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Riverside County Supervisors Approve Outdoor Lighting Restrictions

RIVERSIDE (CBS)  — Riverside County supervisors today approved an ordinance Tuesday mandating fines up to $500 for property owners whose outdoor lights create an overnight nuisance.

After a third public hearing on Supervisor John Tavaglione's proposed "light trespass" measure, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 -- with Supervisors Marion Ashley and Jeff Stone absent -- to implement it.

"We've gone over and above what's necessary to make this a good ordinance," Tavaglione said. "It may need tweaking as time goes on. If so, we'll tweak it."

The ordinance, which takes effect in 30 days, requires that all outdoor light fixtures "be located, adequately shielded and directed such that no direct light falls outside the parcel of origin, or onto the public right-of- way" and "shall not blink, flash or rotate."

There were a number of exceptions added to the measure over the last two months as concerned residents contacted board members to complain about regulations that could impact businesses or disrupt holiday displays.

Outdoor lights that are exempt from regulation include:
-- Holiday decorations;
-- lights used to illuminate public property, including parks and streets;
-- lights used by law enforcement or other emergency personnel;
-- lights for public and private monuments;
-- neon lights; and
-- lights used for agricultural operations, such as grape harvesting.

The ordinance, which applies only to unincorporated communities, sets penalties for property owners who allow their exterior "luminaires" to shine too brightly, infringing on neighbors' lots.

A complaint of light trespass would have to be filed with the sheriff's or code enforcement departments, whose personnel would conduct a follow-up investigation to confirm the violation.

The first two violations in a six-month period would be classified as infractions. A third offense in a six-month period would be treated as a misdemeanor.

The minimum fine for a first offense would be $100. The penalty for a second offense would be $250, and the penalty for three or more offenses would be $500 -- with the possibility of up to six months in county jail.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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