Monday, June 1, 2015

Dark Sky Vote Tomorrow

[Item 14.1 on tomorrow's City Council agenda would allow billboards to continue using upward directed lighting as long as they switch to LEDs. LEDs are good indeed; but that's not the point. Item 12.3 allows for relocating some billboards. Again, that's not a solution. There are good reasons for a dark sky ordinance passed 10 years ago giving all homes and businesses 10 years to comply. Light pollution robs us of our greatest common space: space. When I was a boy in El Paso, I could see the Milky Way from our garage roof. No longer. Research has shown that dark skies are important to animal migration and protection. Dark skies are more conducive to a good night's sleep. Dark sky makes a city more attractive to newcomers and new businesses. It's a huge economic plus. Unfortunately, in El Paso a large corporation, Clear Channel wants a special privilege. 

What is Clear Channel? According to Wikinvest: "Clear Channel Communications Inc. (NYSE: CCU) is a diversified mediacompany with two primary business segments: radio broadcasting and outdoor advertising. Clear Channel is the largest radio broadcasting company in the United States, with 17% of the US radio market and over 1,100 AM and FM radio stations. It also owns a 90% share in the world's largest outdoor advertising division, with over 900,000 billboards in more than 60 countries. In addition, Clear Channel owns or programs 51 television stations and owns a media representation firm. Clear Channel has a market capitalization of $17.2 billion."

$17.2 Billion and they can't comply with a City of El Paso Dark Sky ordinance after 10 years! Of course a $17.2 Billion corporation too often gets to do what it pleases because it owns too many politicians. No wonder why more than 90% of El Paso voters don't vote.

Marci Turner has been leading the charge to preserve our dark sky ordinance and to make Clear Channel comply. Here is her call to action:]

This is a CALL TO ACTION!!!

Friends and Neighbors:

The Outdoor Lighting Industry (Clear Channel) is requesting City Council to change El Paso’s Dark Sky Ordinance which was passed in 2005.  The request is to exempt them (billboards) from complying with our current ordinance which requires all outdoor lighting to be directed downward, not up.  This request defeats the purpose of the ordinance which has, over the past 10 years, provided us with a safer, healthier, and economically enhanced city.  Also, the industry is requesting assistance from the City with billboards which are coming down due to City/State road projects.  The State currently pays the industry for these billboards.  To relocate them is contrary to the original ordinance which focuses on reducing the number of billboards in our city.

Businesses all over El Paso, large and small, have complied with this ordinance during the past 10 years – why should one big, wealthy company be granted an exemption!?!

In order to show our community is aware of these proposed changes and opposes them, it is imperative that you send an email to Council, City Manager, and City Planning.

This is easily done with one email.  Simply type all the addresses in the “to” box, they will be automatically separated by a semicolon.  The same email will go to all recipients.

The email addresses are as follows:  (no need to include names!)

District 1 Ann Morgan Lilly
District 2 Larry Romero
District 3 Emma Acosta
District 4 Carl Robinson
District 5 Michiel Noe
District 6 Claudia Ordaz
District 7 Lily Limon
District 8 Cortney Niland
City Manager Tommy Gonzalez      
Matthew McElroy, City Planning 

Sample letter – use this or create your own!

Dear City Representatives, City Manager, and City Planner,

There are two items of concern to me on the agenda for the council meeting of Tuesday, June 2.  These are:

Item 12.3 (to amend Sign Regulations found in Title 20, Chapter 20.18 of the Municipal Code), and
Item 14.1 (to amend the Outdoor Lighting Code (Title 18, Chapter 18.18).

I am opposed to both of these proposed amendments and exceptions to our city’s code because I do not believe either of them to be in the best interest of El Paso.  I urge you to vote AGAINST both of them. 

Your Name

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