September 20, 2015

The ASRB does not want interior lighting to disturb nocturnal animals or neighbors. They talk about wanting dark skies and avoidance of light pollution. The Town Code only addresses outdoor lighting. So, without relevant objective standards, the ASRB is limiting the number of windows in houses thus forcing a change to the design and the use of the home and its internal aesthetics. This is an intrusion that is way beyond the pale.

We agree that some common sense guidelines on neighboring property privacy are a good thing. But we should keep in mind that people rarely have on all the lights of a house on at one time and they turn off the lights when they go to bed. Neighbors concerned about privacy can address the concerns themselves with various treatments on their own windows. What is wrong with using shutters, drapes, curtains or shades if you don’t want people to see in to your house or you don’t want to look into their homes.

We like dark skies and starry nights. But regulation should be limited to outdoor lighting and not home design. Even organizations dedicated to dark skies only talk about outdoor lighting. We don’t think the comfort of nocturnal critters should be more important than the comfort of homeowners in the design of their home.

“The ASRB continues to have concerns with the potential impacts of the lighting on dark night skies.” They want to reduce “glazing”. The ASRB defies “glare” as light emission on dark night skies which creates light pollution. There is no guideline as to how much “glare” is acceptable. The test of too much possible light is in the eye of the beholder.

The Residential Design Guidelines do say this: “c. Consider privacy impacts on neighbors should be addressed with particular attention to the location, orientation, and extent of windows and decks. Position and orient large windows and decks to minimize sight lines into neighbors’ homes or patios, and to minimize night lighting impacts (ref. GP LU1.2 & GP LU1.4).” But there are no standards. Zoning Codes in Woodside ONLY address outdoor lighting. The ASRB members apparently are trying to use outdoor lighting codes to control indoor lights.

We were mooved to howl about this because it appears to be an on-going issue. For example, at both the special meeting on January 26, 2015 and the meeting of April 6th 2015, they discussed amount of glazing. Concern was expressed not only on the impact on neighbors but also concern about the impact on wildlife even with regard to a home in the most heavily populated area of Woodside. Several of the more recent ASRB applicants have also had to deal with this impacting design.

The ASRB is known to COWs familiar with its practices as being arbitrary and imposing their taste and preferences on applicants. Their application of this guideline is a good example.

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