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Turn off the Frikking Lights

March 28, 2013

I’ve had it with people trying to turn the mountains into mini-Burbank.  When I first moved here 10 years ago, my street was so lovely & dark, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face and the stars were brilliant & amazing. Now the lights on every street are so bright you can read by them. So for awhile I thought about starting some kind of campaign to have our Dark Sky Ordinance enforced. I posted on a local board, & here are some representative samples of what I got. There’s no escaping projection.

Idiot #1: I’m just curious…if your neighbor decided they didn’t like you having a dog in your yard, or say they didn’t like you playing music in your own yard, do they have a right to stop you? Are lights on your neighbors house any different? Please don’t attack me…I am asking a legitimate question. When do we get to tell our neighbor what they can or cannot do, and when are we just overstepping our bounds? We have a neighbor that leaves the lights on at his parking pad, when he is here. We have bears…he wants to see what he’s approaching. He’s been broken into and robbed. He wants to see who’s around his house. I understand. But those lights shine in my bedroom. My solution…curtains.

Me: “When do we get to tell our neighbor what they can or cannot do?” When there are laws against that behavior. If I exceed the limits imposed by the county noise ordinance, for example (45 dB at night, 55 during the day), then they have a right to complain about me. If allow my dogs to bark continually for hour after hour, then they can report me to Animal Control. But I don’t do any of those things, because I am a considerate neighbor. Part of that consideration is understanding that everyone gets to do things once in awhile. But you can’t keep doing things day in, day out, night after night, against which laws are in place for a reason.

There is a light ordinance in place. I’m not going to let my house become a curtained prison in which I am prevented from viewing at my leisure the main thing I came to the mountains for, just because some idiot is afraid of the dark. And I am within my legal rights to prevent it.

If someone moves to the mountains because they think it is Haus of Cuteness and then, once they get here, see that it is darker and scarier in some ways than the places they are used to, then they should 1) do what they can to assuage all their insecurities within the bounds of what the law allows, and if that doesn’t work, then 2) not let the door hit them in the ass.

Idiot #1: Do you do much viewing while you sleep? If you’re not sleeping, why does it matter if you see your neighbors lights?

In the evening, before I go to sleep, is when I do my star-gazing.

I agree that if there is an ordinance, it should be enforced. But it sounds like people want to accomplish more than just enforce the current laws. I’m asking where is that line drawn?

No, I don’t want to accomplish more. I want the current laws to be enforced, which are adequate. If they are enforced, and it still bothers me, then the door should not hit ME in the ass.

Idiot #1: BTW…you jumped to name calling pretty quickly. Idiot? Really? You’re an idiot if you don’t want to be startled by bears or intruders, both of which you have actually had at your home? I think you’re an idiot if you ignore these hazards!

Ok, “…because some incredibly frightened person is afraid of the dark.” But personally, I think he should have gotten over it by now. He can move next to a neighbor this sort of thing doesn’t bother and who won’t ask for the laws to be enforced, or he can leave the mountain, or he can work within the legal limits already in place. Those are the choices. Period. Hey, I’m just the messenger.

& BTW, I asked this guy twice, nicely & in person, to be more considerate with the multiple 100-watt floodlights. He completely blew me off, turned on the lights earlier & left them on longer, just to be an asshole.. Finally I called the sheriff, & that worked. He’s been turning them off before they go to bed. At least there’s that. But they are still too bright while they are on, & no, sleeping in the front of the house isn’t a possibility because there isn’t a room in the front of the house my bed will fit into, not to mention, I shouldn’t have to rearrange my entire life to accommodate some incredibly frightened person who is breaking the law.

I have lived here for 10 years, had bears and coyotes wander around the front my house, & it doesn’t bother me. As for intruders, I haven’t had one. But again: The point is that you can take care of these fears within the bounds of the law. There are no exemptions for “really scared” or “have been robbed before.” The laws were created with all this in mind. My problem is selective and non-enforcement of existing law.

Idiot #1: Gotten over it by now”?! Considering Dorner was just on all our proverbial doorsteps, I find this rather insensitive! My neighbors break-in was last summer. I know I’m not over that, let alone don’t expect him to be. But that aside…I doubt most people are even aware of the ordinance, so I think public awareness is a first step, and enforcement is the second. Personally, I have motion sensors outside, because then I know to pay attention if the lights come one.

My neighbor started doing this before Dorner was an issue. I have never seen a person so addicted to lights. But I get now that we are talking about you, not my neighbor. It doesn’t change anything. If someone wants to start a thread that says we need a new ordinance allowing all the lights to be twice as bright because of Dorner, they are welcome to do that. Yes, awareness is a first step.

Idiot #1: Ummm…no…we are not talking about me. We are talking about the valley as a whole. I already said that I agree a law in existence needs to be enforce. I apologize for derailing the conversation. Please resume on your original mission.

Idiot #2: It is reasonable to me that if you have light entering your bedroom late at night to glose the shades. I had a similar problem when I worked nights with daylight entering my room. I put tinfoil in the offending window. Guess I could have had the cops go after God.

You must be joking. If I were a day sleeper, I would totally agree. I would use shades rather than call the cops to force god to put the sun out. But this is at night, when it is supposed to be dark other than the natural light from the moon.So no, I shouldn’t have to use blackout shades to sleep at night, which will cause me to miss the moonlight, then wake up in pitch darkness and also miss the natural light coming from the sun.

I also think this and some other comments would be more appropriate if I were considering having a Dark Sky Ordinance implemented for the first time. Then we could have the argument over whether I have a right to have it dark when it’s dark and light when it’s light.

But we’re past that. There already IS an ordinance, and I already DO have that right, and the ordinance has been in place for almost a decade. Obviously it has been an important enough issue to enough people to have that county ordinance passed in the first place. So I’m not going to get hung up arguing about the merits of Shall we have it dark when it’s dark or light when it’s light? That question has already been answered by the ordinance itself. My only concern is that it is selectively enforced or not enforced at all–and I’m not talking about sheriffs driving around randomly busting people, I’m talking about responding to people making a specific request that an ordinance that is on the books be enforced.

I thought if there was enough support for some kind of presentation to whatever governing body would be able to deal with that, I would be willing to lead the charge. But I’m beginning to think it’s going to be every wo/man for him/herself. So I don’t know.

Show of Support #1: I think you have a valid concern. There is an ordinance. If there are lights in your immediate area that infringe on your rights under the ordinance, then I believe you should file your concern with the proper authorities. Do not allow any bullying from anyone deter you from doing so, if you feel that is what is right for you and your family.

Idiot #1: Bullying? What bullying? I posed a question. Consider it or ignore it. Your choice.

Now that we are crystal clear that I was not talking about you or your neighbor, I will say again: my neighbor is an idiot who, at 50-something, should have gotten over being afraid of the dark.

When I said “I get that we are talking about you” in a later post, it was because of your extreme reaction to that, which a person usually has when she feels it is she who is actually being talked about, not the person who is being named in the conversation. It’s called “projection,” and it’s when one ascribes one’s own feelings about something to another person and acts as though that person had said it, when it actually came from inside. (I’m being careful to say “one” here and not “you,” lest I hasten that process.) I think that if, inside, you did not feel like a bully, you wouldn’t have reacted so to [show of support #1]’s post.

I did feel attacked at moments during that exchange yesterday. I took it as good practice for the kind of stuff that was going to be thrown at me if I were to take this into a wider arena. But I also came away feeling I have to choose those types of battles wisely. I don’t have the energy to patiently explain the crux of the issue over & over again to the public at large. (For the record, here it is one last time: Selective enforcement, not “shall we have an ordinance.”) At least, not for an issue like this. I’ll do it to stop vivisection of lab animals or what have you, but it’s a waste of my energy to feel as I felt at the end of our exchange for an issue I can deal with in another way. I’d rather not set myself up to be caught in the crossfire between a lot of people and themselves. It’s just too painful for me personally. I don’t have the stoicism that politicians must have.

Show of Support #2: The dark is part of the beauty of our mountains. Our street has been adamant that we don’t want street lights and we have all put in motion-sensor lights. Living on a hillside, I setup my telescope out front. It takes but a second to turn-off my lights. Also, living on a hillside eliminates folks from looking in my bedroom windows. I don’t close the blinds because I like the dawn. A house across from me is often rented out and the renters often would have every exterior light on..all night. I’ve spoken to the owner and he does tell the folks to kill those lights but it doesn’t always work. This is Big Bear..we have blizzards, mountains,curvey roads, forests, wild animals, and beatiful dark skies. That is why I’m here…how about you?

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