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Hawaii Proposes Outdoor Lighting Restrictions Bill

Hawaii Proposes Outdoor Lighting Restrictions Bill

A bill in Maui County, Hawaii would greatly restrict the use of outside lights to protect migrating birds and reduce nighttime light pollution. While some residents approve the proposal, others are expressing concern that the bill is too broad.

The bill is supposed to keep native Hawaiian birds from becoming confused by artificial light during flights from their nests to the ocean. It calls for all outdoor lighting to contain less than 2% of blue light, which would limit the short wavelengths that distract the birds. It also requires all outdoor lighting to be fully shielded and facing down, with no light shining above them. It also says if any light hits a wall surface, the wall must be non-reflective. All newly installed outdoor lighting will have to comply with the ordinance, while existing lights will have three years to comply.

The county’s Department of Public Works would enforce the new lighting ordinance. Fines could reach $1,000 for every day not in compliance.

Opponents of the bill are concerned that outdoor lighting at high school and college sporting events will be greatly impacted by its impact. Those venues may be able to ask for an extension from the three year deadline if a suitable replacement product is not available. The county plans to create a list of compliant light fixtures under the new bill, and continuously update the list as new products hit the market.

A final vote on the bill has not been scheduled, but currently six county board members support it, while one opposes it.

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