BANDON — The city manager says voters’ rejection of a “dark sky” law puts the issue to rest.
“Obviously the voters have said they don’t want the outdoor lighting regulations, so the council will have to repeal the ordinance,” Matt Winkel said. “We weren’t enforcing it anyway, because we knew it was going on to the ballot and we don’t have a lot of development going on right now where people are putting in outdoor lights.”
Voters on Tuesday rejected the outdoor lighting rules 524-419. Turnout among Bandon’s 1,807 registered voters was 52.2 percent.
“I think this shows that the City Council is slightly out of touch with the voting population,” said Bandon resident Rob Taylor, who spearheaded the petition drive for a special election.
“I also believe the reason we won is that people are tired of more regulations,” he said.
The City Council passed the ordinance 5-1 last year, with Councilor Chris Powell opposed and councilors Brian Vick, Mike Claassen, Geri Procetto, Nancy Drew and Claudine Hundhausen in favor.
Winkel said he had no idea how the election would go. People from both sides canvassed before the election. Taylor said he handed out between 400 and 500 flyers.
“When I was out, I spoke with quite a few people and I was basically getting that people were really upset and asking, ‘Do we really need more laws?’” Taylor said.
The proposed regulations would have required that all new street lights, yard lights, porch lights and other outdoor lighting be shielded to shine downward.
Winkel said the city would have enforced the ordinance by requiring new construction plans to meet the code. Beyond that, the ordinance would have been enforced when someone reported a violation. The regulations would not have affected pre-existing lights.
Tuesday’s vote disappointed Winkel.
“I think this would have resulted in nicer lighting for the community and would have been a better tool to protect people from lights shining into their bedroom windows,” he said. “It would have slowly evolved, but there’s no ‘Where do we go from here?’ at this point. I think the voters have made their wishes clear, so we won’t do it.”
But the city will continue applying the “dark sky” philosophy to its own fixtures.
“For the last five to six years, all the lighting we’ve been installing for the city is dark sky compliant with full cutoff fixtures,” he said. “That’s all we buy anymore.”