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Call for Anecdotes: Streetlamp Stories
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dje7
Mueller Community

Posts: 81
Joined on March 2nd, 2009
Light Pollution Report to NCC
by dje7 on September 5th, 2009

See also,

http://www.lumec.com/products/luminaires/
http://www.beaconproducts.com/products_visual.html

I think the Civil Twilight Design Collective has a streetlamp solution which modifies output based on the amount of ambient moonlight - causing streetlights to dim when the moon is waxing and brighten when the moon is waning. They're called "lunar resonant streetlights.

Also LIFI has an LED lamp solution, but I can't tell if it would work as a retrofit product or not, or if it would be part of a solution.
http://www.lifi.com/dynamic/display.php/71

James Parker with Austin Energy may be another person to speak with.

- Daniel Estabrook
 
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dhs
Mueller Community

Posts: 179
Joined on January 5th, 2009
Light Pollution Report to NCC
by dhs on September 6th, 2009

My 2 cents (that may not have been included in the report):

The problem really isn't that the lights themselves are too bright, it's that they are too close - too close to the houses and too close together. In driving around Austin the last couple of months, I've taken more notice of light pole placement than I would have previously thought a reasonable person would do, and the light poles in Mueller are definitely far closer to the houses.

This is partly a function of the shallow front yards and partly a function of the design of the Mueller poles which don't protrude over the street. The Mueller poles are also much closer together - in most comparable neighborhoods (Rosedale, Hyde Park, Cherrywood, etc), the light poles are mainly placed at intersections. By comparison, there are about 12 light poles on my block (Mattie Street between Antone and Tom Miller), and there are 4 light poles within 60 feet of my property, and a fifth one within 80 feet.

I think there's an easy short term solution that should satisfy most residents. Replace the current globes with variably frosted globes, so that much (50%?) of the light on the home side of the light pole is filtered out. This would keep the streets as bright as they are, and I believe that the sidewalks would still be well illuminated as well.

Installing physical shades on the poles as has been suggested would be more expensive and would force a sharp light-dark distinction that would be neither effective or becoming. And depending on the trees to shield the houses will not be effective for the lights that are the biggest problem - those directly in front of a house.

A longer term solution will probably involve a different design for the lights themselves, and increased spacing between the lights, but this is neither fiscally or politically convenient for the existing homes. (It's easier to remove a nuisance than to move it.)

Good luck, sloneycho, and thanks for making the effort.

Doug
 
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sloneycho
Mueller Community

Posts: 435
Joined on October 3rd, 2008
Light Pollution meeting with NCC
by sloneycho on September 9th, 2009

Bobrobert and I met with the NCC today. It was quite an amicable meeting, and I believe that they understand the issues that we brought to the table. Here are the highlights, but my nervousness may have affected my impression of what was actually communicated. Jennifer Harvey was taking real-time notes.

* Our requests are out of the ordinary. The NCC is set up to make sure plans for new construction meet the standards set forth in the Mueller Design Book. Design Book revisions are usually driven by new construction requests, not issues with existing construction.

* The residential lighting design was driven by the fixture options that Austin Energy provided pre-2005. The Town Lake fixture was chosen as the best of what was offered.

* Points made by fellow Muellerites concerning fixture spacing and lighting color were addressed as appropriate design decisions given the fixture and bulb specifications, and expected mature tree canopy.

* I was asked about the city ordinance that would not have allowed the Town Lake fixture to be deployed in a residential zoning district. I did not have the ordinance information with me, but sent it to Jennifer Harvey after the meeting. It's the same one I mentioned here http://www.citicite.com/mueller/index.php?module=Forums&op=posts&ForumID=5&TopicID=1400&page=6#Post9617.

* The Town Lake fixture is designed to leak no more than 2% of its light output above the horizontal plane.

* I asked if the Town Lake fixture was being deployed in other Austin residential neighborhoods. Unknown.

* I asked if Austin had any other neighborhoods where the streetlamps were so close to front porches. Unlikely.

* I pointed out that street lighting technology has advanced since the Design Book was written, and that Mueller should leverage the fact that Austin Energy is participating in the LED City initiative to come up with an innovative solution to our unique public lighting situation.

* Nobody on the NCC expressed concern with adapting the streetlamp in front of our home to take into consideration Bobrobert's disability, but Austin Energy has some pretty rigorous light engineering requirements that must be worked through.

* The NCC offered to have the bulb removed from our streetlamp. I accepted the offer only on a temporary basis, and requested that a sign be placed on the pole to indicate that the streetlamp was intentionally dark to avoid well intentioned problem reporting to Austin Energy.

* I noted that three months have passed since we first requested an adjustment to the streetlamp, and received a soft commitment to have the bulb removed within 2-7 days.

* The NCC (Catellus?) will continue to work with Austin Energy on improving the light pollution problem. They mentioned:
- researching a permanent shielding solution for the streetlamp in front of our home
- researching a better night-sky shield for the next development phase
- researching a better fixture choice for the phases beyond that

* I requested updates as the research progresses. Jennifer Harvey is my continued point of contact.

---

Nobody needs to fear (or hope) that the currently deployed street lighting, other than the one in front of my home, will be changed anytime soon. I got the impression that the NCC had read the Streetlamp Stories appendix to the report, and is well aware of the differing opinions on the current lighting.
 
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danx111
Mueller Community

Posts: 1151
Joined on November 25th, 2008
Light Pollution meeting with NCC
by danx111 on September 10th, 2009

Nice job. This should serve as an example of how to get things done at Mueller:
identify the problem, collect data, present alternatives
 
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HornsFan
Mueller Community

Posts: 104
Joined on August 13th, 2008
Light Pollution meeting with NCC
by HornsFan on September 10th, 2009

Steve,

When I left for work this morning there was an Austin Energy truck and employee in front of your home scoping out the situation. I assumed he was there to remove the bulb. Hopefully his work order was in sync with your request!

Guess will see tonight.

Craig
 
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HornsFan
Mueller Community

Posts: 104
Joined on August 13th, 2008
The Dark Side of the Street
by HornsFan on September 11th, 2009

Looks like your light bulb was removed. Did it help?
 
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sloneycho
Mueller Community

Posts: 435
Joined on October 3rd, 2008
The Dark Side of the Street
by sloneycho on September 11th, 2009

Very pleased, indeed! Despite the drizzle, Bobrobert made his way to the porch to bask in the lack of glow -- no hat required!

We are starting to think about some interesting porch lighting design, and you can bet we will have the spookiest house in the neighborhood come Halloween!
 
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HornsFan
Mueller Community

Posts: 104
Joined on August 13th, 2008
The Dark Side of the Street
by HornsFan on September 11th, 2009

Gee, I kind of miss the unibomber look!
 
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sloneycho
Mueller Community

Posts: 435
Joined on October 3rd, 2008
The Dark Side of the Street
by sloneycho on September 11th, 2009

Bobrobert will still be doing his best Unibomber impression, without the acts of violence and associated terror, during daylight hours.

The promised sign appeared on our streetlamp today.

Image
 
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sloneycho
Mueller Community

Posts: 435
Joined on October 3rd, 2008
The Dark Side of the Street
by sloneycho on September 12th, 2009

... and thanks to the neighbors who stopped by the porch Friday evening. We appreciate your support and friendship!
 
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