General Plan Notes
Skykeepers founded
September 1, 1999

This page is dedicated to collection and analysys of City and County General Plans that address Light Pollution and/or Outdoor Lighting.

You will find here links to current General Plans, Public Comments, Proposed Wording and Meeting notes as well as full text on some items.
This page strikes new ground it that the Dark Sky community has generally payed no attention to General Plans.  In California and many other states the General Plan is the basis of all other regulations within the City or County.    In addition to the General Plan and Municipal Code that follows, the General Plan Draft is followed by an Environmental Impact Report.    A future page dedicated to Environmental Impact Reports is indevelopment and is referenced here as
List of General Plan & Environmental Impact Reports referencing lighting.

Related Quick Links -
Back to Outdoor Lighting Regulations in California
To the Environmental Impact Reports page.
How Does the General Plan Work?
Evory City and County is required by California State law to adopt a General Plan that provides the policy framework for the long-term physical development of the community. A General Plan expresses the community's development goals and provides specific public policy relative to the public and private uses of land in the community. In addition the General Plan links community values, visions and objectives with the way they utilize public and private land and other community resources. It is comprehensive and long-term, and provides the primary guidance for specific projects, policy actions or programs that may occur in the future.

Government Code Section 65560 requires an open space plan to include areas of outstanding scenic, historic, and cultural value, as well as scenic highway corridors. Further, general plan law (Government Code Section 65302.4) authorizes the general plan to express community intentions regarding urban form and design. These expressions may provide for specific measures to regulate relationships between buildings and between buildings and outdoor public areas, including streets.

A DRAFT Model Light Pollution and Radiation Safety Element for a General Plan
By David J. Dilworth HOPE Web Site.

List of General Plan & Environmental Impact Reports referencing lighting, is in additon to this page and contains Cities and Counties.

Known Cities and Counties currently working on General Plan Updates

Sacramento County  General Plan Update Website
City of Sacramento General Plan Update

Yolo County General Plan update

Counties With Reference to Outdoor Lighting or Light Pollution in the General Plan or GP review comments.

El Dorado Co. -- See List of General Plan & Environmental Impact Reports referencing lighting.

Kern Co. --  General Plan, Land Use, Conservation, and Open Space Element (.pdf link)  --   (see 1.10.7 Light and Glare)
Lassen Co. --  General Plan & Ordinance References (.pdf  68k) -- Very Good

Nevada Co.  -- General Plan (.pdf)  adopted 1996
Chapter 18: Aesthetics    Volume I - Page 193
Habitats throughout the county have been modified by human activity.  The ... noise and night lighting have served to reduce the habitat
values throughout the area. ...
Chapter 18: Aesthetics    Volume I - Page 193 (.pdf)
Policy 18.10 New and replacement road system lighting shall utilize fixtures and light sources that minimize night-time light pollution, without compromising traffic safety.
Policy 18.11    New Commercial, Industrial and Multiple Family development shall utilize fixtures and light sources that minimize night time light pollution.

Riverside Co. -
County of Riverside General Plan - Hearing Draft   ( link to page.pdf )
Western Coachella Valley Area Plan
Light Pollution
The continued growth of urban activities throughout the Valley has many consequences. One of the attractions for residents is the brilliance of the
nighttime sky on clear nights, unencumbered by lighting scattered over a large urban area. Wildlife habitat areas can also be negatively impacted by artificial
lighting. As development continues to encroach from established urban cores into both rural and open space areas, the effect of nighttime lighting on
star-gazing and open space areas will become more pronounced.  Furthermore, the Mount Palomar Observatory, located in San Diego County,
requires darkness so that the night sky can be viewed clearly. The presence of the observatory necessitates unique nighttime lighting standards in several areas of Riverside County, including a relatively small portion in the southernmost corner of the Western Coachella Valley Area Plan (see Figure 5, Mount Palomar Nighttime Lighting Policy). The following policies are intended to limit light leakage and spillage that may obstruct or hinder the view.
WCVAP 11.1
Require the inclusion of outdoor lighting features that would minimize the effects on the nighttime sky and wildlife habitat areas.
WCVAP 11.2
Adhere to the lighting requirements of the County Ordinance Regulating Light Pollution for standards that are intended to limit light leakage and spillage that may interfere with the operations of the Palomar Observatory.

Sacramento Co. -

Sacramento County  General Plan Update Website
Sacramento County Department of Environmental Review and Assessment (DERA)

Proposed  Land Use Element,  Page 54 (.pdf 4.1MB)  May 30, 2007
Objective: Reduced levels of light pollution in both new and existing communities.
Intent: Nighttime lighting provides safety and comfort to communities and their residents, but excess and misdirected light creates the phenomenon known as light pollution. An increasing problem for metropolitan areas, light pollution is light not targeted for a specific task, creating an unhealthy and unsightly environment. This light originates from a number of sources including interior and exterior lighting on buildings, lights associated with advertising, streetlights, sporting venues and shopping centers. There are number of environmental, ecological, quality of life, and human health implications associated with light pollution. Excess nighttime light wastes energy and harms the integrity of ecosystems. Artificial light interrupts the biological clock of organisms that depend on light (or lack thereof) to trigger behavioral activities. Upward-directed light creates skyglow above cities, impairing the view of the night sky, stars and planets. As Sacramento County continues to grow, efforts can be taken to reduce excess and inappropriate light on the surrounding social and biological environment by ensuring lighting structures are designed to limit the distribution of forward light, backlight and uplight.
LU-33. Strive to achieve a natural nighttime environment and an uncompromised public view of the night sky by reducing light pollution.
Implementation Measure:
A. Address and incorporate outdoor lighting measures in any Zoning Code update, community and specific plans, corridor plans, district plans, transit station plans or any other planning programs.

City of Sacramento General Plan Update

San Diego Co. --  General Plan Conservation Element CHAPTER 7 ASTRONOMICAL DARK SKY  Page X-85
"FINDING 6 Light pollution is cumulative in that the sky brightness that already exists is
increased by each new source. It is incorrect to say that a little additional light will be
lost in the glow that presently exists -- it will simply add to it."

Sonoma Co. 
-- See List of General Plan & Environmental Impact Reports referencing lighting.

Various Cities
With Reference to Outdoor Lighting or Light Pollution in the General Plan or GP review comments.-- See List of General Plan & Environmental Impact Reports referencing lighting.

Crescent City - General Plan Final EIR see page 6-32 

Goleta    -  General Plan  Visual and Historic Resources Eelement (Ref. Light Pollution) Page 6.16 (.pdf)
VH 4.12 Lighting. [GP] Outdoor lighting fixtures shall be designed, located, aimed downward
or toward structures (if properly shielded), retrofitted if feasible, and maintained in
order to prevent over-lighting, energy waste, glare, light trespass, and sky glow. The
following standards shall apply:
a. Outdoor lighting shall be the minimum number of fixtures and intensity needed
for the intended purpose. Fixtures shall be fully shielded and have full cut off
lights to minimize visibility from public viewing areas and prevent light pollution
into residential areas or other sensitive uses such as wildlife habitats or migration
b. Direct upward light emission shall be avoided to protect views of the night sky.
c. Light fixtures used in new development shall be appropriate to the architectural
style and scale and compatible with the surrounding area.
VH-IA-2 ... The Design Guidelines should also address outdoor lighting, including quality and quantity
of illumination levels, glare, light pollution, energy efficiency, safety, and security.

City of Hollister , San Benito Co
Hollister  General Plan see POLICIES 64, 66, 67 page 97
General Plan,  POLICIES 64, 66, 67 page 97
Visual Qualities
64. Hollister shall review all development applications to determine the visual impacts associated
with the proposed development, and shall ensure that all adverse visual impacts are mitigated
to the maximum extent feasible prior to granting development approval. (III.M)

65. Hollister shall require that new utility and distribution lines into individual development
projects be placed underground. (SAP)

66. Hollister shall require those proposing new development to use high-pressure sodium (HPS)
lighting for all street, pathway and parking lighting. (SAP)

67. Hollister shall require those proposing new development to fully shield and install all outdoor
lighting fixtures so that no light is emitted above the horizontal plane running through the top
of the source of illumination. (SAP)

Los Angeles Co.
City of Los Angeles General Plan
Plans & Policies
Formulate/update street lighting plans to develop an inventory of nighttime visibility requirements for all streets in Los Angeles. Consider the following actions when developing/updating these plans:
a. Correlate needs for nighttime vision with approved standards;
b. Correlate existing conditions with the established needs;
c. Establish the long term objectives for improvement of lighting consistent with City street improvement policies;
d. Define and promote a Street Lighting Equipment Selection Policy to assure due process and maximum choice for communities of special street light equipment subject to their willingness to pay. Replace standard street lights and develop strategies to preserve historic street lights while replacing their original lumens with more energy efficient lights;
e. Participate in national and international studies and programs relating to light use, management and control;
f. Develop a data base of recommendations and model regulations which can be applied in various communities within Los Angeles; and
g. Develop recommendations for financing and enforcing regulations for control of obtrusive light.

When formulating/updating plans, determine appropriate regulations for private lighting to minimize or eliminate light pollution, light trespass and glare (obtrusive light).
Schedule:  Ongoing
Responsibility: Departmentof Public Works (Bureau of Street Lighting)

Kings County
Lemoore -
Summary of Lemoore General Plan Update 2030
Steering Committee Meeting #5 Wednesday, May 9, 2007
"There was general support expressed for a policy regarding a dark sky ordinance and the general reduction of light pollution. There was also support express for bringing store fronts to the street, and moving parking to the back."

Town of Mammoth Lakes
General Plan Update February 2007
Community Design
Night Sky, Light Pollution and Glare 5.
Goal: Eliminate glare and minimize light pollution to preserve views of stars and the night sky.
A. Policy: Require outdoor light fixtures to be shielded and down-directed so as to minimize glare and light trespass.
B. Policy: Enforce removal, replacement or retrofit of non-shielded or non-down-directed light fixtures that contribute to light pollution.
C. Policy: Improve pedestrian safety by eliminating glare for motorists through use of non-glare roadway lighting. Light fixture’s source of illumination shall not be readily visible at a distance. Number of fixtures used shall be adequate to evenly illuminate for pedestrian safety.
1. Action: Identify sources of glare and light pollution in the town of Mammoth Lakes, and implement a program to work with property owners to retrofit, redirect, remove, or replace out-of-compliance fixtures.
2. Action: Develop community partnerships for educational outreach programs to increase conformance with outdoor lighting requirements.
3. Action: Install new roadway lighting, and replace existing lighting with fixtures that eliminate glare without compromising safety.

Mendocino Co.
Policies recommended for inclusion in the Draft General Plan Outline
Response:. Staff agrees that a new sub section on light pollution and usage should be included in the. General Plan. Suggested Modifications: ...

Oxnard   -  General Plan Update starting  May 1, 2007
The GP has "more lighting", "more lighting", and nothing about night time habitat or preserving the night sky.
Search using - "lighting" filetype:pdf

General Plan Update Notes (.pdf)

Goals, Policies, and Actions from the 1996 General Plan Circulation Element
GOAL E: Provide for the safety and convenience of pedestrian circulation.
2. The City may consider night lighting and determine the need for the provision of additional lighting as needed for safety.
Goals, Policies, and Actions from the 1996 General Plan Public Utilities and Facilities Element
GOAL E: Provide proper lighting for public safety.
1. Maintain at least current levels of illumination.
2. Ensure timely maintenance of street lights.
GOAL E: Provide proper lighting for public safety.
1. The City will evaluate purchasing street lights and City or contract maintenance to improve maintenance and decrease cost of street lights
2. The City will solicit input from residents on the adequacy of street lighting.
Questions/ Issues:
1. Are there statements still applicable and relevant?
2. What about policies on possible adverse impacts, such as light pollution or loss of privacy? (should have policies to discourage excessive levels of lighting, use energy efficient lighting, etc.)
3. What about the design of street light fixtures?
4. What are the implications of the City purchasing street lights (Action 1) from PG&E?

Seaside  General Plan August 2004  Page COS-21 and  COS-35
Page COS-21
Viewing the wonders of the night sky is a rapidly disappearing natural heritage. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see the planets, stars, and Milky Way without traveling to locations far from home. Even truly remote dark locations are becoming scarce.  ...
Page COS-35
The protection of night skies in Monterey County is important to astrological research and to general viewing of the galaxy. Measures to reduce light pollution will also reduce energy consumption. The City can participate in preserving night skies.
Goal COS-8: Encourage exterior lighting that preserves night skies.
Policy COS 8.1: Participate in local and regional efforts to reduce light pollution of night skies.
Implementation Plan COS-8.1.1 Shielded Street Lights. The City Shall continue to implement its policy to require that all new street lights placed in the public right-of-way be fully shielded.  Responsible Agency/Department: Public Works, Community Development
Funding Source: General Fund, development fees  Time Frame: Ongoing

Search Notes - [General Plan EIR] , [General Plan EIR  +"light Pollution"]


State of California Regulations Relating to General Plans

Planning Links
Relating to General Plans

General notes regarding General Plans
General Plans Overview, HOPE Web Site.

Back to Outdoor Lighting Regulations in California

References -
Planning - LUPIN - California Land Use Planning Information Network
Planning - Directory of California Local Planning Agencies 1999

County Government - California State Association of Counties
California Counties' Websites - California State Association of Counties
County Maps - - California State Association of Counties
County Maps and links to County Administration Web Sites, by California Land Surveyors Association

City Government - League of California Cities
City Website Links - California Cities with websites

Back to Outdoor Lighting Regulations in California

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