“I believe Santa Fe can be a leader in energy conservation as well as protecting our dark skies.”

Santa Fe City Councilor Mike Garcia


Take-aways:

  • There will be public hearings on the light color temperature
  • The false claim that the City was being “forced” by NM DOT to high temperature lighting has been definitively laid to rest. 
  • The false claim that the original Santa Fe proposal met with the IDAs approval has been debunked.

Eldorado's Northern Night sky is dominated by the Santa Fe Light Dome

Action Update: Santa Fe Lighting


A win that gives us an opportunity 

At the Wednesday, 24 February City Council meeting we won an opportunity to make a real and positive change in the Santa Fe City lighting. We also found a real champion of our cause on the Santa Fe City Council: Councilor Mike Garcia. 

The upshot of the meeting is that question of light color temperature is now open for discussion. The City Public Works Department will hold public hearings before making a recommendation to the Council on a detailed lighting plan. NM DOT is on record as being perfectly comfortable with highway lighting temperatures as low as 2700 K. 

We have moved the needle: now, we need to make it stick. That means work proactively to get the question of street lighting right: to correct the remaining misconceptions about light color temperature, public health and safety, and night sky protection, and show that there are lighting solutions that are safe for City residents where they live and where they drive, and protective of our shared night sky. 

We have work to do: let’s get to it!

Eldorado's Northern Night sky is dominated by the Santa Fe Light Dome

Take Action: Santa Fe City Street Lamp Project


The City of Santa Fe is considering a proposal to replace all of its street lighting. Some of that proposal is good: the new lighting fixtures will be much better shielded than the old. Another part of that proposal is very bad: the new lights will have a much higher “correlated color temperature” (CCT)  than the old lights. The increase in CCT – from 2200 K to (depending on the light) 3000 K or 4000 K, will – even with the increased shielding, significantly increase the scattered light from Santa Fe City and degrade the night sky in the City and all surrounding areas, including the 285 Corridor.

You can read more about the proposal and our reasons for concern on our site here

Eldorado's Northern Night sky is dominated by the Santa Fe Light Dome
Eldorado’s Northern Night Sky, January 2020. The skyline is dominated by the lights of Santa Fe, whose light dome obliterates all but the brightest stars through a 30 degree elevation. Santa Fe City’s proposal to increase the color temperature of its street lights from 2200 K to either 3000 K or 4000 K would greatly increase the intensity of the City’s lights in the 285 Corridor.

Following is a template that you might use to contact the Santa Fe Mayor and members of the City Council, to urge postponement of the final decision (scheduled for Wednesday, 24 February 2021) on the new street lighting until the city has an opportunity to hear from subject experts, sample the experience of peer cities who have travelled down this road, and properly address public concerns. 

Dear Santa Fe Mayor and City Councilors: 

I am a [[XX]]-year resident of Santa Fe, having moved here from the [[WHERE]], attracted by its quality of life, its respect for the environment, and its glorious dark skies. I am writing to you now to express my concern with one aspect of the City’s plan to improve its street lighting, which you will be taking up this Wednesday. 

My particular concern is with the choice of a high correlated color temperature (CCT) – 3000 K to 4000 K – for the street lighting. Such a choice is generally recognized by the medical community, lighting security experts, and the astronomical community for its documented negative effects on human health, highway safety, and night sky protection. 

[Optional Paragraphs:]

Such a choice is contrary to the recommendation of the American Medial Association, which has advised that outdoor night-time lighting should not exceed a CCT of 3000 K, and is best kept below that level. 

Security consultancies advise keeping lighting CCT below 3000 K to preserve the ability of security cameras to accurately render color and avoid being blinded by the increased glare and scattering associated with higher CCT lighting. 

Highway safety experts have long noted that high CCT lighting increases roadway glare, and that low (2200 K – 2700 K) lighting is preferred for its superior penetrating ability through dust and other particulates.

The professional astronomical community has documented the very damaging effects that high CCT lighting has on the night sky: effects that can be measured hundreds of miles from a city’s center.

[End optional paragraphs]

The Thursday, February 18 article in the Santa Fe New Mexican strongly suggests that the City has not properly consulted current expert advice and best practice recommendations regarding the CCT of lighting for road and highway safety, human health, and its effects on the night sky. Certainly the choices that are being recommended for Santa Fe run counter to the choices made by other municipalities of similar size, geography, and demographics. 

Correspondingly, I urge you to postpone any decision on this matter and take additional time to ensure that you have heard from subject experts, sample peer-city experiences, and properly address public concerns. 

Sincerely, 

Name, Address

Send your letter to the Mayor and City Councilors:

Mayor Alan Webber: mayor@santafenm.gov

Councilor Renee Villarreal: rdvillarreal@santafenm.gov

Councilor Michael Garcia: mjgarcia@santafenm..gov

Councilor Chris Rivera: cmrivera@santafenm.gov

Councilor Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez: jcsanchez@santafenm.gov

 

Councilor Signe I. Lindell: silindell@santafenm.gov

Councilor Carol Romero Wirth: romero-wirth@santafenm.gov

Councilor Roman “Tiger”Abeyta: rrabeyta@santafenm.gov

Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler: jvcoppler@santafenm.gov