YACHATS – With a major compromise, Yachats City Council gave preliminary approval to a pending outdoor lighting ordinance during the April 1st city council meeting held virtually through Zoom.
After a long and public hearing and discussion on the matter, Councilor Ann Stott proposed a compromise that would help the Council overcome its major stumbling block on regulations – the proposed ban on marine lighting.
For the purposes of the regulation, marine lighting is light that illuminates the ocean near the surf, which some say is detrimental to the environment and its people, such as the lighting that illuminates the beaches on the property of three of most City Illuminated Popular Accommodation Destinations – The Adobe Resort, as well as the Fireside Motel and Overleaf Lodge.
After hearing the management at Fireside / Overleaf and the townspeople for and against a complete ban on marine lighting, the council voted 3: 1 to pass the lighting ordinance. Instead of banning marine lighting altogether, they limited their use to 9 p.m. during standard time and 11 p.m. during summer time. New marine lighting is prohibited.
Mayor Leslie Vaaler was the only vote against the passing of the ordinance, while the city’s newest councilor, Anthony Muirhead, abstained from discussion and voting, citing his conflict of interest as Adobe general manager. In November, prior to his appointment to the council earlier this year, Muirhead spoke out on behalf of Adobe against the ban on marine lighting.
During the discussion last week, the advice heard from Drew Roslund, an owner of Fireside and Overleaf and an outspoken critic of the proposed ban on marine lighting. He told the city council that his businesses’ marine lighting attracts guests, who contribute about 90 percent of the revenue to the city’s general fund through temporary lodging taxes and other funds.
“The guests come to Yachats because of the ocean,” Roslund told the council. “A lot of them come for a night or two a year, and when they come for one night, especially in winter, just being able to enjoy the visual aspect of the ocean for a few hours in the morning is not a great experience for you. We have the light out there and the main function of that light is to illuminate the ocean to enhance the experience for people who come to yachats. “
The city’s lighting ordinance was developed and refined several times by the Yachats Planning Commission after the first versions were sent back to the commission by the city council for adjustment. The aim was to focus outdoor lighting in the city in order to promote health, safety and productivity, improve the view of the night sky and minimize the effects of “house lighting”.
Prior to the vote, Vaaler noted that discussions on marine lighting did not strike a balance in terms of the implicit environmental effects of artificial light on aquaculture.
“In my opinion, we didn’t discuss the environmental impact in a very balanced way,” she said. “We can pile up articles from people who say there is an environmental impact and I am not saying they are wrong, but no articles have been searched that have tried to say that there are fewer bans that could be made, who could protect our environment. “
Lance Bloch, chairman of the city’s planning commission, possibly suspicious of the council, which re-sent the proposed regulation back to the commission, gave its two cents worth.
“I put it on you,” he told the council. “Decide what you want to do, but I urge you to take action on the entire lighting ordinance.”
John Moore, who served as mayor until earlier this year, believed the planning commission exceeded its limits on marine lighting after commending the commission for its ability to tackle the annoying lighting. He compared people moving near an existing hotel or motel with bright outdoor lighting and complained about it to those who might be moving near an airport and then have problems with the noise level.
Moore also noted that each of the hotels and motels with lighting issues existed long before any of the council or planning committee members moved into the community.
“Four of you have moved to Yachats in the past six years,” he told the council. “Greg (Scott) was here the longest, but even when Greg moved here, those lights from the Overleaf, Fireside and Adobe shone on the edge of the surf line so their guests could see the surf at night. When every member of the planning committee moved to Yachats, it was so – those lights were here, they preceded and preceded each of you. “
Once the language is cleared, the council will officially approve the lighting ordinance, possibly once the regular business meeting takes place on April 21st at 2pm.
Please visit https://tinyurl.com/2uufaxua to find the full information pack on the Lighting Ordinance that will be used by the city councils during the meeting.