Initially outdoor light ordinances were adopted by communities with research observatories at the urging of astronomers. But star-gazing is not the only reason for regulating night lighting. Many of Florida’s oceanfront communities have adopted lighting codes to protect the nesting sea turtles along beaches. Sea turtle hatchlings instinctively head toward light. Before electric lighting, bioluminescence and the reflection of the moon on the water made the ocean brighter than the land. But due to light pollution, hatchlings often head inland. The strict limits on street lighting on Sanibel Island aim to remedy the imbalance between the unnatural brightness of the shoreline and the natural bioluminescence of the sea.
Below is Sanibel Island’s zoning statutes pertaining to outdoor lighting as of 2009. Click here for the current full text of Sanibel’s outdoor lighting ordinances.
The International Dark-Sky Association is the primary on-line resource for light pollution information.
ARTICLE XIV. SUPPLEMENTARY DISTRICT REGULATIONS
DIVISION 4. OUTDOOR LIGHTING
- Ambient light means light not originating from the site, such as moonlight.
- Artificial light or artificial lighting means the light emanating from any manmade device.
- “Bug” type bulb means any yellow light bulb specifically designed to reduce the attraction of insects to the light.
- Cumulatively illuminated means illuminated by numerous artificial light sources.
- Direct light means light emitted directly from the lamp, off of the reflector or reflector diffuser, or through the refractor or diffuser lens, of a luminaire.
- Fixture means the assembly that houses the lamp or lamps and can include all or some of the following parts: A housing, a mounting bracket or pole socket, a lamp holder, a ballast, a reflector or mirror, and/or a refractor or lens.
- Flood or spot light means any light fixture or lamp that incorporates a reflector or a refractor to concentrate the light output into a directed beam.
- Full cutoff fixture means a luminaire that does not emit any light, either directly or by reflection or diffusion, above a horizontal plane running through the lowest part of the fixture.
- Glare means light emitting from a luminaire that interferes with visibility.
- Ground-level barrier means any vegetation, natural feature or artificial structure rising from the ground which prevents beachfront lighting from shining directly onto the beach-dune system.
- Hatchling means any species of marine turtle, within or outside of a nest, that has recently hatched from an egg.
- Indirect light means direct light that has been reflected or has scattered off of other surfaces.
- Lamp means the component of a luminaire that produces the actual light.
- Light trespass means light from an artificial light source that is intruding into an area where it does not belong, such as an adjoining or nearby property, or the beach or dune.
- Luminaire means a complete lighting system, including a lamp or lamps and a fixture.
- Marine turtle means any marine-dwelling reptile of the families Cheloniidae or Dermochelyidae found in state waters or using the beach as nesting habitat, including the species: Caretta caretta (loggerhead), Chelonia mydas (green), Dermochelys coriacea (leatherback), Eretmochelys imbricata (hawksbill), and Lepidochelys kempi (Kemp’s ridley).
- Marine turtle nesting season means the period from May 1 through October 31 of each year.
- Nest means an area where marine turtle eggs have been naturally deposited or subsequently relocated.
- Outdoor lighting means the nighttime illumination of an outside area or object by any fixed luminaire. Vehicle lights and flashlights are not included in this definition.
- Point source of light means any artificial light or lighting that directly radiates visible light.
- Recessed luminaire means a luminaire recessed into an outdoor ceiling or canopy so that its bottom is flush with the underside of the structure.
- Skyglow means illumination of the sky from artificial sources.
- Tinted glass means any glass treated to achieve an industry-approved, inside-to-outside light transmittance value of 45 percent or less. Such transmittance is limited to the visible spectrum (400 to 700 nanometers) and is measured as the percentage of light that is transmitted through the glass.
- Uplighting means any luminaire that directly or indirectly projects light above a horizontal plane passing through its lowest point.
- Wallpacks means luminaires placed along the outer walls of buildings. See illustrations.
(1) All land uses. A development permit is required to add or replace outdoor lights in the Gulf Beach or Bay Beach zones.(2) Single family and duplex dwelling units located on an individual lot. No development permit is required to reposition, replace or add outdoor lights in accordance with the standards of this section; however, an electrical permit may be required depending on the extent of the work.(3) Other residential uses, including motels, cottages and other resort housing (regardless of structure type) and non-residential land uses. A development permit is required to add, reposition, or replace outdoor lights mounted on poles higher than ten feet above the ground. In all other cases, no permit is required to add, reposition, or replace outdoor lights in accordance with the standards of this section.
(1) All exterior lighting shall be designed and installed to prevent glare and light trespass. Light shall not be allowed to cause glare affecting motorists, bicyclists, or other users of roads, driveways, and bicycle paths. Light shall not trespass over property lines.Only outdoor lights compliant with the standards of sections 126-998 and 126-999 and with the standards of sections 126-96 (for docks in the Bay Beach Zone) and 126-152 (for replacement lighting fixtures seaward of the 1974 Coastal Construction Control Line) are permitted in the Gulf Beach and Bay Beach zones.(2) Full cutoff fixtures must be used. Uplighting is prohibited. All outdoor lighting, including display, sign, building, parking lot, and aesthetic lighting, must use full cutoff fixtures, which shine light downward.(3) Functional equivalents allowed. Lights that are properly installed in an architectural space (such as under a porch roof or a roof overhang) which provides the functional equivalence of a full cutoff fixture, need not use full cutoff fixtures.(4) The illustrations contained in Appendix A to this section are intended to provide examples of fixtures and fixture positioning that comply (and that do not comply) with these standards, and are part of these regulations.(5) Mercury vapor lighting is prohibited. High pressure sodium lighting is permitted and encouraged.(6) Street lighting is, in general, inconsistent with Sanibel’s rural character. No street lights shall be installed or maintained on private streets, roads, and rights-of-way.(7) In residential settings, motion-detecting security lighting is permitted and encouraged in order to maximize safety, minimize overall illumination, and conserve energy.(8) Parking lot lights for nonresidential land uses shall, individually and in aggregation with other outdoor lights, not exceed a maximum site illumination of ten footcandles, measured at two feet above ground level.
(1) All temporary emergency lighting needed by the police or fire departments or other emergency services, as well as all vehicular luminaires.(2) Lighting for public streets, roads, and rights-of-way, except that such lighting shall be reviewed in accordance with section 78-7, applying the policies set forth in Ordinance No. 00-10, as well as general policy 9 in the Plan for Scenic Preservation of the Sanibel Plan: “In order to maintain the dark sky of this nonurban community, minimize outdoor lighting.”(3) All hazard warning luminaires required by federal or state regulatory agencies are exempt from the requirements of this subsection. Unless otherwise mandated, all luminaires used must be yellow/amber and must be shown to be as close as possible to the federally or state required minimum lumen output requirement for the specific task.(4) Holiday lighting, as specified in subsection 106-3(13).(5) The Sanibel Lighthouse light.
(1) Upon the effective date of Ordinance No. 00-10, all luminaires that direct light toward streets, bicycle paths, or parking lots that cause glare to motorists or cyclists shall be either shielded or redirected so that the luminaires do not continue to cause a potential hazard.(2) All luminaires, not identified in paragraph (1) above, shall be permitted to remain until January 1, 2015. By this date, all outdoor lights shall be brought into compliance with the standards of this section.However, any luminaire that replaces a lawfully existing luminaire, or any lawfully existing luminaire that is moved, must meet the standards of this section.
a. The point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach;b. Areas seaward of a frontal, or primary dune are not directly, indirectly, or cumulatively illuminated.
a. Set on a base which raises the source of light no higher than 48 inches off the ground; andb. Positioned or shielded so that the light is cast downward and the source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach and does not directly, indirectly, or cumulatively illuminate the beach.
a. The point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach; andb. Areas seaward of a frontal or primary dune are not directly, indirectly, or cumulatively illuminated.
a. Repositioning fixtures so that the point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is no longer visible from the beach;b. Replacing fixtures having an exposed light source with fixtures containing recessed light sources or shields;c. Replacing traditional light bulbs with yellow “bug” type bulbs not exceeding 25 watts;d. Replacing nondirectional fixtures with directional fixtures that point down and away from the beach;e. Replacing fixtures having transparent or translucent coverings with fixtures having opaque shields covering an arc of at least 180 degrees and extending an appropriate distance below the bottom edge of the fixture on the seaward side so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach;f. Replacing pole lamps with low-profile, low-level luminaries so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach;g. Replacing incandescent, fluorescent, and high intensity lighting with the lowest wattage low pressure sodium vapor lighting possible for the specific application;h. Planting or improving vegetation buffers between the light source and the beach to screen light from the beach;i. Permanently removing or temporarily disabling any fixture which cannot be brought into compliance with the provisions of this division during the nesting season.
a. Applying window tint or film which meets the transmittance values for tinted glass;b. Rearranging lamps and other moveable fixtures away from windows;c. Using window treatments, such as blinds and curtains, to shield interior lights from the beach; andd. Turning off unnecessary lights.