current city standards will be useless in a matter of years if the city does not update them.

“Current lighting regulations listed in the [Local Implementation Plan], the [Land Use Plan] and the municipal code are woefully inadequate and furthermore obsolete,” Brotman told the council. “References are made throughout the code to a 60-watt light bulb as the maximum allowed … The federal government is out to get rid of the use of incandescent light bulbs, and when they do we won’t have anything to use as a law.”

Several speakers urged the council to adopt the Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO) written by experts in the International Dark Sky Association and Iluminating Engineering Society.

“The Model Lighting Ordinance is an outdoor lighting template designed to help municipalities develop outdoor lighting standards that reduce glare, light trespass, and sky glow. The standards also reduce expenses, save energy, and cut greenhouse gas emissions,” according to a staff report prepared by Parker-Bozylinski.

James Benya, one of the MLO’s co-authors, said the MLO took seven years to develop and was “tested against all known scientific standards” to assure it was a fair template.

Councilmembers agreed that city standards were not up to par and the MLO could serve as a strong model, but opted to move forward with caution and plenty of community input.

“[The ordinance discussion should go] to ZORACES only because we have homeowners who should be alerted this is coming up,” said Councilwoman Joan House. “I also think commercial property owners should be brought in to have a chance to go over it.”

Councilmembers Skylar Peak and John Sibert sit on ZORACES, which has not met since October 2012.

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