Southern California Desert Video Astronomers

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MBDSA Dark Skies News

                                                                       By Leonard Holmberg

Morongo Basin 

DARK Skies Alliance

See latest news below

Light pollution that looms over the Joshua Tree National Park is becoming a grave concern to Park officials and naturalists caring for the welfare of the wildlife that live there. 
The encroaching negative influence that stems from urban sprawl and the uncontrolled use of excess night lighting is captured in special images produced by the physical science team working in the National Park.  
Luke Sabala, Branch Chief Physical Scientist for the Joshua Tree National Park, has submitted these photos to the newly formed Joshua Basin Night Skies Group to show the light pollution as seen from within the park.


Light Pollution Map Courtesy of

This colorful picture above is a light pollution map.  It is a computer generated satellite image that is centered on our astronomy observing site in Joshua Tree, California.
The area, shown, covers about 400 square miles of Southern California and outlines the zones of different light affected areas.
White zones are extremely affected areas. Red, yellow, green and blue zones become darker and stars can be seen with increasing ease. Black areas are best for night sky visibility.
The impact of light pollution is only, now, becoming understood. It is apparent that the negative impact on the environment and the well being of humanity are connected with the continued loss of this important natural resource.

* * * *

The following entries are offered so our readers can be informed about the activities of the group in the Morongo Basin area who have formed a "dark sky improvement" effort.

The latest news will be listed first and updated when there is something to report that has an impact on the effort. For information about the group, go to the end of this page and learn more about the group and their goals.


Latest News. . . . . . . . .

MBDSA meeting notes:


Wednesday, September 20, 2012

Present – Victoria Fuller, Mickey Luckman, Tom O’Key, Alan Rasmussen, Laraine Turk


Victoria brought the Home Depot Quote/Purchase Order for lights, a total of $1884.01 for 50 Essen 9” copper external wall lanterns.  It will apparently take a while to get a check from the County.  Alan is working on this.  Tom will call Teri Jackson just in case she might order these for us at a discount or find some other way to help. 


1. Farmers Market outreach


     a. Volunteers for booth

Because it will take a while to get the lights, we decided to move up the outreach days from 9/22 and 9/29 to October 6 and October 13.  MBDSA FOLKS WHO WEREN’T AT THIS MEETING, please email Laraine to indicate which of these days you can help for at least a few hours.  Hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.



     October 6:  Laraine,

     October 13: Victoria,


     b. Pamphlets and brochures for booth

We’ll have Base posters, the IDA Safety flyer & others as available, and the MBDSA brochure.  Laraine will check on current supplies and get more printed if necessary.  We will also have a sample fixture and other IDA-approved fixtures.  Tom will provide a solar telescope for at least part of the day if possible.


     c. Signup sheet for light exchange

Laraine will create a signup sheet for people who qualify to provide their contact information, so that Victoria can communicate with them on how to connect with the contractor.


     d. Map of area

Victoria will enlarge and laminate or frame copies of the fixture (back side of the postcard) and the area map indicating qualifying addresses.


     e. PSAMickey will create a 30-second PSA.


2. Review and send out mailer on the 20th


It’s ready to send.  The cost is $613.  Victoria will have them printed at VIP (they will mail, as well) and send Alan the bill.


3. Contractors - looking toward mid-October


“Buck” Buckley (local contractor) coincidentally was in the building lobby at the end of the meeting, so Mickey introduced him to Victoria so they could discuss the program and see if he’s interested.  Copper Mountain Mesa resident Steve Tuttle has contacted us, and wants to work with people to shield or spray paint tall lights on poles with his cherry picker.  However, his work cannot be under our program, as he is not a licensed contractor and there would be liability issues, but we hate to ignore his enthusiasm for helping.  (He may be mainly interested in the Copper Mountain Mesa area.)  Tom will talk with him.  Another contactor is sending Victoria a proposal.  Alan is still working on 2 others.


4.  Other

Patti Glover of Joshua Tree emailed MBDSA again about excessive lights on a nearby home (a rental).  County Code Enforcement officer Greg Rice’s response was that they were architectural lights and therefore exempt from the limiting ordinance.  There’s been more interaction and the property owner has reduced the number of bulbs and wattage.  Patti Glover is asking for a 10 p.m. curfew on lights or to have motion sensors instead.  We discussed offering several of our fixtures to the property owner, David Eckenroad.  Tom happened to meet Dave recently and will talk with him more about this situation.


Victoria is working with Stephanie, Seth, and Marlana on a matrix for the proposed ordinance, to more clearly explain what the current one does, what it doesn’t do, what our new one proposes, what questions we have for Planning, etc. 


Concluded about 4:00 p.m.


Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance

Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 3 p.m.

Present:   Victoria Fuller, Marlana Brown, Kelly O’Sullivan, Mickey Luckman, Tom O’Key, Alan Rasmussen, Claudia Sall, Christina Salazar (new intern working with Alan)

*Items in blue indicate a commitment to a task.

1. Update on Night Sky Ordinance & Grant money for lighting upgrades:

Alan confirmed that the $15,000 funding for our project is still available, but there’s been a County procedure change and Alan will have to provide some language to clarify our purpose and a method of allocation.

Regarding the Draft Ordinance, Alan said that Supervisor Derry hasn’t been here in Joshua Tree for a few weeks, but will be here next week and Alan will go over it with him then. 

2. Review flyer:

Several discussions throughout the meeting lead to these changes for the flyer (Marlana will make the changes):

 *Enlarge the font of the MBDSA website address;

 *Replace “Your address qualifies for… with “Your address may qualify for… ”

3. Review details of lighting upgrades:

We discussed a concern that too many residents whose lighting may already be compliant might request a fixture, thus reducing our hoped-for impact.  We further discussed how to respond to requests so as to get the fixtures to most-needed addresses.  Results:

1) Change postcard wording from “qualifies for” to “may qualify for” (see item  2.    above);  

 2) Make clear in contact with respondents that they have to EXCHANGE their existing fixture for the new one; and 

3) Provide on the website a short questionnaire to help interested residents understand what we are doing and whether their situation qualifies.  Mickey and Victoria agreed to work on this questionnaire.

Regarding downtown JT business lighting problems, we reconfirmed that the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce agreed to work with us in contacting businesses if we will provide a list of greatest “offenders,” along with specific information/suggestions for how they can improve, with Chamber Chair Eva Soltes as our contact.  Tom and Luke are working on finding the worst cases and options for improvement.  Alan said he’d join Tom and Luke in a drive-around at night to see the situation.

Tom provided some handouts about snap-on shields for traditional floodlights, full shields, other directing attachments, timers, and motion sensors, and said it was just a sampling – there’s a lot more available.  We should also request businesses to consider turning their lights down or off earlier.

Asked about funding for the business lighting improvements, Alan said it would be appropriate to use some of the funds for business lighting problems because the request was written for “constituents,” not just residents.  Claudia suggested that after this first project and implementation of the new ordinance, we might find some kind of matching grant funding.  Tom noted that there’s a federal program relating to Historic Route 66 to bring lighting into compliance.  Tom reminded us that IDA is very interested in and supportive of our efforts.

We agreed we needed to quickly get the list of worst offenders in JT that could be most easily fixed, and start working with Eva and the Chamber.  The JT gas stations are obvious possibilities.  We realize that it can be hard to get change at a local level when the entity is part of a big corporation.

Media/Public Announcements

We will send a press release to all relevant local media (preferably at the same time).  Kelly agreed to draft a press release that we will finalize at our July 25 meeting.  Suggestions for distribution:  Hi Desert Publishing, KCDZ radio, Copper Mountain Broadcasting, Joshua Tree Chamber list, MBCAC, MBCA, SCDVA, possibly the rolling screen of the local Warner Cable channel.  (Maybe also Andromeda Society and Sky’s the Limit contact lists, and the NCHR list? – LT)  Someone could request to be on KCDZ’s Friday morning 10 a.m. “Up Close” call-in local talk show, or at least call in about the project.  An announcement should be made at the August 2 Basinwide Foundation meeting (Sky’s the Limit is one of their projects).

4. Booth at farmers market to discuss lighting upgrades:

Need to have Demonstration items, especially easy cheap shielding, motion sensors, etc.   We can use our account with the Tourism Committee of MBDREC to print some more materials.  Claudia or Luke have Easy-Ups we can use for shade.  Laraine will find out about the sign-up process for the Farmers’ Market.

5. Open discussion

Tom suggested that the new Code Enforcement officer Greg Rice be invited to our next meeting.  Alan suggested instead a special meeting with Greg in Alan’s office with just a few committee members, to give him an overview on the whole issue and the project.  Greg is in the area twice a week.  Alan will schedule an appointment with Greg and let us know the date and time.



Finalize postcard, press release, and other details as noted above

Late July/Early August- 

Send out press release approved at July 25 meeting.




FARMERS MARKET TABLE.  Include IDA setup, demonstration items, brochures, bookmarks/magnets, etc.



Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance Meeting

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Present:  Marlana Brown, Victoria Fuller, Tom O’Key, Alan Rasmussen, Luke Sabala, Laraine Turk, Stephanie Weigel

Decisions and “To-Dos” are in blue.


  • Tom talked in general about the possibility that IDA, through SCDVA as the new regional representative, might in the future be able to provide some kind of support for MBDSA’s projects. 
  • Tom told us he has full license to show the movie “The City Dark.”  It will be shown at the June 2 SCDVA event that includes astronomy, photography, etc.
  • Victoria shared her interest in making magnet versions of the bumper sticker.  Most thought a refrigerator-size would be better than bumper sticker-size.  Victoria has talked to Signs by Wanda about redoing the project.  Laraine and Victoria will work to find the earlier version that was bookmark or refrigerator-sized. 


Luke shared his efforts to find locations with the worst lighting that could be improved through use of Supervisor Derry’s grant:  

His main conclusion was that if we don’t get cooperation from businesses and Cal Trans, improving residential lighting wouldn’t make much difference.  Luke was looking for where residential retrofits might make the most sense, but in all those areas, business lighting and streetlights would make the difference negligible. 

Indian Cove was the farthest east he checked.  While there are quite a few violators, it’s not a great place to see differences before and after since it’s rather spread out.  

Copper Mountain Mesa has some very bad lights, but wouldn’t make a good before and after either, being quite spread out, although there are way too many mercury vapor lights. 

Luke then described his night visits to the Joshua Tree village area, to Friendly Hills (Lower and upper), Joshua Tree Highlands, and Monument Manor.

He noted there were fewer violations up higher on the hill (south of the highway), more violations at lower elevations.

He thinks the best possibility is in JT Village, but even that won’t work without cooperation from businesses, an example being the auto shop behind Valero gas.  Sunset Apartments near Sunset seem to all have an always-on porch light.  The best Before and After area would be up Park Ave. near Alta Loma, looking toward JT.  There are many houses with lots of porch lights on all the time.  It would be a good area to retrofit if we get business on board as well.

Laraine suggested working with the JT Chamber to encourage lighting changes.  Many local business owners are involved in conservation efforts including the move toward a National Conservation Historic Reserve.  Some may be leasing, but could talk with non-resident owners. 

The targeted area would include both sides of the highway west of Park and north and south of the highway.  A good photo point would be the intersection of Park Blvd. and Alta Loma.  Farther south, in Monument Manor, there are some high-pressure sodium and some architectural lighting violators, but they are very dispersed.  JT Highlands had about 10 bad lights but very dispersed, so not as much impact.  

We decided we should start with residential spending, and then get businesses on board, beginning with a meeting with the JT Chamber to look toward a partnership.  Tom made a call and learned that the JT Chamber will meet on May 30, 8 a.m., and they are interested in hearing about this.  Victoria and Alan and Laraine will attend that meeting.

Could also include non-profit JT storefronts such as the MB Cultural Arts Council, NPCA, Hi Desert Cultural Center, etc.  We considered possibly engaging Teri Jackson to help us research lighting solutions.  Tom noted there’s also an IDA representative who owns a San Diego lighting company.  

Use local artists to design one-of-a-kind fixtures?  Maybe that could be a subsequent project.

Tom will get links and information for better business lights.  

We agreed that the porch lights from Home Depot that we reviewed earlier should be the “free” fixtures Luke noted that the larger fixture with a short bulb is the best configuration, which we agreed we should also provide.  A porch light is a good entrée to eventually deal with security lights.


We agreed a postcard or flyer should be mailed to potential recipients with a message similar to this (Victoria will research PO costs for carrier route mailing):  

“Special Notice:  your Joshua Tree residence qualifies for a lighting upgrade to come into compliance with the county ordinance.  Limited supplies of qualifying porch fixtures will be free.  Contact us……… (info)”

We also have to consider how to handle those who are renters rather than owners.

Making a bulk purchase of the fixtures and bulbs could be through Home Depot, but what about Barr Lumber or Morongo Hardware?  Would be nice to give local business. Laraine will do preliminary inquiry with Morongo Hardware.  

Perhaps The Sun Runner would be a supporter.  Tom has talked with Steve Brown, and he’ll help as possible.  We could put our meetings on The Sun Runner online calendar.

Luke will give Victoria the street borders and Stephanie & Marlana will do flyer to send out.

Luke will give fixture detail to Laraine to check with MV Hardware.  

Tom will work on figuring out alternative security lighting with his IDA contacts, also timers and motion sensors.  

Some additional ongoing problems include Copper Mountain College (Bell Center), and Edison yard on the border of 29 Palms.  Can’t they use motion sensors?


Alan noted that there will be new lights to the tune of $36,000 for the western (older) portion of the County government center.  Hospital and continuing care are a mixed bag.  Newer lights are fine but older ones are poorly angled and there are some old mercury vapor lights.


Ordinance and Letter:

The Ordinance committee will present the MBDSA ordinance and cover letter to Alan to pass to Neil.  Some modifications to the current letter are being made.  

Victoria will send latest cover letter and ordinance after checking with Ordinance committee, and to our group, and wait for any public action on Neil and Alan.


Tom said the IDA rep says, “keep up the great work” after reading our notes on SCDVA website. 


Luke commented that CalTrans lights are a problem.  Tom said they’re replacing a line along the highway, but will just put the same fixtures back.  At a MAC meeting they said they might consider changing fixtures.

Should we invite CalTrans to our meeting in July?


Next meeting Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 3 p.m. at Alan’s office. 



MBDSA Meeting Notes

Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 3 p.m.

Attending: Alan Rasmussen, Luke Sabala, Claudia Sall, Seth Shteir, Laraine Turk, Victoria Fuller, Stephanie Weigel

1.  Night Sky Ordinance

Seth began the review of the latest version.  He noted that in the draft we are reviewing, the underlined text is verbatim from the current County ordinance.

There was concern about the new section (p. 11) requiring a lighting-specific plan; Claudia suggested that for contractors, it would be better to add a lighting element to the electrical plan rather than requiring a lighting-specific plan.  

Alan had a question about reference to “revision to an approved action”—what if it’s not related to lighting?  Perhaps it should be just a Yes or No on whether lighting was affected.

Alan questioned the last two foot-candle level descriptions, which we all agreed were confusing.  We suggested it might be helpful to either reduce the list of descriptions and/or have it as an addendum instead of within the ordinance. 

We discussed how to handle people who have homes in Resource Conservation (RC) areas, since the zone is 0 (most restrictive).  Claudia noted that she lives in such an area and homeowners must sign their understanding of special considerations in such areas.

A question was raised on Lighting Zones, p. 7, regarding lumens per acre.  Seth explained that the base allowance is for both shielded and unshielded.  For additional lighting, full shielding is required.  And after that, it must be amber lighting.

Seth discussed with Chad Moore (NPS lighting expert in Denver) some of the  shielded/unshielded issues.   The committee had started with requiring everything over 60W to be shielded.  But Chad noted that many outdoor lights that are available cannot be shielded.

Regarding measurement of trespass, p. 9, we agreed on the decision to have both yardstick and lumen measurements, but there was discussion about the language on location of measurements.  We agreed to drop the setback reference so it reads “at the property line in the complainant’s yard.”

On p. 11, street lighting was added.  After questions and discussion about the requirement for pedestrian lighting, we suggested the language needs clarification, i.e. the standards apply only if pedestrian lighting exists; this section does not require pedestrian lighting.

Regarding outdoor activity areas, p. 12, we liked the stronger language on light spillover, and the earlier “curfew” of 10 p.m. instead of 11 p.m.

Question:  what does “legal, non-conforming” mean?  A light that is legal because it was grandfathered in, but does not conform to code.

There were some rewording suggestions on page 13. (Sorry, didn’t record what these were.)

Question:  Why is all the language about emergency lighting needed (p. 14)? Most of this language was from the current ordinance and was left in.

After discussion about holiday/seasonal lighting (p. 14), we agreed to take out December 1 and January 15 limitation, as there are more and more “lighted” holidays, e.g. Halloween.

It was noted that about 80% of lights now have lumen levels printed on them and/or their containers, so it will not be a burden for homeowners to get information on lumens rather than watts.


Seth and the committee will complete one more draft and then send it to Neil Derry with a cover letter describing the process and experts consulted.


2.  Light retrofit program

This chart from the last meeting’s notes provided catalyst for discussion:



What to provide?


Who gets it and how?


Installation issues:


¨   One per home?

¨   Fixture only?

¨   Fixture and LED bulb?

¨   LED bulb only?


¨   First come/first served?

¨   Limit to Morongo Basin residents, MUSD plus Johnson Valley.

¨   Target people with the worst lighting, and offer a trade?

¨   Earlier idea was for low-income residents.

¨   Results need to be visible and have a strong impact.


¨     Installation as responsibility of the resident.

¨     Engage one or more local contractors to do installations (there are about 15 in the phone book).  Would require County-hiring protocols.

¨     Decisions and feasibility of working with Home Depot and/or with local small businesses.



Victoria spoke with some electricians, who suggested it would be about $75 to install 2 outdoor lights.  There would likely be occasional problems such as non-compatible wiring.  There would need to be a disclaimer for special circumstances.  Resident must be home at time of installation.  When bidding for the work, there would be specification for only standard heights, e.g. a house or gable light.  There are issues of pets, security, and logistics.  We might get bids from different vendors for various basin areas (YV, JT, 29). 

The funding is accessible at MBREDC via Alan.

After extensive discussion about how to target the money, key agreements were:

1)   Do a small pilot program in the County area to demonstrate change, especially the “JT Corridor,” i.e. east side of JT, where astronomy abounds and there are effects on the National Park.

2)   Offer the program through a homeowners or community association.

3)   Details need to be thought out and clear before offering the program to HOAs. 

4)   The JT corridor could have good results and be implemented in other areas later with more funding.


Luke will drive around the JT corridor at night to see where there might be greatest impact. 


Additional discussion about hiring contractors:  they would have to go through county bidding process.  Details should be standardized with some carefully described exceptions.  We should have a minimum number of houses to be done, with a focus on outdoor house and gable lights.  Can we deal with pole lights and prohibited lights?  What would work best in the view of the HOA? 


Luke will ask Chad if there are specific fixture recommendations from the Park Service. 


Costs to be determined: the suggested Home Depot fixture is singly $35 (volume discount?); cost of electrician installation; add a few expensive pole lights?


We said we needed to agree on the program by our next meeting and start implementation.


3.  Upcoming Events


On Yucca Valley Earth Day this Saturday, Laraine reported that MBDSA materials and exhibits will be part of MBCA’s table.  Tom O’Key will provide solar telescope viewing.  Victoria will be at JT Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning registering people for MBCA’s Landscape Tour and will also have Dark Skies information.

Laraine will get a bumper sticker to Victoria, as she wants to try making a magnetic version.


4.  Open Discussion

Victoria said she had talked to a person at the cement plant company (JT Sunfair area that has had air quality and excessive lighting problems) and they are willing to at least talk to us about our concerns.  She’ll work toward setting up a meeting.


Mickey has put up a MBDSA Facebook page.  We should all sign on, and add pictures if you have them.

We agreed on the next 2 meetings, both at 3 p.m. at the Supervisor’s office at the JT government center on White Feather Road.

Wednesday, May 16

Wednesday, June 20



Meeting Notes

Wednesday, March 23, 2012 Link


MBDSA Meeting Notes
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 

The tasks people have volunteered to complete are in blue.
 Present:  Victoria Fuller, Mickey Luckman, Tom O’Key, Kelly O’Sullivan, Alan Rasmussen, Luke Sabala, Laraine Turk, Stephanie Weigel 

1.       The Ordinance Committee - status    Stephanie spoke for the committee.  Seth, Marlana, and Stephanie are working to incorporate input from the first round of review by this group and some external sources.  Two of those external sources haven’t responded, so Seth has contacted two new sources with a request to review the draft: the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition, and Matt Root, a technical associate for the IDA in Tucson.  Thanks to Seth for finding new sources.  

2.       Discuss and look towards putting together details for exchange of noncompliant lighting.  Claudia will ask Edison whether they would advertise it if the County begins this program. Alan received confirmation from the County that we will have $10,000 toward retrofit lighting for low-income residents.  A detailed plan needs to be generated.  Issues discussed included:  Who should be targeted--residents or businesses?  Should there be a focus on impact of poor lighting?  Can it be used for MBDSA work, such as finalizing the end cap display at Home Depot, and using that for advertising of the retrofit program?  Should it be set up like the low-flow toilet exchange done recently by water districts?  Could we purchase large quantities of “good” fixtures so as to lower the cost for maximum benefit?  Most of all, what are the parameters of the funding as far as the county is concerned? Victoria will check with Alan to learn what limits there are on how we use the funding, and then email this group to ask for ideas, which we will discuss at the next meeting. Mickey will check with County Code Enforcement supervisor Mike Romage (who is retiring soon) about the most egregious or frequent lighting problems, for background information and “reality check” related to how to use the funding. Tom noted he has been communicating with Scott Kardell, the new public relations officer for IDA, working out of Tucson fulltime.  Scott is asking SCDVA to help with IDA representation for our area, thus we might be able to get IDA help on our projects.  Victoria will call him and invite him to our meetings 

3.       Alan working with Edison on pole light at church in Friendly Hills and cement plant lights in Sunfair area. Victoria made some calls and said that Edison believed the County owns this pole light, but the County said it doesn’t, and is now sending notification of this to Edison.  Claudia (not present) has said that she has an Edison contact, so Victoria will call her about this. Hopefully Edison (perhaps with help from Claudia’s contact) can turn off this light as well as others they are responsible for that are in violation. 
4.       Earth Hour is Saturday March 31st at 8:30 pm

  • Rotary presentations - Laraine will check with JT Rotary, Claudia for YV (2 clubs), and Stephanie will do 29 Palms.
  • Stephanie, Laraine, and Victoria met earlier today to prepare a presentation with storyboards.  Stephanie will prepare the outline and storyboards based on today’s meeting.  Cynthia has volunteered to do the presentation for YMIA.  Laraine will share the presentation information with Cynthia when it’s ready.
  • Seth writing a soapbox piece for Newspaper for Earth Hour and other dark sky issues
  • Seth not here to report.
  • Luke noted that Park Superintendent Mark Butler has asked him to do a PSA about night skies for local radio. Luke will check to see if it can include mention of MBDSA and our activities.  We also asked Luke to find out if the Earth Hour message can be carried to the lower desert by the Park’s communication.
  • Luke said he will be writing and submitting the PSA by next Tuesday (2/21).  It will go out to local radio stations and stations in the Coachella Valley.  He will try, within his guidelines, to include support for MBDSA’s Earth Hour efforts.  Stephanie will send the completed Earth Hour presentation to Luke for additional input in creating his PSA.
  • It would be great to get a before and after photo for Earth Hour.  Luke?
 Luke is trying to set up the new camera and will try to take before and after pictures on March 31, but it’s a full moon night so the difference may not be very visible.  Tom reported that SCDVA will also take pictures at their star party that night.  It would be great to see if Z107.7 would not only announce Earth Hour events, but also broadcast that evening from SCDVA’s site.  There was further discussion of locations for Luke’s photo-taking, perhaps at SCDVA’s site.  Tom reviewed the problems with lighting at the Cement Plant in north JT.  Victoria reported that Alan is still working on this. 
  • We should get Sky’s the Limit, SCDVA, and the Andromeda Society on board for maximum impact.  Ray?
  • Ray is not present today.  Tom noted that the Andromeda Society would like to have some bumper stickers.
  • Laraine confirmed that she will.
  • Victoria will see if Rebecca Unger can do a news article. 

5.  Earth Day is Sunday, April 22 2012 – Possible Home Depot booth/Yucca Valley Working with Home Depot asking for a booth, including Tom’s solar telescope. We’ll have a table at the Yucca Valley Earth Day.   We agreed to talk more about this at our next meeting. 

6.  Other educational opportunities Continuing:                  

a. Luke will invite Lorna Lange to our meeting to see how dark skies issues might be included in Park education programs. 
b. Working with schools Either Lorna Lange or Caryn Davidson (JTNP staff) will attend our next meeting to discuss the Park’s current educational programs.  Their programs are tuned into the schools’ curriculum requirements, and it’s working well, but there is not much staffing.  Tom noted that Lynn (?) of Transmission Joshua Tree teaches elementary school 6th grade at Onaga Elementary and invited Tom to make a presentation to her class.  Tom suggested we create an outline for this kind of presentation.  We’ll discuss more next time.                     

c. facebook / blog  Need a volunteer Victoria asked for a volunteer to keep our electronic footprint going forward (website and a Facebook page).  Mickey agreed to work on this, and will consult with Victoria.                   

d. Calculators online for electricity usage for website - Victoria Nothing today, but will address again in the future. 

7.       Informational documentation review: Brochures, bumper stickers, IDA flyers  We earlier discussed the last few changes to the brochure, and the decision was made to leave the logo typeface as is for now.  Kelly will make the changes as soon as she can and send to Victoria and Laraine.  Victoria will get another set printed.  Stephanie will work with Victoria to get some additional funding help via Sonoran Institute/MB Open Space Group. 
Laraine said we have 45 bumper stickers left from the first run of 100, and that Claudia has said she would donate $55 to cover the bumper stickers given out at the MBCA Annual meeting in January.  (Thank you!)  Luke said he would like to donate funding for another run of the bumper stickers.  (Thank you!)  

Next meeting: NOTE:  Conditions have changed, and the meeting will be on the regularly scheduled 3rd Thursday, MARCH 21, 3 p.m.  Victoria will email everyone with the location, since it might be at the new County Building in Joshua Tree.



MBDSA Meeting

January 25, 2011 Link



MBDSA meeting December 21, 2011


Present:  Alan Rasmussen, Victoria Fuller, Tom O’Key, Seth Shtier, Laraine Turk, Cynthia Anderson, and guest Mike Romage, SB County Code Enforcement

Mike Romage said he was here to answer questions we might have about the current lighting code and how it’s enforced.

1.       Update on Ordinance

Alan reported that the Town of Yucca Valley is favorable to our interest in the lighting at the new car dealership.

Seth noted that mercury vapor lights are not allowed in the draft ordinance, even if shielded (current ordinance allows in commercial/industrial settings if fully shielded).

Victoria asked Mike about the number of lighting code-related calls per month.  Mike said the ordinance was new when he started, and he was the first one enforcing it.  Most calls were from Joshua Tree and Morongo Valley, but the number has been reduced over the years.  He believes the most egregious lighting problems have been addressed and people are more aware of what’s legal.  He gets about 6-12 complaints a month compared to several dozen each month a few years ago.

Seth asked how Mike handles problems when commercial zones abut residential zones.

Mike checks the conditional use permit to see what was permitted.  There’s an upswing in complaints about signs and businesses in JT recently.  If it was approved by a CUP, there’s not much that can be done.  People need to know that streetlights are exempt.  Mike also noted that very few lighting complaints have been prosecuted.

Mike noted that since the code allows shielded mercury vapor lights, and the lights are available at Home Depot, people buy them unaware of the shielding regulations, then are upset when there’s a complaint, but they tend to eventually comply.

Mike and his crew sometimes go out and check lights at night.  They use the basic yardstick measurement to determine light trespass. He also noted that people often don’t know the difference between light trespass and light pollution.  When light at a higher elevation and at a distance is perceived to be a problem, it usually isn’t light pollution or light trespass, it’s just because of the elevation difference, and nothing can be done. 

Mercury vapor lights are the most common illegal light.  Mike and his crew talk with both parties and see if at least one side can be shielded.  Sometimes it helps, sometimes not. They always try to work with both property owners and get some kind of agreement.

Tom asked about the cement plant excessive lighting issue in the Joshua Tree Lake area.  Mike said the company has an exemption for the bright lighting under a temporary use permit.  Some of the lights are required by Cal OSHA.  Laraine & Tom, who live in the area, noted that they haven’t been running the bright light lately.

Victoria talked about a few cases where we have heard that using the International Dark Skies model “neighbor letter” has had positive results.

Tom talked about a problem in Landers where neighbors of the Riverside astronomers group site have retaliated against what they perceive as driving too fast in their neighborhood by deliberately turning on lights when the astronomers are there. 

We discussed how, in the current ordinance, definitions of light trespass and light pollution are actually very general.  It doesn’t clearly state what a violation is; it’s somewhat of a judgment call.

Seth talked about lumens and zones in the new draft ordinance.  Group members have received a copy of the draft via email.  Mike wondered if could you measure lumens from a distance.  Luke said yes, and the special light-measuring camera he has at the Park has some upgrades that can help.  It can pan across 360 degrees and measure light output.  It will be used to measure light incursions from the solar developments on east side of the Park. 

Mike wondered if it could be used as an enforcement tool.  Luke thought yes, but we agreed there are issues of determining what the measurement limits would be and getting the machine authorized to be used for enforcement. 

Regarding using machines for enforcement, Mike made a comparison about the decibel-sensing sound meters they use for OHV enforcement.  The $1200 meters aren’t certified; certified ones cost $4000, so there’s a cost factor.  There are no current approved light-measuring devices, as far as Mike knows.

Tom noted that in a recent survey of Park visitors, over 91% wanted pristine night sky views during their visit to the Park. 

Mike reiterated that even if people are mad at first about complaints made against their lighting, they usually eventually comply.  Plus there are people who make complaints that aren’t justified, so Code Enforcement tries to explain.  Architectural lights are difficult – they don’t always provide light trespass but can be annoying to neighbors (e.g. “The house looks like a spaceship!”).

Seth asked about a schedule for implementing a new ordinance. Mike noted that with the new OHV ordinance, they educated rather than cited for 6 months.  Then for next 6 months they gave warnings, then started giving citations after a year.

We discussed the difficulties and costs of getting good fixtures.  Mike noted they gave Barr Lumber the appropriate code sections when it was implemented. Tom mentioned that we’re trying to work with Home Depot, but the high cost of good fixtures is a problem, and there are also issues of national chain management and lack of local control. 

Victoria mentioned the very recent adoption of a new lighting code in Riverside County, and Tom added that light pollution is a big issue on a national astronomy website. 

Mike asked what definitions we are using the in the draft ordinance and Seth said we’ve adopted good ones from other organizations.

Victoria will email a draft of the proposed new ordinance to Mike when it’s ready to share.  Alan added that Judy Tateman, SB County Planning Supervisor, looks forward to seeing our result.  The office is too poorly staffed to permit them to attend one of our meetings, but they are open to hosting us at their office when we’re ready to share the proposal.

Seth proposed and we all agreed that for now the draft will be shared only within the MBDSA plus Teri Jackson, Hy Kaplan, and Chad Moore.  We were glad to hear of Mike’s interest and told him his help would be very valuable to us.  He gave us his phone number: (760) 228-5426.

In response to Mike’s offer to answer any more questions before he left, Laraine asked what the rules are on motion sensor lights.  He said there is a limit on how long they can be on, and there might be a wattage limit.  It’s in the code but he wasn’t sure about details at the moment.

Tom said he thought there should be a County requirement for retailers to inform consumers about problems they may have before selling them certain lights, or at least have a designated section for County-compliant lighting.  There are some fixtures that carry the IDA label as meeting requirements for their model ordinance.

Mike noted that the huge number of types of lights at Home Depot is confusing even to him! 

We thanked Mike and he left.

Seth said the ordinance committee is still making a few decisions, but feedback on the version he emailed today is welcome.  We ask that all committee members read the draft ordinance and respond online with comments by Friday January 13 (not the 25th as suggested in Seth’s email), so that we can make significant decisions at the next meeting (January 25).  Send comments to Seth, Stephanie, or Marlana, or to the whole group. 

We had further discussion about measuring light trespass with a yardstick vs. a lumen-measuring device.  What is the threshold when you actually see or don’t see a shadow?  Tom has experience as an accident investigator, e.g. dark crosswalks, and pointed out there are many variables.  Seth noted we will probably still be working with the stick; even though lumens are more scientific, can the County afford equipment and is it really better?  Victoria pointed out maybe there would be a source that would donate light measurement devices to the County.  Seth reminded us that many lights now have lumens listed on them, and this will be helpful.

2.       Brochure

We agreed to take one more look at latest version.  Here are some changes to pass along to Kelly: 

          One space needs to be removed under What We Do.

          Add Dark Skies Association email at bottom center back

          And reinforce by adding DSA email on the bottom right hand side of the inside page.

          Try out Charcoal font on logo if possible.  (via Samantha or maybe Cynthia can try?)

Laraine will send these changes to Kelly.

3.       Bumper Sticker 

Laraine asked for clarification.  The decision is to order 250 black and white bumper stickers of the MBDSA logo (with the constellation), at the estimate of $157.  Laraine will follow through with the order next week.


          We will hopefully agree on a draft to be shared with County Planning after our January 25th meeting, as noted above.

Luke noted that the lighting at the old Phelps car lot in YV, now Yucca Valley Ford, seems to be as bright as before. 

Victoria spoke about the need to strategize how to work with businesses and do community outreach.  She suggested we get brochures and posters to businesses, and make Chamber of Commerce presentations.  Let’s come up with more ideas at the next meeting.  Need to engage people from all surrounding communities, including outlying areas (e.g. HVCC, Wonder Valley) because there’s an array of different issues and viewpoints in various parts of the Basin.  Contact the people who write the weekly community columns in the local papers. 

Laraine added that Dark Skies issues related to energy use are on the agenda in January for the MBCA annual meeting (January 21) and Teri Jackson will be speaking.  Laraine will work toward having night sky and lighting as interest areas on a volunteer interest card they plan to use at the meeting.  


 Wednesday, January 25, 2011, 3-5 P.M.  (Alan’s current office)

 Wednesday, February 15, 2011, 3-5 P.M.  (Alan’s current office or possibly the

 new one in JT) 

Alan will invite Mark Butler to both of these meetings, hoping he can make at least one.

Adjourned around 4:45. 


Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance Meeting


Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 3:00 p.m.
(Notes in blue action assigned.)

Present: Victoria Fuller, Alan Rasmussen, Tom O’Key, Stephanie Weigel, Marlana Brown, Kelly O’Sullivan, Ray Yeager, Seth Shtier, Laraine Turk, Teri Jackson.


Victoria introduced Kelly O’Sullivan, who is a new Marstel-Day employee on the Base and will be taking Samantha Giordano’s place in our group.


1.       Brochure revisions – Cynthia and Laraine

Laraine went over changes that she and Cynthia recommended. Subsequent discussions included the need for a citation if tourism is the #1 generator of income; additional possibilities for quotations; how to better state our encouragement to local businesses, i.e. thanking them rather than just asking them to conform to code; including encouragement to buy appropriate lighting fixtures from local stores; taking out the reference to red or yellow filters, which is not proven as an advantage; and different ways to state our purpose regarding the ordinance.  (See website for latest version.) 


We also had a discussion about how to encourage donations.  A tear-off, mail-in part of the brochure was suggested, but most felt electronic methods are better. If in the future we want to include a paper donation form, we can always insert one into the brochure. Laraine and Victoria agreed to work on getting a PayPal connection with the fund recipient being MBREDC.  Note that there is a 2.5 or 3% cost for transactions on PayPal.


We also will add a request on the website for sponsors, e.g. SCE or local businesses (Victoria).


2.       Maps that we can show of the Lighting zones in the County

Stephanie and Seth SBC went over the proposed lighting zones, 0-3 for the SB County Desert and Mountain communities.  A combination of donations from The Sonoran Institute and MBCA provided $150 to purchase files from the County.  There are 15 or 20 County land use zones, and the committee matched them up with lighting zones.  3 is the most intense allowable lighting, 0 the lowest.


So far, the committee has sorted the land use categories into the lighting zones this way:


Lighting Zone 0 Agriculture, floodway, open space, resource conservation 
Lighting Zone 1 Rural living, multiple residential, single residential, special development, special development-residential 
Lighting Zone 2 Neighborhood commercial, office, commercial, rural commercial, community industrial, institutional, regional institutional, special development-commercial 
Lighting Zone 3 General commercial, highways commercial, service commercial


Marlana noted some of the committee’s uncertainty about agricultural lighting needs.  Leslie Thornburg of Cadiz will ask other large-scale desert farming operations.  Teri said they’d typically be category 1. 


Resource conservation is a zone class and a very large portion of the County, mostly BLM, Park and Base.  But it doesn’t mean no development.  There are homes on some resource conservation parcels.  We may have to differentiate resource conservation parcels with homes and those without homes for zone 0. 


Mining is mostly leased through the BLM, and not in the County jurisdiction.  The definition of resource conservation is vague, but allows residential development in certain cases, which would then probably have to change to zone 1.  There was further discussion about details of circumstances of 0 and 1 in resource conservation parcels.  There are also issues of change of zoning (e.g. solar/industrial) and lumen levels, shielding, etc.  Marlana asked if Teri could join the committee with her valuable input.  They still plan to meet their goal of December 20 completion. 


Seth noted that the overall goal is light protection, and the County is saying certain areas shouldn’t have too much lighting for various reasons, which can help guide development.  Teri said that adding development of any kind has to go through a variety of processes that can be commented upon, and this array of zone overlay (land use and lighting) should help.  Lighting zone language, especially 2 and 3, should be carefully written to avoid light trespass.  Teri will work with the committee on careful language to keep major changes in raising the zoning level from happening.


Seth said they will look at lumens and learn more about what the numbers mean and will also research transitions between residential and higher lighting areas. 


Tom noted that Riverside County’s ordinance is changing for the better.  John Garrett from Temecula is a new IDA person, and W.Scott Kardel is also watching this.  They are concerned about casinos and mining and solar at the southeast end of Joshua Tree National Park.  They have lobbied Riverside for the last 5 years and are finally seeing some improvements. 


Note from Laraine:  here is a current story about the ordinance—voting has been postponed for a week:   
Riverside County Fail to vote on light trespass ordinance

3.       Bumper sticker/ Window cling – Update – Claudia


(Do we opt for one color and have dark background [navy, purple?] with white letters? We cannot do less than 250.     250 full color $559.00 plus tax  / 250 one color $157.00 plus tax  - How to cover cost?)


We agreed to go with the one-color, but need to wait until we get donations.  Teri said her company, Seaport Lighting, would sponsor an order of bumper stickers.  THANK YOU TERI!!  Laraine will tell Claudia to go ahead with the order. 


Tom would like to see us plan a fund-raising star party -- SCDVA would help.


4.       Webpage – updates / revisions  - Victoria

Victoria will put the latest brochure online, and add other quotations.  Let her know if you have other effective quotes.  She will also add a thank-you to Teri’s company for the donation.


5.       Old Phelps dealership lighting – Alan

Alan knows the person who bought the property and will talk with him about lighting issues. 


Victoria mentioned that if the Dollar General were built in Joshua Tree, we would need to talk lighting with them.


6.       Upcoming events -

  • Laraine noted that MBCA’s annual meeting presentation in mid-January will include lighting issues—or it may be the main topic.
  • Victoria said that JTCA meeting on November 19 will host Stand Up California regarding the proposed JT Casino, and Victoria will bring MBDSA brochures.
  • Tom noted that on November 26 SCDVA will have the “Giving Thanks Star Jam.”
  • Western Governors are in YV on December 7.  To attend would cost $250 but Stephanie has a call in to see if some people can come for free if they just want to be at one session.


INSERT:  END CAP AT HOME DEPOT – This has been on the back burner – they’re not very responsive to what we would like to see (labeling lights as IDA-approved).  Need pressure from people requesting the right kind of lights.  They have no experience with the right kind of lights and have their (old) inventory.  We’ll reinvest energy into this issue next year.


7.       Open discussion


a.       Riverside / Kern County Lighting ordinances

Discussed above


b.      Stressing importance to business / tourism

Need to get support of Chambers first, then local businesses.  Should list businesses who support us on the webpage.  Contacting them gives us the opportunity to talk with them and get support, so when the ordinance comes up they will be advised and in support.

Let Victoria know of business you or she can contact.

     Tom thinks MBDSA should be in support of the CDPA and against casinos.


c.       Next meeting December 14th 3:00pm


We’ll try to arrange to show the “The City Dark” movie next time.


Alan is inviting Mark Butler to our next meeting.


Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance Meeting

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 Link


Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance Meeting
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
3:00 p.m., Supervisor Derry’s office

Present: Marlana Brown, Victoria Fuller, Samantha Giordano, Alan Rasmussen, Laraine Turk, Rebecca Unger, Ray Yeager

(Note from Laraine:  The blue sentences indicate someone has committed to an action.)

1.  Updates from Alan: Fundraising under umbrella of tourism group?

Alan reported that the Morongo Basin Regional Economic Development Consortium (Tourism Committee) is interested in dark skies as a tourism draw, and the group manages funds for the region’s Chambers of Commerce.

He feels that our group could work within the Consortium via the tourism interest and perhaps have them hold and manage funds we might acquire. Joe Meer of MBTA is the Treasurer.
Victoria led a discussion about the costs of our proposed giveaway items.  We agreed that we should make formal requests for funding by providing our “wish list” to potential funders, including the groups represented by individuals who attend these meetings.

It would be great to get funding soon so we can order and receive things before the Starry Nights Festival on Saturday, October 1.

Victoria also noted she has rented The City Dark movie for one showing for $25.  We would need to figure out funding to be able to show it to groups in the future.

Laraine will draft a letter and copy Victoria and Alan to ask MBCA for funding at their Board meeting tomorrow.

Everyone present was asked to ask their respective groups for donations, where appropriate.

1.  Old Phelps dealership lighting.

Alan noted that last night the Yucca Valley Town Council meeting focused on development.  Some members agreed that they didn’t want excessive late night lighting on businesses as there had been at Phelps Dodge.  Alan will now talk with the person whose business is planning to move to that site.

2.  Bumper sticker – Update
Costs for 250 bumper stickers (cling stickers) based on the current draft:
          4-color: $768
          1-color: $315

It would be great to have T-shirts with the full color design.  Samantha will work on some small design changes with Dave Miller.

3.  Revisions to brochure  – Samantha  (attached)

With one more small change, we’re all very happy with the brochure.  Thanks to Samantha for all the initial work and many revisions.   Laraine expressed her opinion that in future versions, she believes we should rethink the section on Ordinances, both because the brochure is so “busy” and because there might be ordinance information that would be more appropriate for residential questions.

4.  Table for Andromeda Society’s annual Starry Nights Festival, Saturday, October 1 at the Yucca Valley Community Center.

Cynthia Anderson couldn’t attend today but told Victoria she will volunteer for several hours.  Ray said the lectures are scheduled between 1 and 4 p.m., and we should set up around 12:30, sharing Skies The Limit’s table.  Marlana and Laraine can also volunteer.  Stephanie has most of the display items, and the IDA display case is in Alan’s office.  Laraine will arrange to get the display materials to YVCC on the 1st.
5.  Status night sky ordinance- Seth

Marlana, Seth, and Stephanie continue to get feedback to determine further work on the ordinance.  Marlana said that our draft ordinance has been forwarded to the Tucson group for their comments. Because Tucson doesn’t base their code on land use zoning, we’ve also have the Oro Valley code (near Tucson).  Stephanie was going to try talking to someone from SB County Planning but she couldn’t be here today so we don’t have a report.  Teri and/or the Tucson group will hopefully answer some technical questions.  The committee hopes to present a draft in late October.

6.  Outreach on the Highway 62 Arts Tour? 

Probably only per each artist’s wish, but possibly we could have brochures at the preview opening (at Hi Desert Nature Museum).
Ray is on the Tour and thinks a number of artists might be OK with putting out brochures.  But the opening at the Museum where we might give them out to many Tour artists is this Friday, and we don’t have brochures.  So, we agreed to personally talk with artists we know to see if they’re willing and then get them the brochures by October 22 (first Tour day for West side of Basin).

7.  Open Discussion / next meeting date            
Alan will invite Mark Butler to our next meeting (and let Luke know). Hopefully he’ll learn more about our work and maybe has some specific Park issues we can work on together.

Victoria would like to see us get more of our information out to businesses.  The Marine Base posters are very desirable, and Marlana said she could get more.  It would be good to get them all out there because the date 2011 is on the bottom picture.

We were sad to hear that Samantha’s next meeting will be the last as she’s moving to a new job in the Bay area.

Everyone should take a look at the  website. Victoria’s been improving it.  Take the energy use quiz and give feedback.  She would like to find a way to connect the quiz with the “tier” aspect of SCE rates to emphasize cost savings.

Where could we screen the City Dark movie?  Ray will check with Stephanie at the Museum to see if we can show it there on their plasma screen.

NEXT MEETING:  Wednesday, October 12, 3-5 p.m., at Supervisor’s office; Victoria will send a reminder a week before.


Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance Meeting


Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 3:00 pm - Supervisor Derry's office, courtesy Alan Rasmussen

Present: Alan Rasmussen, Seth Shteir, Laraine Turk, Cynthia Anderson, Ray Yeager, Luke Sabala, Marlana Brown, Samantha Giordano, Victoria Fuller, Stephanie Weigel

(Note from Laraine:  The blue sentences indicate someone has committed to an action.)

Victoria noted that Tom O’Key is being interviewed today by Channel 2 (Coachella Valley) about his astronomy involvements and hopefully MBDSA.

Teri Jackson is still interested in being part of MBDSA but can’t be with us today.

Alan talked with Richard Warne, new 29 Palms City Manager, and he is very interested in our work on a new ordinance.


1.  Bumper sticker - Review choice and funding - Claudia

Claudia wasn’t able to attend today but provided a draft of the bumper sticker.    Victoria noted that black-and-white vs. 4-color is a huge cost difference.  Costs for 250 bumper stickers based on the current draft:
 4-color: $768
 1-color: $315

A cling sticker for inside the window in 1-color would be $315 for 250.  Most of us thought the cling sticker would be more popular than a bumper sticker.

Samantha will revise the design to include the MBDSA logo.

We discussed asking Home Depot for a contribution, but no decision was made on that.

We all thought it would be great in the future to have T-shirts with the MBDSA design.

Alan can do some printing of brochures for us. 

2.  Revisions to brochure  – Samantha
Victoria knows someone who will print our brochures for $20 per 100.  Should we ask for donations?  Laraine will ask MBCA.  Alan will check with the Morongo Basin Economic Development group’s tourism committee about the possibility of supporting us. Victoria will check with MDLT about possible funding. 

Stephanie hopes to talk with Karen Messaros (JTNP) about MBDSA sharing a table with the Park at events where possible, and maybe having our brochures at the Visitor Centers.   We’ll try to get brochures printed and distributed at the Park’s special 75th anniversary program at Hidden Valley on Wednesday, August 10.  Laraine expects to be there and Victoria will get some brochures to her.

Luke told us he is working with a Dark Skies effort within the National Park Service.

Cynthia made some suggestions to clarify information in the brochure, particularly to clarify points about the San Bernardino County lighting ordinance.

Ray asked that brochures be available for the local Andromeda Society’s annual Starry Nights Festival, Saturday, October 1 at the Yucca Valley Community Center.  Perhaps we’ll have a table, or share with Sky’s the Limit.

Tom is still working on the end cap display at Home Depot, and will need $100 to pay for the designed background.
3.  Report on 29 Palms Movies outreach - Victoria / Stephanie
The Marine Base posters were a real draw as always. Numbers weren’t real high, but they felt they probably talked to people we wouldn’t have reached otherwise, including a fair number of younger folks. Rick Hiestad (STL) was also there with a solar scope. 

Victoria noted that Teri said we can keep the IDA display for a while longer.

4.  Status night sky ordinance - Seth

Seth and Laraine submitted an article about MBDSA’s work to The Sierra Club’s Desert Report. 

Alan noted that Richard Warne, new 29 Palms city manager, wants to keep up with the development of the ordinance. 

Stephanie, Marlana, and Seth meet every 2 weeks and hope to have a draft of an ordinance by end of October to present to this group.  They are examining other ordinances closely.  Making light pollution easy to measure is a key concept.  (Note: Alan tried to get Mike Romage here today, but couldn’t.)  Romage suggested starting to engage someone from Planning.  Alan will pursue this. 

Seth said that among the issues that are arising is whether to apply the ordinance only to new construction.  They will probably also require it for major renovations and additions.  Maybe also for minor additions, if there could be funding support.  There are issues with definitions, e.g. is “trespass” the same as ”spillover”?  (Luke says Yes.)  They’re using the purpose and needs sections from Moorpark’s ordinance.  The Tucson ordinance also has good purpose and need sections, and connection to a desert environment.  High intensity mercury vapor lights are an issue, and light not interfering with military night operations.  The committee wants to talk with Teri about lumens and zones, and make a table.   

Their next task is to look at lighting zones with appropriate Open Space Group maps to look for matches with land use zones.  Marlana asked about public input for zones later on.  Victoria suggested getting feedback from “our groups” (member associations) when we’re further along.  Seth thought we should deal with representatives of groups, governments, and organizations.  Victoria noted we’re also using IDA.  Stephanie suggested communicating with the County early, just as FYI, and offering them participation in whatever mode they think is best. Perhaps we can get an official representative from their staff. (See above, Alan will pursue this.)

5.  Open discussion  

Victoria has heard complaints about new bright lights at night at Hi Grade Materials Cement in Joshua Tree.  Victoria plans to get a few people together soon to meet with them in a friendly approach and find out what’s going on.  Tom, Victoria, and Laraine are interested.


    • YV Ford Dealership moving into the former Phelps site.  We should chat with the new owner as early as possible and point out the savings of using only security lights at night, etc.    Perhaps we can find models of good car dealership lights elsewhere, maybe Tucson?  Alan will do some preliminary discussion with someone to get an idea how to best approach this. Victoria will check on Tucson car dealerships.
    • The City Dark is a documentary movie about dark night skies that has won a number of prizes.  It is available for rental.  Many thought we should see it and consider its use for high school and other outreach, perhaps showing via SCDVA.
    • Seth is interested in writing another article later on in Sky & Telescope  or other relevant magazine.
    • Laraine will send the Desert Report article to this group.
    • Alan said that the Joshua Springs dome will be placed at Sky’s the Limit’s observatory; Supervisor Derry’s discretionary funding helped. 
    • Ray talked about new science regarding how lights at night worsen smog.  This was in a Sky & Telescope article a few issues ago. 
    • Stephanie said she’s willing to store our outreach materials. 
    • Pioneer Days in 29 Palms was mentioned as another possible outreach event.
    • Can we do outreach on the Highway 62 Arts Tour?  Probably only per each artist’s wish, but possibly we could have brochures at the preview opening (at Hi Desert Nature Museum).


    June 22, 2011:

    Laraine Turk continues to take notes of our meetings with great diligence.  It is with her permission, we  continue to publish her writing, here, on this page.  We appreciate that she makes these records available to our readers as the progress of this groups efforts are best served with the fine detail she is able to share with everyone. With this we say, "Thanks, Laraine!  Great Job"!

    Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance meeting



    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 Link

    MBDSA Meeting Notes Tuesday
    May 24, 2011Link


    April 21, 2011

    The April meeting of the MBDSA took place as planned with about half of the committee in attendance. At the time of this entry
    (May 7) several planned events had taken place. The group has been very busy with outreach and community events.
    Reporting here is best served, at this point, by simply including the notes provided by Laraine Turk as she has captured the general overview of what has occured. Please note that Laraine has done a splendid job of reducing my workload, here. Thanks, Laraine!
    There are extended amounts of information included here with the purpose of providing some insight into the depth of the activity of the group and our goals. Please email with comments, suggestions, complaints, or added info.
    Thanks, TO

    Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance

    Meeting Notes – April 21, 2011 link

    March 23, 2011:

    Meeting of the MBDSA took place as planned at the office of County Supervisor Derry's representative, Alan Rasmussen . An overflow turnout, again, reflected the dedication of the group and the agenda flowed with the timeline set by Victoria as we went through the list of objectives.

    A date of May 1 was set to submit the suggested adjustments to the Counties code related to night lighting. Discussion continues about needed additional information that has the appropriate insight into what the code should say and try to accomplish. Factors are forming and the guiding influences are accumulating. Seth has been following up on comparative examples and Teri has been coordinating with the knowledge provided by the IDA. The current code and the need to improve the regulations are being considered with upcoming input from existing code enforcement evaluations and practical solutions based on economic and resource availability. Code enforcement input will be provided at the next meeting that is set for April 20th.

    Scheduled participation in some local events were discussed and the plans were firmed up with commitments for helping to man the tables and distribute information was established. The first event takes place, on March 26, with the Morongo Valley Spring Festival. Sharing tables with the MBCA and other groups, MBDSA will be offering information about the need for improving the health of our night sky.

    The next event will be held on April 16, when we take part in the Earth Day Celebration sponsored by the Town of Yucca Valley. This is a large event and an extended effort will include a display of night lighting fixtures that will give people a chance to learn about the hardware that is available and advice on how to fix problem lighting at economically worthwhile rewards.

    Following the theme of April 16 will be the Earth Day event that will be held at the Home Depot in Yucca Valley. This event will cover two days on the 22nd and 23rd of April. The intention is to set up a large display of lighting fixtures and to guide the public to help fix the night skies. Participation is in the planning stage as we will have another meeting of the group just before this event.

    Helpful crossover connections we emphasized as the direction of the group has become more established. Participants in the group are getting a feel for the relevance associated with the goals of other organizations working in parity and realizing the benefits of this effort. It seems obvious that the foundation of the cause to improve night skies is fundamental in the efforts of other, similar, interests.

    The outreach connections being discussed include presentations to various groups in the community with hopes of expanding support for night sky awareness. Participation in other upcoming events was encouraged where we could help to educate the public as well as city planners and those in the construction trades. Educational institutions are on the list of points of contact to extend the understanding of future opportunity in the job market for night sky lighting design and implementation. A suggestion to invite advanced students in civil engineering and community planning was offered with the idea that they could enhance their experience with the information coming from the group. Insight about the community involvement in the grass roots caring of our night sky has relevance in many related educational fields and the group seemed eager to share these concepts.

    Follow up planning will work between volunteers working on sub group projects and will be posted when news is meaningful.


    March 03, 2011:

    On March third the Basin Wide Foundation monthly breakfast hosted a keynote talk presented by our night sky action committee. Victoria and Laraine presented the talk while Samantha Giordano of the G5 office at the Base produced a powerpoint presentation that supported the talk.

    The audience was interested and at times a unanimous raising of hands corroborated an agreed interest in the value of dark skies. some of the key figures in the audience included Mayor Huntington of Yucca Valley, Superintendent Mark Butler for the JTNP, Basin Wide Foundation and many other community leaders.

    As we were on a fast track to make the talk meaningful and to provide a solid statement of the intention of the group, several things happened that are worth reporting.First, the group has established the official name that will be used from now on. We will now be known as the "Morongo Basin Dark Skies Alliance".

    Other things of note include the scheduling of several events where the group will be participating. A meeting with the Home Depot management has set the stage for a demonstration booth at the upcoming Earth Day Celebration and an expansion of the effort to educate the community on the value of modern day methods of economizing with high tech night lighting ideas at the Yucca Valley Earth Day Event.

    Literature and information will be provided by the International Dark Skies Association and flyers supplied by the group. A booth will be set up at the Yucca Valley event and at the Home Depot event as well.

    The next meeting is scheduled for March 23rd at 3:00 PM at the County office of Alan Rasmussen.


    The February 23, 2011:

    Notes by Victoria Fuller

    First we welcomed Rebecca Unger from the Hi-Desert Star and Samantha Giordano, Communications Specialist from Marstel Day to our group. Rebecca is putting together a press release to cover our group, she will be at the Basin Wide meeting on Thursday and will be including information on Earth Hour. Samantha is helping with our presentations and communication ideas and will be at the Basin Wide meeting on Thursday.

    • We covered our presentation for the Basin Wide meeting on Thursday morning – points covered:
    • Keep presentation non-technical – more of “working together we can make a difference”
    • Brochures for tables – Alan is bringing
    • Flyer for presentation – Samantha finalized (PDF attached), Victoria will be bringing copies

    When asking for volunteers we need to be specific – such as volunteers to help with booths or to engage their groups.

    • Laraine & Victoria will do presentation
    • Samantha putting together PowerPoint presentation

    Discussed need to engage schools and students - some ideas

    • Set up science fair project with theme of experiments to reduce light pollution – come up with prize
    • Have student volunteers at some of our Booth

    Mickey & Teri met at JBWD to look at lights and made suggestions :

    Tom, Teri, Rebecca and Victoria met with Home Depot Store Manager (Eric Swanson) and Alisha Maizares (Asst. Store Manager) after our meeting and finalized Earth Day booth – April 22nd & 23rd 9am – 3pm. Home Depot will be ordering a sample of some of the outdoor LED lights to have on display. The fire department will also have a booth those days.

    • NEXT MEETING March 23rd - 3:00pm – 4:30pm - Supervisor Derry’s office


    The February 1, 2011:

    Meeting of the Joshua Basin Night Skies Group took place, as planned, at the County offices of Neil Derry's representative, Alan Rasmussen.

    In the well attended meeting, continued discussion took place about the goals set previously, including, outreach materials such as flyers and pamphlets, a press release stating the goals and scheduling of the groups outreach activities and participation planning for the Earth Hour, Earth Day and Home Depot events.

    Members brought information gathered about the lighting conditions found in the region that related to commercial and institutional lighting. A list of the places documented is in preparation so as to create dialog to initiate and monitor improvements. The hope is to offer help in improving inadequate installation of existing lighting and inform everyone about night sky friendly lighting with suggested solutions.

    The IDA representative, Teri Jackson, brought forward a terrific collection of literature that covered many of the topics concerned in the discussion. The applicable connection created a base for the literature that the group felt was needed and set in motion planning to produce a distilled series of similar flyers and info packs that would help to inform the public in upcoming outreach events.

    A meeting was arranged with the management of the local Home Depot and will take place after the February 23rd meeting adjourns to discuss available compliant lighting fixtures and retrofitted solutions to existing lighting systems. A demonstration outreach event at Home Depot is planned in the near future to display lighting concepts and expand community awareness. The IDA representatives will assist in providing examples of hardware and outreach materials.

    Accelerated planning was discussed and is underway related to the Spring schedule of other events in the community. A timeline of what is happening is creating a calendar so participation in those events is hopeful and being arranged. Starting with Earth Hour, a publicity campaign is planned and the later Earth Day celebration in correlation with the Hi Desert Nature Museum's planning is on the schedule.

    Task groups formed related to many of the needed goals of the agreed activities. The immediate need for a presentation group to address the "Monthly Breakfast" of the Basin Wide Foundation's March 3rd meeting is forming. Added dimension of a possible power point presentation and the general script that meets the needs of the presentation is underway. The message that the group wants to make known and the related relevance to the effort is key to the short timeframe of the presentation.

    The next meeting will be on February 23rd, 2011, at the office of Alan Rasmussen, beginning at 3pm.

    January 6, 2011 Meeting:

    Another terrific gathering of the team working on the dark skies effort took place at the county office of Alan Rasmussen last Thursday, Jan 6.

    Invited guest, Teri Jackson, representing the IDA, came and shared her knowledge and advice related to planning and paths of action for the group to consider.

    Luke Sabala, Joshua Tree National Park's physical scientist and Marlana Brown, from the Marine Corp G-5 office, joined in with the discussion and represented the interest of the organizations they represent.

    During the two hour meeting, discussions arose concerning many topics, including, types of compliant lighting, enforcement issues, educational concepts and approaches, comparative models of successful design, and an overview of the chances for success for the Morongo Basin and related areas.

    All points in the discussion were very positively received and the hope for a great outcome to the challenges were shared amongst the team. Plans for the next list of goals were addressed and task groups agreed to begin, initially, with a survey of the community commercial, business and government lighting presently in place and assess existing conditions that need consideration. Positive and negative aspects the entire community were deemed as having reason for some recognition in the assessment. Praise and acknowledgment for proper and considerate examples of lighting was thought to be a good idea.

    Events like Earth Hour, Earth Day and other celebrations were suggested as places to share information about the outreach efforts. The 75th Anniversary festivities of the Joshua Tree National Park was brought up and planning for involvement in these libations is underway.

    The next meeting is set for February 1, 2011

    December 16, 2010 Meeting:

    We, at SCDVA, are extremely excited and happy to report that an action committee is forming, here in the High Desert, that will address the issues and related concerns about the effects of light pollution on us, and our environment.

    This great news comes at a time when our knowledge now shows how crucially important it is to have a natural appearance in our night sky. Particularly since there is still the opportunity to direct the future and build a smarter and more considerate community.

    The benefits to us are just now being fully realized and consideration of what negative affects there are on the health and well being of all of the residents living in and around the areas surrounding the California Desert regions is being examined. Related environmental review of the harmful impact of light pollution on our immediate neighborhood is also at the forefront of attention. The concern covers much larger areas of interest, and hopes of serving as a model of future development are also part of the effort.

    The group, comprised of community leaders and concerned citizens, is examining information about the analysis of data that has accumulated over the last couple of decades. Measurable and noted changes to the region and the impact that science and economic understanding reflect on the nature of the imposing unnatural condition brought about by light pollution it the night sky is being reviewed. The general regional interest is involved as well as National interest coming from the Joshua Tree National Park. The County of San Bernardino and communities of Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, Morongo Valley, and Joshua Tree are all participating in the discussions and the action committee is preparing a program that will be developed over the next few months.

    The effort of this group will result in a comparative understanding of the effects of what developmental impact did in the past in a negative way and what is available in new technology for improved development of the future. Recommendations coming from the international sources of scientific understanding and other resources that provide insight and opportunity in commercial and economic positive actions that will bring simple cost benefit relationships to the community.

    Job related opportunities coming from the retrofitting of existing systems and the new development of better systems of forward looking business ventures will be strongly and positively built as part of the new technology brought on line. Cost reduction in energy use and conservation of natural resources will be long term benefits realized and healthier and more considerate results will positively affect the environment.

    Regional economic plans based on sustainable programs related to the natural resources available in the community will be positive growth factors coming from an expanded effort in implementing new technological opportunities. Educational programs in these technologies are exportable and invite participation locally and regionally. Serving as a base for economic development in science, art and music, the Morongo Valley region has naturally existing resources that have yet to be fully tapped and offer sustainable and permanent supplies of needed opportunities in future economic development.

    Considering the concepts that come from something as simple as a community caring for the health of a natural night sky, many positive opportunities abound. Simple measures and thoughtful ideas can bring economic and bountiful rewards yet unimaginable. Creative ideas bringing niche opportunities with pride and respect.

    Combine these exciting thoughts with the wonderful area we have in this neighborhood, we have been given a fresh boost of enthusiasm and reason for celebration!