Sanibel City Council Forum series
The Sanibel City Council will have two seats open, with three candidates on the ballot. The city elections will be Tuesday, March 3.
The candidates are Chauncey Goss, Frances Slane and incumbent Jim Jennings.
The Island Reporter will be running a four-part series, featuring a question which will be affecting the City of Sanibel in the upcoming year. Each of the candidates’ answers have been limited to 125 words.
The first question of the series deals with the much-publicized and much-discussed Dark Skies ordinance, which is currently back on the City Council’s agenda, with two more readings to be had.
The subject of grandfathering in residents’ illuminaries (lights, bulbs, etc.) until they need to be replaced has been hotly contested. There are two main aspects to becoming compliant with the Dark Skies ordinance, as well, the first being shielded illuminaries and secondly, illuminaries can’t be pointed skyward.
“Do you support the grandfathering clause which is currently in the proposed Dark Skies ordinance (please explain why or why not)?”
I know there is a tension between keeping our residents safe and keeping our skies dark. Luckily, its not an “either or” proposition.
Smarter (directed) lighting allows us to do both. Each time I drive over the causeway or fly into RSW at night, I look at the island and think to myself how successful our community has been at minimizing light pollution.
Unlike some of our neighbors, there is no glow over Sanibel at night. I believe the Council did the right thing by postponing the full enforcement of dark skies and I am fully supportive of an aggressive education campaign that explains to our residents what, if anything, more is asked of them to keep our night skies dark while ensuring their safety.
In 2014 council extended the outdoor lighting ordinance, passed in 2000, for three years. The reason was that the vice-mayor and city staff had conducted an informal and unscientific survey which indicated compliance problems. The extension was passed in order to educate newer residents about the history and reasons for the ordinance. The three year extension was the only change made to the ordinance. Now there is a proposal to make multiple changes.
When I drive around the island at night it’s dark. Is there really a problem to be fixed?
Until and unless we can document a real problem and until we have made a strong effort to educate on the merits of compliance I support leaving the ordinance as it is.
Throughout my tenure, I have been a strong supporter of our Turtle Lighting Ordinance, which I believe is essential. Based on survey data, Sanibel is a dark community with 64% – 67% homes already dark and of the homes lit 83% to 91% not dark sky compliant. I believe some confusing language in the original ordinance contributed to the lack of Dark Sky compliance.
I support: clarity in the Dark Sky Ordinance, an exemption for low level safety lighting and solar lighting, full compliance of new construction and major renovations, a narrow Grandfathering Clause allowing residents to keep their functional outdoor fixtures until they need to be replaced. I also support a robust education program to encourage residents to become compliant prior to the deadline.