I’ve been putting off writing this column because I’m not 100 percent sure what I want to say.
I decided several days ago I was going to write about the city’s proposed lighting ordinance, but after thinking about it for quite a while, I am still a little torn. There are parts of the ordinance I really like, and there are parts that concern me. My feelings are not near as strong as many in the community, but I do have some thoughts.
In general, I like the idea of limiting light pollution. My house backs up to Page Airport. When we first moved in, the lights at the airport, which have to run all night, every night for safety reasons, were so bright you couldn’t see the stars overhead.
Several times I drove at night out to the Rimview Trail just to look at the lights in the dark. But sometime last year the lights went off. And they stayed off for a while. When they came back on, something had changed. Now I assume they put new bulbs in them that met the safety standards without filling the sky with extra light. I can now see the stars from my back yard, and it’s pretty cool.
So in general, I like the idea of dark skies. It’s nice to be anywhere in town and to be able to see the stars, the moon, planets. After living in Tucson, where a decent dark view of the sky was an hour away, I really like it.
But I also have some concerns. The element I fear the most in the new ordinance is a requirement that all business lights, inside and outside a business, be turned off by 10 p.m. or an hour after the business closes.
For years while working with police, I have heard the same story over and over. To protect your home, car or business, the best thing you can do is, first, lock your door and, second, have a light on.
Bad guys who want to steal or vandalize almost always look for the darkest area. Good lighting is one of the cheapest and best ways to deter crime. I don’t think that’s really a controversial statement.
Having said that, the Page Police Department has signed off on the ordinance. The officers have said they aren’t concerned the lack of lights will lead to an increase in crime. They certainly know this area much better than I do so I will defer to their judgment on this issue.
Originally, I was alarmed that the ordinance required private individuals and business owners to put in new lights, but with a seven-year window to comply, that’s probably reasonable.
There is a lot of good with this ordinance. The underlying goal is one that is good. But there are still a lot of questions. I’m glad the city council voted to have a public hearing before making a final decision, although it sounds like they didn’t have much of a choice.
I now hope before they vote and make this law, they listen to the people, answer as many questions as they can and bring the meaning of this ordinance into the light. I’m certain there are many people in the community just like me. They like a lot of what this proposed law would accomplish, but they have a lot of questions they would like answered before it becomes permanent.