Light Pollution Targeted in Earth Day Legislation by Kallos to Protect Wildlife, Improve Stargazing, Conserve Energy and Help New Yorkers Get a Good Night’s Sleep

New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York, NY – Light pollution can harm wildlife and make it hard to stargaze let alone for New Yorkers to get a good night’s sleep. Under new legislation from Council Member Ben Kallos, street lights would be “fully shielded” to stop them from shining up into the sky or the windows of nearby residents, instead only illuminating the sidewalks and streets intended.

“New York City may be the city that ‘never sleeps’, but that shouldn’t be because of a street light outside your bedroom window. Fully shielded light fixtures will brighten up the day with fewer sleep deprived New Yorkers walking around in a bad mood,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Fully shielded light fixtures will reduce light pollution to conserve energy, protect wildlife, improve stargazing, and help New Yorkers get a good night’s sleep.”


                 Unshielded                         Partially Shielded                      Fully Shielded      

Types of light pollution include:

  • Glare – excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort.
  • Over-Illumination – providing too much lighting and wastes energy.
  • Clutter – bright, confusing, and excessive groupings of light source.
  • Skyglow – brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas reducing visibility of stars.
  • Light Trespass – light falling where it is not intended, needed and often unwelcome.

Impacts on wild life includes removing necessary rest periods for plant life, interfering with migratory patterns of birds, reducing activity areas for nocturnal insects and animals, and more.

“We may be the “City that never sleeps”, but the residents do, and this legislation will help control stray light entering our bedrooms, disrupting human Circadian rhythms, affecting our sleep, mental alertness, and productivity.  The “wise use” of energy outlined in this bill is essential to reduce light pollution and the resulting air and water pollution from excess energy."

"The sky above most cities in the world is now illuminated to such an extent at night that the stars have all but disappeared. Of all U.S. regions, the Northeast contributes the most to light pollution. In NYC, we have a special responsibility to eliminate unnecessary lighting. This legislation is necessary to ensure that NYC street lights will light our sidewalks and streets rather than the sky," said Lisa DiCaprio, Sierra Club NYC Group Conservation Chair and Chair of the Sierra Club Committee on City Council Energy Initiatives.”

Legislative Text:

Int. No.

By Council Members Kallos and Richards


To amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring usage of full cutoff light fixtures on street lights.

Be it enacted by the Council as follows:

Section 1. Chapter 1 of title 19 of the

administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding section 19-113.1 to read as follows:

§ 19-113.1 Requiring full cutoff light fixtures to be used on city streets

            a. For purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

                        1. "Full cutoff light fixture" shall mean a light fixture or luminaire constructed and installed in such a manner that all light emitted from the luminaire, either directly from the lamp or a diffusing element, or indirectly by reflection or refraction from any part of the fixture, is protected below the horizontal plane through the fixture's lowest light emitting part.

                        2. "Street light" shall mean any light hanging from a pole that is designed to illuminate an outdoor area, whether on public or private property, and where the bottom of the fixture of such light is greater than ten feet off of the ground.

            b. Any new or replacement light fixture in any street light shall only use a full cutoff light fixture.

            c. This section shall not be construed to impair in any manner the approval authority of the landmarks preservation commission where compliance with subdivision b of this section requires the use of a full cutoff light fixture.

§2. This local law shall take effect sixty days after enactment.



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