The purpose of this code is to preserve the relationship of the residents of the City of Tucson, Arizona and Pima County, Arizona to their unique desert environment through protection of access to the dark night sky. Intended outcomes include continuing support of astronomical activity and minimizing wasted energy, while not compromising the safety, security, and well-being of persons engaged in outdoor night time activities. It is the intent of this code to control the obtrusive aspects of excessive and careless outdoor lighting usage while preserving, protecting, and enhancing the lawful nighttime use and enjoyment of any and all property.

This Code is currently being updated by the Outdoor Lighting Code Subcommittee. Once they have completed a Draft Code, it will be reviewed by the Outdoor Lighting Code Committee. They are working with the City to schedule a full committee meeting in April. After the Outdoor Lighting Code Committee reviews and signs off on the draft, a copy will be sent to stakeholders. Afterward, stakeholder meetings moderated by the Outdoor Lighting Code committee will be set up. After the stakeholder meetings, the committee will recommend the adoption of the draft. Then the City of Tucson will recommend adoption by the City Council. Pima County will also obtain P & Z approval. After the P & Z’s approval and Tucson’s City Council Adopted the code, Pima County will recommend adoption by the Board of Supervisors.

Daniel Ice, Pima County, Chief Building Official has provided this additional information:

The pandemic has increased the time frame for writing the draft Code, and the Outdoor Lighting Code Subcommittee has been delayed trying to meet in person to discuss the remaining issues of the rewrite. These items are:

  • The issue of sub-parcel lumen cap assignments. Essentially, when lots get divided, how should the lumen caps be calculated for the new parcels.
  • What is considered reasonable to expect regarding the enforcement of curfews? Should we set limits assuming that we only have goodwill and an easy code for people to follow?

The lot splits have always been confusing and the enforcement is always a challenge. Especially since code enforcement is complaint-based. This time around, we need to spend more time educating the general public on the importance of the lighting code.

The Outdoor Lighting Code Committee is a joint City of Tucson/Pima County code committee. Its mission is to review and recommend amendments to the Outdoor Lighting Code. It consists of 7 members jointly appointed by the County/City meeting the requirements of A.R.S. §11-862 and representative of the construction industry as follows: a professional electrical engineer registered in the State of Arizona; an Arizona registered contractor; an astronomy representative; a dark sky advocate; a lighting design representative; a business community representative; and a member representing the public.

Through this committee, a three-person subcommittee was established to prepare the updated OLC draft. The members are:

  • Dr. Buell Jannuzi, U of A Department Head, the Astronomy Director of Steward Observatory, and has a Ph.D. In Astronomy.
  • Dennis Coon, a Senior Electrical Engineer at Jerome E. McGetrick and Associates
  • Craig Barron, a public representative.

For more information about outdoor lighting and Dark Skies, visit the International Dark Skies Association website.