Castaic residents and businesses recently received a brochure from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger requiring them to take measures to combat light pollution.
The brochure listed Castaic as being in a Rural Outdoor Lighting District, which is an area of the county, considered rural, that is designated to promote and maintain dark skies for the health and enjoyment of individuals and wildlife.
“(L.A.) County is home to geographically diverse communities. Our natural resources and precious ecosystems are vital to the wellbeing of our residents and our neighborhoods,” read a statement from Barger that was printed on the brochures. “When we eliminate light pollution from our sky, it helps our environment and communities thrive.”
Barger represents the county’s 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley.
The brochure was sent to over 10,000 locations in the Castaic area and listed regulations that included requirements for residents to shield lights downward and away from the sky, angle light in a way that prevents light spilling onto adjacent properties and businesses to have exterior lights off by 10 p.m. unless controlled by a motion sensor.
The brochure being sent to residents was part of a collaboration between the Board of Supervisors, the county Regional Planning Department and the Los Angeles Astronomical Society to remind residents of the ROLD ordinance passed by the county in 2019.
County officials say it has benefits to human health and wildlife. Benefits touted in the brochure were that artificial light at night could disrupt internal clocks and hormonal systems, leading to health problems such as obesity, sleep disorders, depression, diabetes, breast cancer and more. Reducing it could also reduce all the symptoms associated with light pollution. The other added benefit mentioned was energy cost reduction.
“Research shows that much of artificial light at night is wasted by being poorly aimed, unnecessary or unshielded, wasting money and energy,” read the pamphlet.
Wildlife also sees a benefit, according to the brochure, as plants and animals are dependent on the Earth’s daily light and dark cycle for activities such as hunting and navigation and that artificial light could have deadly consequences for many species.
Astronomers are pleased about the brochure being sent out. Rod Kaufman, chair of the L.A. Astronomical Society, said they maintain an observatory in Lockwood Valley, adjacent to the Mt. Pinos observation area in the Los Padres National Forest.
“In fact, Castaic is the gateway to the dark skies that lie beyond just to the north,” said Kaufman. “So this is a very important area in order to reduce light pollution to hopefully prevent it from spreading further north into those more pristine areas of the Los Padres National Forest. Castaic is growing by leaps and bounds, so this is an excellent target area to hopefully bring to the attention of residents the importance of the ROLD ordinance and the role they can play in meeting it.”
Kaufman stressed the importance of reducing light pollution by reiterating its health and energy saving benefits and said it wasn’t just important for people now, but for unborn generations to come.
“Our association wants to make sure, and I believe the county and the Planning Department does as well, that we preserve that ecosystem for future generations. It’s not just me, it’s not just for a limited group observing outward out in the wild somewhere, so to speak. It’s for the benefit of those future generations as well,” said Kaufman. “We want them to be able to enjoy the nighttime sky, to be able to look out and see the Milky Way.”
To find more information on the ROLD ordinance and the brochure sent to Castaic residents and businesses, visit tinyurl.com/vzjvak9e.