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Posted on: June 17, 2022

Major changes to outdoor lighting ordinance draw concerns from Department of the Corporation Counsel

A Maui County Council bill that would prohibit common types of outdoor lighting is raising concerns with the County of Maui Department of the Corporation Counsel.

Bill 21 would regulate all outdoor lighting fixtures, including swimming pool and decorative lighting, and would require that all lights to be light emitting diode (LED) fixtures that are down directed, fully shielded and mounted as low as physically possible. The bill purports to protect Native Hawaiian birds by limiting light trespass and reflection off of ground surfaces.

The bill, introduced by Councilmember Kelly King, is set for adoption on first reading during the County Council’s meeting on Tuesday, June 21. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. on BlueJeans at https://maui.bluejeans.com/295235670

According to the Department of the Corporation Counsel, the bill, if passed, would:

  • Remove safety exemptions needed for public safety activities such as road construction, emergency repairs, field harvesting and road crossing.
  • Remove exemptions for safety and security lighting for pools and water features, including waterfalls or ponds, necessary to help prevent people from tripping and falling.
  • Regulate lighting on federal and state properties, including airports and harbors.
  • Ban commonly used residential and commercial lighting fixtures, like string lights used to light outdoor patios or string lights used for events on Market Street in Wailuku.
  • Prohibit flood lights, including those that are on a timer for security purposes, and certain footpath lighting and lighting used by campers.
  • Ban lighting used at common events, such as:
  • Outdoor events such as the Makawao Rodeo
  • Bon dances using lanterns on string lights
  • Kahului Sunday Night Market
  • Food truck areas, such as the venues near Costco
  • Outdoor concerts or movies
  • Maui Fair lighting
  • Luau, outdoor parties
  • Use of uplighting for illuminating buildings or landscaping
  • Private sports facilities, such as golf course and driving ranges

Citing concerns with both the County’s ability to comply and enforce the proposed measure, the Department of the Corporation Counsel submitted a memo to the Council detailing the reasons why the bill was not approved as to legality. The memo offers a replacement draft bill that achieves the same environmental policy goals while being enforceable and retaining existing exemptions for common residential and business lighting.

Under Councilmember King’s proposed bill, lighting would have to be shielded and filtered LED, which means that no light could be directed beyond the horizontal plane and lighting cannot emit more than 2 percent blue light. The required filters are not available to the general public, and no industry standards exist for such filters. Lighting that would be non-compliant include string lights, uplighting, and use flood lights.

Those interested in the proposed bill may view it in its entirety on the Council’s Tuesday, June 21, agenda, at www.mauicounty.us or at the following link: https://mauicounty.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=10984684&GUID=F419F42D-3105-4589-8444-36C3AE6D1722

Written testimony may be directed to the county.clerk@mauicounty.us.

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