Light Pollution is our Worst Enemy

Letters to the Mayor and Council Members

Light Pollution: Information on latest issues.

Light Pollution slides, by Bob Gent. Bob Gent's slide presentation on Light Pollution.


Keep the Night Sky Dark

The light pollution problem should get special attention from all of our club members and residents of Cochise County. Currently, there are several members actively engaged in curtailing the proliferation of 'bad' lighting. In many areas of Cochise County, rapid growth and development are unfortunately taking place. It has to be a constant and unrelenting effort to keep cities and counties from letting developers, builders, and property owners design and install unshielded and other illegal lights. This region of Southeast Arizona has some of the darkest nighttime skies in the United States, but is also one of the fastest growing regions. Even though Arizona has on the books some of the best lighting ordinances in the United States, they, and local ordinances are often completely ignored, or enforcement by the cities and counties is non-existen--unless you become the 'squeaky wheel', and let them know how you feel about the issue, and demand enforcement.

It's a matter of education, and demanding your voice be heard. Although there is much to be added to this subject, we can only strongly suggest, and highly recommend, that everyone that reads this join the International Dark-Sky Association, the IDA. Their Web site, as well as the Web site for the Southern Arizona IDA, is very informative, their dedication unwavering; their efforts are truly appreciated. However, they need and require support from every amateur and professional astronomer and anyone with a love for the night sky. Please consider joining! The IDA web site is found at: and the SA-IDA is at Thank you!

Night Sky Light Pollution

Light Pollution
Light Pollution
Light Pollution
Light Pollution

Photos taken with a 28mm lens at f/5.6 on 27 November, 2003 from Palominas, AZ. All are 2 minute unguided exposures. The series was started at 2 am using ISO 400 speed print film.

Cochise County Light Pollution Code

To review or print the Revised Code, visit this County link:

The Revised Code became effective in December 2005.
Some features of the Cochise County Light Pollution Code are:

  • Light trespass and off-site glare are not allowed.

  • All lights must be fully shielded except:

    • Low voltage or solar landscape lighting rated at 10 watts or less.

    • A limited number of lights with less than 1,000 lumen output (such as a 60 watt incandescent or quartz halogen or a 13 watt compact fluorescent fixture).

    • One flagpole light (2,000 lumens or less).

  • However, all lights within 25 feet of a residential property must be fully shielded.

  • Lumen caps are established by zoning and use.

  • Floodlights (incandescent or PAR not exceeding 2,000 lumens) are exempt from lumen caps provided they are aimed no more than 45 degrees (halfway between straight down and straight to the side) and are controlled by a motion sensor devise, not to remain on over 10 minutes.

  • Lighted Outdoor Recreation Facilities and Waivers from the Light Pollution Code standards require a Special Use Permit.

  • Temporary exemptions for emergencies exceeding 48 hours require Planning Department approval.

Note: The 'code' only applies to unincorporated areas of Cochise County; incorporated areas must adopt their own municipal code.

Cochise County Zoning Complaint Form

Complete this form if you want the Cochise County Zoning Enforcement Officer to investigate a potential zoning violation:

Local Light Pollution Codes

Benson:  The Outdoor Lighting Regulations are located in Section 17 of the City Code and are available on-line at

Bisbee: The Light Pollution Code is at Article 7.10 (0-94-33, 0-98-10) of the City Code.  It is available on-line in the document center link at

Cochise County:  The new Light Pollution Code became effective in December 2005 and is available on-line at under the Planning and Zoning link.

Douglas The Light Pollution Code is at Chapter 12.32 of Title 12 (Sidewalks, Streets and Public Places) of the Douglas Municipal Code.

Huachuca City:  A Light Pollution Code is currently under consideration for possible adoption in the new town code this summer.

Sierra Vista: The Light Pollution Code is at Section 151.11 (Outdoor Lighting Control) of the City Development Code and a PDF document is available here. The entire city code is available on-line at This city code is under revision as of Janurary 2007.

Willcox The City adopted an ordinance in 1983. They are looking at conforming the City’s ordinance with the stronger ordinance recently adopted by the county to take place in late fall of 2006. 


PDF Documents SV Herald Article, Keeping the Night Sky Dark

PDF Documents SV City Code, Article 151.11, Outdoor Light Control

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