City of Tumwater, Washington

Outdoor Lighting Regulations

Effective January 15th, 2010 the city of Tumwater enacted a comprehensive outdoor lighting ordinance.


A brilliant piece of work!


Ordinance O2009-001







Redmond, Washington


Redmond Wa, ordinance 2109
Adobe Acrobat Document 358.2 KB

Ordinance 2109





MRSC - Light Nuisances - Ambient Light, Light Pollution, Glare

The MRSC - Municipal Research Services Center - has a great web page with a list of Washington State Ordinances.


Please visit:







Bothell, Washington

From http://www.codepublishing.com


8.64.030 Exterior lighting.

Exterior lighting shall be shielded or recessed so that direct glare and reflections are contained within the boundaries of the property, and shall be directed downward and away from adjoining properties and public rights-of-way. No lighting shall blink, flash, or be of unusually high intensity or brightness. All lighting fixtures shall be appropriate in scale, intensity, and height to the use they are serving. Exterior lighting shall be installed so that in no case shall more than one footcandle power of light five feet aboveground cross a property line in a residential zone as measured by a light meter meeting the American National Standards Institute specifications for such instruments. The owner of the property on which the light source is located shall bear the burden of proof that exterior lighting on their property meets these requirements, including the expense of a light meter reading. The meter reading shall be taken by a person deemed qualified by the director. The director shall maintain a list of prequalified persons available to the public. (Ord. 1690 § 1, 1997).

A foot candle may not sound like much, but if it were shining in your bedroom you might think differently.





Roslyn - Cle Elum, Oregon

The new Trendwest resort located next to Roslyn WA, MountainStar, is on its way to preserving it's night sky with this agreement (see below) . Both Trendwest and the environmental group RIDGE saw the value in preserving the night sky in Roslyn, Cle Elum area. Further rulings in preserving the night sky in this area are likely. Thanks Trendwest and RIDGE for your help.

Mountainstar Master Planned Resort

Settlement Agreement Regarding Mountainstar Master Planned Resort Cle Elum Urban Growth Area and Supporting Infrastructure and Services

Chapter 1 Agreement

1.15 Construction and Operation Impacts

1.15.3 Trendwest shall use the International Dark Sky Association ("IDA") Zone E1 standards for the MPR and UGA. The IDA Zone E1 standards are recommended for "Areas with intrinsically dark landscapes. Examples are national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, areas surrounding major astronomical observatories, or residential areas where inhabitants have expressed a strong desire that all light trespass be strictly limited." Trendwest shall incorporate the standards described in this Paragraph 1.15.2 in its MPR and UGA Design Guidelines and/or Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions.

MPR: MountainStar Master Planned Resort (http://www.mtnstar.com/)

UGA: Urban Grow Area





Seattle Municipal Codes

The links that we had are all broken.


Seattle Land Use lighting codes


On May 10th, 2000 I did a search at http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~public/code1.htm

for "light" and turned up the following Seattle Municipal Codes.


  • SMC 23.45.017 Light and glare standards -- Lowrise zones.
  • SMC 23.45.059 Midrise -- Light and glare standards.
  • SMC 23.45.075 Highrise -- Light and glare standards.
  • SMC 23.45.100 Institutions -- Noise, odors, light and glare, and signs.
  • SMC 23.46.020 Light and glare standards.
  • SMC 23.47.022 Light and glare standards.
  • SMC 23.48.030 Light and glare.
  • SMC 23.50.046 Industrial Buffer and Industrial Commercial -- Light and glare standards.
  • SMC 23.55.016 Light and glare from signs.

Related Bills

Council Bill Number: 113156


AN ORDINANCE relating to land use and zoning; amending Sections 23.44.017, 23.45.100, 23.45.112 and 23.47.022 of the Seattle Municipal Code to allow taller lighting standards for public school playfield lighting where necessary to improve safety for athletic participants and minimize impacts of glare and light spill.


This Bill is (to the best of my knowledge) to allow the following Seattle Schools to have Athletic Lighting


  • Nathan Hale High
  • Ingram High
  • Rainier Beach High

If you know of anything, please live a comment!





City of Pullman Zoning Code Chapter 17.35

Thanks to a Pullman resident for sending us this one.


[Available from: http://www.pullman-wa.gov/DrawOnePage.aspx?PageID=46]


The code states that lights shall not create glare on adjacent properties and establishes an maximum level of light trespass (0.5 fc). This code does not address the issue of sky glow.



Chapter 17.35


17.35.090 Light and Glare.

(1) All sources of illumination shall be directed and, when necessary,
shielded so as not to produce directed glare on adjacent properties.

(2) No industrial or commercial use shall cause a level of illumination 
exceeding 0.5 footcandles in a contiguous or adjacent residential district. 
Light intensity shall be measured using the procedures established by the 
Illuminating Engineering Society in the current IES Lighting Handbook.

(3) No source of intense light or glare, such as arc welding shall be visible 
from any point beyond the property line of the use generating that light or 
glare. Construction welding is exempt from this standard. (Ord. No. 87-9 §1, 1987).





Island County, Washington

From Stanwood/Camano News 3/28/2000 (Reproduced with permission)

The Light Rules

New, tougher lighting rules are now in effect in Island county's unincorporated areas. They apply to everybody -- private property as well as businesses -- and existing lighting must comply to the new rules within three years. Here's a look at some key parts of the law:


  • Lighting fixtures must be shielded, hooded and oriented towards the ground so that direct rays are not visible past the property boundaries and do not shine into the night sky. Motion- sensing devices are encouraged.
  • No lighting can blink, flash or be of unusually high intensity or brightness.
  • New or replacement lighting on county roads must be shielded and pointed downward.
  • Seasonal decorative lighting is OK.
  • Temporary, emergency lighting is OK
  • Lighting at public athletic fields, fairgrounds and approved temporary special events is OK.
  • Fixtures of 60 watts or less are OK.
  • Exemptions include lighting fixtures that use only fossil fuels, including luminaria, or incandescent lighting fixtures installed on residential structures, fixtures that light parking areas, driveways, private sports areas or outbuildings are not exempt.
  • Externally lit signs must be illuminated only with steady, stationary, shielded light sources directed downward onto the sign without causing glare. Light bulbs or lighting tubes used for illuminating a sign cannot be visible form adjacent public right-of-ways or residential properties.
  • The intensity of sign lighting must not exceed that necessary to illuminate and make a sign legible. In any event, it can't be obtrusive to other areas.
  • Internally illuminated signs are prohibited.
  • A sign may be illuminated during the hours of operation of the facility being identified or advertised, or until 11 p.m., whichever is later. Such signs must have an automatic timer.


New rules on signs are also in place. Hers' a brief glance at some of the main points:

  • Only one sign can be located on the premises, not exceeding nine square feet in area per side. Larger signs may be considered if architecturally integrated into and attached to the building. No sign may exceed eight feet in height.
  • A sign, including its supporting structure and components, shall be compatible in design to the building it's attached to or to surrounding structures as determined by the planning director.
  • Sign colors shall be architecturally compatible and be of sufficient contrast to be legible, but subdued enough to blend with the natural landscape and/or surrounding structures. The majority of the background area of a sign, exclusive of any letter, words or symbols, must be of earth or dark color or made of materials such as rock, natural wood, old wood, tile, brick, etc. Bright or fluorescent colors and reflective surfaces in the background area of the sign are prohibited.
  • All light fixtures, conduit and shielding must be painted to match either the building or the supporting structure that serves as the background of the sign.
  • No more than one freestanding identification sign can be located on the main entrance to the complex or project, and monument-style signs are preferred over pole-mounted signs. Freestanding signs up to 18 feet high, and monument signs up to 10 feet high may be OK.
  • Flashing signs, moving light signs and off-premise signs are prohibited, except for time-temperature-date signs.
  • Attached signs can't exceed by more than four feet the height of the building or structure to which they are attached.
  • Total signage can't exceed 100 square feet in are per business. Of that, freestanding signs can't exceed 40 square feet in area per side.
  • Signs in windows, such as logos, "Open", "Beer", etc. don't count toward the allowed sign area.





City of Bainbridge Island

ORDINANCE NO. 2002 - 15


AN ORDINANCE of the City of Bainbridge Island, Washington, relating to outdoor lighting on public and private property; adding a new Chapter 15.34 to the Bainbridge Island Municipal Code; amending Section 1.26.010; and repealing Section 16.08.080 of the Bainbridge Island Municipal Code.


WHEREAS, the City has determined that the provisions contained in this Ordinance will protect the historical legacy of the night sky, and provide enjoyment of the night sky in the City for future generations; and


WHEREAS, the City has determined that the provisions contained in this Ordinance are intended to encourage through the regulation of the types, kinds, construction, installation, and uses of outdoor electrically powered illuminating devices, lighting practices, and lighting systems that reduce costs and conserve energy and resources, and help protect natural resources; and


WHEREAS, the City wishes to maintain safety, health, security, and productivity, while enhancing nighttime enjoyment of property within its jurisdiction; and


WHEREAS, the City has determined that the provisions contained in this Ordinance will encourage awareness by improving access to the City's lighting codes, through code coordination and consolidation into one Ordinance; now therefore,




Section 1. A new Chapter 15.34 is added to the Bainbridge Island Municipal Code as follows:


Chapter 15.34




15.34.010 Purpose


15.34.020 Definitions


15.34.030 Applicability


15.34.040 Exemptions - Decision Criteria


15.34.050 General Standards


15.34.060 Further Restrictions


15.34.070 Submittals


15.34.080 Penalties for Violations


15.34.090 Severability


15.34.100 Figures


15.34.010 Purpose. The purpose of this Chapter is to provide regulations that preserve and enhance the view of the dark sky; promote health, safety, security, and productivity; and help protect natural resources. The provisions of this Chapter are intended to control glare and light trespass. It is the intent of this Chapter to provide standards for appropriate lighting practices and systems that will enable people to see essential detail in order that they may undertake their activities at night, facilitate safety and security of persons and property, and curtail the degradation of the nighttime visual environment.


15.34.020 Definitions. The following terms have the following definitions for purposes of this Chapter:


"Accent lighting" means any luminaire that emphasizes a particular object or draws attention to a particular area for aesthetic purposes.

"Cut-off angle" (of a luminaire) means the angle, measured from the lowest point between a vertical line from the center of the lamp extended to the ground and the first line of sight at which the bare source is not visible.

"Director" means the Director of the Department of Planning and Community Development.

"Fixture" (also called a "Luminaire") means a complete lighting unit including the lamps, together with the parts required to distribute the light, to position and protect the lamps, and to connect the lamps to the power supply.

"Foot-candle" means a measure of illuminance or a measure of how bright a light appears to the eye. One foot-candle is equal to one Lumen/ft2. As an example, a typical 60-watt incandescent lamp (840 lumens) produces an illuminance of 0.1 foot-candles at a distance of about 25 feet.

"Fossil fuel light" means any outdoor lighting fixture producing light directly by the combustion of natural gas or other fossil fuel.

"Lamp" means the light-producing source installed in the socket portion of a luminaire.

"Light pollution" means general sky glow caused by the scattering of artificial light in the atmosphere and resulting in decreased ability to see the natural night sky.

"Light trespass" means any light emitted by an outdoor luminaire that shines directly beyond the property on which the luminaire is installed, or indirectly shines beyond the property on which the luminaire is installed at a brightness (illuminance) that exceeds 0.1 foot-candles at the property line.

"Luminaire" - see definition for "Fixture. "

"Outdoor lighting fixture" means a luminaire outside of an enclosed building or structure or any luminaire directed such that it primarily illuminates outdoor areas.

"Shielding" means that no light rays are emitted by a fixture above the horizontal plane running through the lowest point of the fixture.

"Spotlight" means any lamp that incorporates a reflector or a refractor to concentrate the light output into a directed beam in a particular direction.

15.34.030 Applicability.


All outdoor lighting fixtures installed on private and public property shall comply with this Chapter. This Chapter does not apply to interior lighting; provided, that if it is determined by the Director that any interior lighting emitting light outside of the building or structure in which it is located creates a light trespass, the interior lighting shall be subject to the requirements of this Chapter. Types of outdoor lighting to which this Chapter applies include, but are not limited to lighting for:

Building and structures including, but not limited to, overhangs and canopies.

Recreational areas.

Parking lot lighting.

Landscape lighting.

Lighting on docks and piers, unless otherwise regulated by BIMC 16.12

Street lighting.

B. The City’s Department of Planning and Community Development shall administer and enforce this Chapter.


C. In the event of a conflict between the requirements of this Chapter and any other requirement of the Bainbridge Island Municipal Code the more restrictive requirement shall apply.


15.34.040 Exemptions.


A. The following are exempt from the provisions of this Chapter:


1. Traffic control signals and devices.


2. Street lights installed prior to the effective date of this Chapter, provided that when a street light fixture becomes inoperable, any replacement street light fixture shall be subject to the provisions of this Chapter.


3. Temporary emergency lighting (i.e. fire, police, repair workers) or warning lights.


4. Moving vehicle lights.


5. Navigation lights (i.e. radio/television towers, docks, piers, buoys) or any other lights where state or federal statute or other provision of the Bainbridge Island Municipal Code requires lighting that cannot comply with this Chapter. In such situations, lighting shall be shielded to the maximum extent possible, and lumens shall be minimized to the maximum extent possible, while still complying with state or federal statute.


6. Seasonal decorations do not have to be shielded, provided that they do not have a brightness of more than 0.1 foot-candles at the property line on which they are installed.


7. Outdoor lighting approved by the Director for temporary or periodic events (e.g. fairs, nighttime construction).


8. Internally and externally illuminated signs regulated by BIMC 15.08.


9. Fossil fuel lights.


10. Existing lights in use before 9:00 p.m., provided that no more than .1 foot-candle of direct light shines off the subject property, as measured at the property line.


15.34.050 General Standards. The following general standards shall apply to all non-exempt outdoor lighting fixtures and accent lighting:


A. All light trespass is prohibited.


B. Outdoor lighting fixtures and accent lighting must be shielded and aimed downward. Examples of acceptable and unacceptable light pollution control shielding are shown in Figures 1 through 4 in BIMC 15.34.100. The shield must mask the direct horizontal surface of the light source. The light must be aimed to insure that the illumination is only pointing downward onto the ground surface, with no escaping direct light permitted to contribute to light pollution by shining upward into the sky.


C. All outdoor lighting fixtures and accent lighting shall be designed, installed, located and maintained such that there is no light trespass (See Figure 3 in BIMC 15.34.100).


D. Outdoor lighting fixtures and accent lighting shall not directly illuminate public waterways such as Puget Sound, even if the tidelands are privately owned, unless it is a navigational light subject to state or federal regulations.


E. Accent lighting shall be directed downward onto the illuminated object or area and not toward the sky or onto adjacent properties (See Figure 4 in BIMC 15.34.100). Direct light emissions of such accent lighting shall not be visible above the roof line or beyond the building, structure, or object edge.


F. Spotlighting on landscaping and foliage shall be limited to 150 watts incandescent (2220 lumens output).


15.34.60 Prohibited


A. The following fixtures (luminaires) are prohibited:


1. Searchlights for any other purpose other than temporary emergency lighting.


2. Laser lights or any similar high-intensity light for outdoor use or entertainment, when projected above the horizontal plane.


3. Quartz lamps


4. Mercury vapor lamps


B. The City reserves the right to further restrict outdoor lighting including, but not limited to, pole height, and level of illumination, when it is deemed to be in the best public interest consistent with the purpose of this Chapter.


15.34.070 Submittals. All building permit applications including the installation of outdoor lighting fixtures shall provide evidence of compliance with the requirements of this Chapter on a form provided by the Department of Planning and Community Development.


15.34.080 Penalties for violation. Any violation of the provisions of this Chapter shall constitute a civil infraction, enforceable pursuant to BIMC 1.26, Code Enforcement.


15.34.090 Severability. If any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of this Chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstances shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such order or judgment shall be confined in its operation to the controversy in which it was rendered and shall not affect or invalidate the remainder of any part thereof to any other person or circumstances.


Section 15.34.100 Figures of acceptable shielding and direction of outdoor light fixtures. The following four figures illustrate acceptable and unacceptable outdoor lighting fixtures in the City.


Figure 1: Wall mounted lights.


Figure 2: Free standing outdoor lighting fixtures.


Figure 3: Outdoor lighting fixtures - Street and lot light cut-off at property line.


Figure 4: Accent lighting.


Figure 1. Wall mounted lights.

Figure 1. Wall mounted lights.

Figure 2. Free standing outdoor lighting fixtures.

Figure 3. Outdoor lighting fixtures - Street and lot light cut-off at property line.

Figure 4. Accent lighting.

Section 2.BIMC 16.08.080 is repealed.


Section 3. Section 1.26.010 of the Bainbridge Island Municipal; Code is amended to read as follows:


1.26.010Applicability of chapter. The provisions of this chapter shall apply to enforcement of Title 18 and Chapters 16.20, 16.22, 15.34 and 15.04 of this code, with the exception of Sections 15.04.090 and 15.04.110 and the Uniform Fire Code adopted by reference in Section 15.04.020. For purposes of this chapter, such titles and chapters shall be referred to as "the applicable chapters and titles of this code."


Section 4. This ordinance shall be effective on January 1, 2003.


PASSED by the City Council this 14th day of August, 2002.


APPROVED by the Mayor this 15th day of August, 2002.




________________________________Darlene Kordonowy, Mayor








Susan P. Kasper, City Clerk






Rod P. Kaseguma, City Attorney








PUBLISHED : August 21, 2002


EFFECTIVE DATE : January 1, 2003



Ordinances of Washington