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Subject: Landscape lighting?
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BrianB
(California)

Posts:2820


05/08/2006 3:07 PM  
Anyone else have this problem? OUr CC&R's specifically prohibit ANY exterior lighting that is not in place for "security" purposes.

Quote: No Exterior speakers, exterior lighting, horns, whistles...except security devices used exclusively for security purposes, shall be located, used or placed upon any of the covered property.

Many of our residents have those small lamps/decorative landscape lights outside, to illuminate a walkway, a pathway through their landscape, a cactus, etc..

Are those illegal then, since they are not used for security purposes, but decorative? WHat about Porch lights? What about Patio lights and party lights? Does this also apply to CHristmas decorations?

it seems that it would, as none of those exterior lights are used exclusively for security purposes, and thus, by our CC&R's, are illegal.

Once again, is that being too anal? And, what recourse does a board have to eliminate some lights that are a nuisance, if the homeowner points to this rule and says "selective enforcement!.. you outlaw my lights, but not my neighbors!"

RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


05/08/2006 4:58 PM  
Brian, this requires good business judgement. Porch lights, patio lights, walkway lights, and plant lights can certainly be considered as security lighting. Violations for Chistmas lights are not enforced and I would change the wording the next time the CC&Rs are amended. Party lights and noise which disturb neighbors are violations I would enforce.

It is too anal and at this time your HOA has more serious problems which need to be addressed.
BrianB
(California)

Posts:2820


05/08/2006 7:44 PM  
thanks... i agree, but this is the type of CC&R's I have to deal with every month/day.

How do i answer the question about "selective enforcement" when it comes up? Ie, i tell someone they cannot have this light, but I allow landscape lights (which i have to disagree, have absolutely NO security aspect to them. A half watt bulb 8 inches off the ground in the middle of a yard has no security value what-so-ever).

Lol..and I would be hung (which would at least mean all the homeowners got toether for once) if i enforced the christmas light issue. a couple of our homes get newspaper coverage every year for their lights and displays, and in Arizona, christmas lights are HUGE.
hoatalk
(California)

Posts:577


05/09/2006 5:42 AM  
Roger can correct me here, but I believe one way to handle this is by publishing rules that make clear how the Board interprets the CCRs. Just make a list of what is and what is not allowed, based on your interpretation of the CCRs.

The landscape lighting that illuminates a walkway could be considered security lighting...Dictionary.com defines security as: "Freedom from risk or danger; safety." You can use the safety argument for walkway lighting.

For seasonal lighting, you could make a rule that this temporary lighting is allowed but must be removed by Jan 5 or just not enforce. Halloween may need to be addressed too.

The security argument can also go the other way. You could put football stadium lights over your property just for safety, but that should not be allowed either. Again, the 'spirit of the rule' and reasonableness tests need to be applied here.

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JulieS
(Georgia)

Posts:412


05/09/2006 6:35 AM  
We amended our design standards to allow for holiday decorations/lights to be displayed within a specified time (i.e., Christmas is from the day after Thanksgiving to 1/6). If your lights are still up on 1/15 then you receive a letter. We have specifications for Halloween and Easter also.

All other lighting added to the property needs to be submitted in an ACC request and approved prior to installation whether it is a flood light, landscape lighting, etc.

Due to a lack of volunteers, the board of directors acts as the ACC. We also have a management company that drives the neighborhood and issues the violation letters. This way the board members aren't accused of being selective.
SwanB
(Washington)

Posts:199


05/10/2006 5:44 AM  
We include the following on lighting in our Minimum Property Standards document:
All outside lighting for security or aesthetics will be a shielded type to direct light downward. Lighting in yards or on buildings may not be so bright or positioned to trespass beyond the property lines. No dusk-to-dawn lights and motion sensors are preferred.

Our HOA is located in a rural setting next to a national forest and ski area with a glacial creek running through it. Our intent was to limit the amount of light pollution.
BradB1
(Illinois)

Posts:15


05/11/2006 6:55 AM  
I know exactly what you mean about the question of landscape lighting. At first, I thought that it was no big deal, because everyone seemed to be using tastefully chosen low-volt pathway lighting, etc. However, one day while driving home along the highway that our subdivision backs up to--I saw what looked like VEGAS lighting all along the back of one of the houses that directly faces the highway. There were a total of eighteen "spot" lights (about the size of a typical flood halogen) in purple, pink and blue. They were attached right at the bottom of the second story and illuminated the entire backside first & walk-out levels and deck. Unfortunately, we do NOT have anything in our by-laws about this, but I am tempted to call it a nuisance because of it's display to the highway. I definately don't want people driving by to call us the "Vegas subdivision." I could certainly argue impact on property values with that.
I know that our Village has ordinances hidden way in their planning and development section that talks about how much light a particular light feature gives off. They refer to it in units called "candles," I believe (not sure on this one) but just like a landscaping plat depicts the spread of trees, they require a plan to be turned in from developers that depicts the intensity & spread of the light illumination from each fixture. you could look into that.
I would suggest putting a caveat in the R&R statements allowing for holiday decorations. You have to decide if you want to specify Christmas, or leave it general for holidays. You also have to consider those lights people put up that shine on the side of their house or their garage door and show a scene or rotating pictures. They sometimes come with all sorts of messages for all the seasons and holidays. Are you going to allow that? How can you specify time periods which the decorations can be displayed.

Does anyone else have these in their R&R statements that could offer some direction? How do you differentiate pathway lighting and such from architectural lightscaping (where there are spot lights shining up at certain features of the house, yard, landscape, etc.)
BradB1
(Illinois)

Posts:15


05/11/2006 7:06 AM  
My in-laws live in Green Valley, AZ and they are at the bottom of a huge valley. The mountain range just in front of them houses a National planetarium/telescopic viewing center (Kitt's Peak, I think?) The city actually enforces a no-light rule. The houses cannot have any more than the soft glow of the solar lights on their mailboxes (which are required, for safety.) Let me tell you, it is an amazing feeling at night to see all those stars. However, it is a little scary to think about the fact that this is a retirement community and some may have trouble with night vision! Also, they are very close to the border of Mexico and it is not uncommon for them to have INS lining people up in their backyards--so I worry about safety. But they enjoy it and everyone abides by the rules. Probably because they are in bed; at least that's what my mother-in-law says. (She doesn't consider herself one of "those" people yet!)
BrianB
(California)

Posts:2820


05/11/2006 8:50 AM  
swanb:
how in the world can you enforce the "no trespass beyond the property lines" feature of your rule?

as far as my high school physics taught me, any light, once emitted from a source, goes forever (but gets weaker and more spread out).

So, does your rule mean that if i can see the lights of my neighbor's yard from the street, that his light is "escaping" the property?
SwanB
(Washington)

Posts:199


05/11/2006 10:02 AM  
BrianB: You are getting too literal there. Before writing that into our Minimum Property Standards document, we researched lighting pollution regulations across the country and in the state legislation and HOAs. This wording was typical and actually transplanted from a wordier regulation in another county in WA state.
The problem we had with lighting complaints was when an individual would aim their lights off their property and into the eyes of drivers or bedrooms of adjacent homes or their lights were so bright i.e. sodium vapor type lighting, their whole corner of the universe was lit. This wording allows action against both those incidents either by redirecting the lights or shielding.
Of course anyone can stand outside a property and see the illumination from lights. Someone could easily see the illumination of the nightlight in my downstairs bathroom from the road when every other light in my house or outside my house is off. We don't care to over-legislate; we are simply attempting to give the association a spectrum to work within.
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