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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Council Subcommittee Explores Options for Dark Sky Ordinance

• Staff Seeking Direction for RFP Proce

BY BILL KOENEKER
          
The Malibu City Council’s Zoning Ordinance Revisions and Code Enforcement Subcommittee, known by the acronym ZORACES, was scheduled to conduct a special meeting on a citywide lighting ordinance on Tuesday at 6 p.m. after the Malibu Surfside News went to press.
Last month, the city council had directed the proposal go to ZORACES for its recommendations and also directed the staff to begin the Request for Proposal process in order to draft what is being called a “comprehensive citywide lighting ordinance based on the most recent version of the Model Lighting Ordinance template prepared by the International Dark-Sky Association and Illuminating Engineering Society.”
In a staff report prepared for the subcommittee, which consists of Councilmembers John Sibert and Skylar Peak, planners were seeking input on what elements to include in the RFP scope.
“Which type of ordinance should staff focus on? Adopt the MLO with minor modifications or create a simplified lighting ordinance based on MLO standards or create an ordinance to strengthen lighting standards that is not based on MLO provisions?
Should street lighting standards be included for private and city-owned streets? Should enforcement and/or monetary penalties be included in an ordinance? What about budget consideration for additional staff or an ongoing consultant to assist in reviewing lighting plans for conformance with the ordinance?” the staff report states.
In the memo to subcommittee members, planners explain the several advantages to adopting some kind of version of the MLO.
 “The MLO would create a lighting overlay similar to a regular zoning map across the city with various areas divided up into lighting zones ranging from Lighting Zone O to LZ4. An applicant would first identify which lighting zone they were in and then look to the ordinance for the specific rules in that lighting zone. The advantage with this option is that lighting zones are applied on a site and/or use-specific context in lieu of generally applying lighting standards to land uses,” the staff report explains.
The advantages, according to city planners, is that the MLO already includes a solid ordinance framework and the model ordinance represents the most advanced and comprehensive lighting template available for municipal use.
One of the biggest downsides is that no other municipality has implemented the MLO in its entirety, according to municipal planners. It is unknown what modifications might be needed or how the MLO would function with respect to the city’s building code requirements.
“Staff is recommending this option be included in the RFP with the caveat that a conformance evaluation also be included in the scope for integration within the LCP and Malibu Municipal Code and functionality with the city’s building code requirements,” the staff report goes on to state.
Another option suggested by municipal planners is to rely on the MLO as a template, but in lieu of adopting the MLO as a package, create a simplified version that incorporates general elements of the MLO.
“This option would also remove the creation of a lighting overlay and instead, tie lighting zones to general land uses and/or broad geographical areas,” the staff report states.
Another tack to take, according to planners, would be to create an ordinance to strengthen lighting standards that is not based on MLO provisions.

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