LED Street Lighting In Santa Fe: The Plan Needs Tweaks & Time Is Running Out As Decision Time Is Upon Us

Barbara Mohon, a Retake supporter, wanted to bring to your attention a critical decision facing the City of Santa Fe related to the proposed change to LED street lighting. Initial reaction would be: great idea. But as this page lays out, there are nuances to how such a plan is implemented that has significant implications for birds, bees and humans. It’s important that we all understand the issue and respond before the deadline. Therefore Santa Fe Conservation Trust is setting up a webinar for Thursday April 29, 2021.  Here’s the link to register:
If possible, please advertise this widely. The information that follows lays out the issues and provides all you need for weighing in with the Mayor and City Council. Read / Act on! From Barbara Mahon.

As you may know, on April 12 Dalkia Energy and the City of Santa Fe announced the start of the “Community Guided Design” process of new LED street lighting throughout the city, which will save energy and costs.  The purpose of this letter is to provide you with information and links to weigh in on the process.  Originally May 10th was the deadline for comments; however it seems it may be earlier. That gives us little time to respond.  

The concerns of the community include reducing the Kelvin rating from the proposed bluish 3,000K residential-4,000K on heavily traffic areas to Kelvin ratings of 2200 for residential areas and up to 2700K for main arteries with dimming capability after 10PM and preventing light trespass (unnecessary light where it is not needed).  Intelligent, properly designed lighting can reduce crime, prevent disability glare that causes accidents, increase traffic safety, protect circadian rhythms of wildlife and humans, and maintain the cultural and historic nature of Santa Fe.  Improper lighting impacts bird migrations and the viability of pollinators and bat populations. Even if you do not live within the city limits, the new LED lighting may impact you, so please make your views heard. Below is the originally proposed map of 3000K – 4000K lighting.  

Please view the link the city has provided with information, planning, the location of the test sites, as well as the comment form for the “Community Guided.” lighting plan for Santa Fe: https://santafe.dalkiasolutions.com/
When the website was launched, Ruskin Hartley, the Executive Director of the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) sent a clarification to Mayor Webber regarding IDA’s position in respect to color temperature of outdoor lighting. This letter is public and available here.

It is extremely important that as many people as possible view the models and/or comment by using the response form on the website. As appropriate, also write to the Mayor and the City Councilors with any specific concerns as they arise (contact info below).  Please read the International Dark Skies guidance on responsible outdoor lighting for information to help guide the project in Santa Fe. https://www.darksky.org/our-work/lighting/values-centered-outdoor-lighting/

What should you look for when you look at these lights? Brightness and shielding can and will be adjusted for safety. When you look at these lights think about their feel: imagine the ambience of your neighborhood and historic Santa Fe, if it is illuminated with this kind of lighting.Thus, as you visit the sites and observe the lighting from the indicated lamps I encourage you to think about the following questions:

  • Is this the kind of light that invites you outside for an evening stroll, or to spend a warm summer’s evening on your porch or patio? Or is it the kind of light that would drive you inside?
  • Are these the kind of lights you would like to see illuminating the Plaza or the historic district?
  • Does this kind of lighting say “Santa Fe”?

As you look at the lights keep in mind that one of the great virtues of modern commercial LED lighting is that any lighting “color” can be deployed to light roads safely. You have the opportunity to help select the feel, mood, ambience of the lighting – from a warm golden amber to a cold but brilliant blue/white – that you’d like to see throughout the city. I have asked for the city to extend the comment period due to the delays and the short window for the public engagement process.  This option may be pursued, if enough people request it.  Please keep informed.
Here are the email addresses for the Mayor & City Councilors

Letters to the editor at the Santa Fe New Mexican can be helpful too. Below is the link:
If you have any questions, please let me know. Please send this email to anyone you think may support our efforts.  

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