How Ann Arbor’s New Ordinance Could Affect Home Christmas Lights

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (WXYZ) – Before you channel your inner Chevy Chase this holiday season, the city of Ann Arbor hopes you will think twice about what this means for the environment.

“I found it very interesting that people in Ann Arbor were discussing such a topic,” said Craig Rimmerman of Ann Arbor.

In September, Ann Arbor City Council passed a new lighting ordinance aimed at tackling light pollution.

“Light pollution is light that has no function or purpose,” says Sally Oey, professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan. “One of the worst things about light pollution is that it really affects the nighttime environment.”

Oey says human light pollution is causing insect populations to decline and killing up to a billion birds each year by bringing unnecessary light into the night sky. It can also affect the quality of sleep for animals and humans.

“It’s pretty serious because when we’re talking about the destruction of an entire ecosystem that’s there half the time, that’s our natural environment,” Oey said.

The regulation makes an exception for temporary lighting such as Christmas lights, but these are only allowed to be on for three months or 90 days a year and must now be switched off between midnight and 6 a.m.

“Maybe you want to think about it, do you really need to have the super-huge, gleaming white snowman?” And if you really do it, it really has to be four weeks, or a week is fine, ”Oey said.

As this is a new regulation, the city will be taking a more educational approach and is not expecting any quotes this holiday season.

“This could ultimately lead to a quote,” said Brett Lenart, city planning director for Ann Arbor. “This is obviously quite a minor threat to public safety and welfare, so I don’t expect much to happen. ”

So while it’s perfectly legal to be like Chevy Chase between 6 a.m. and midnight, the city hopes you will think twice about the lights coming from your home this holiday season and all year round.

“We really only have to illuminate what is necessary, only light up when it is necessary, not shine bluer than necessary and not shine more than necessary,” said Oey. “Try to think a little more in moderation and the consequences of having lights there.”

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