Truckee explores ways to keep night dark
The town of Truckee may add new rules to ensure that the stars in Truckee will continue to shine brighter.
While the town already has some night-lighting standards in place, public desire for darker night skies may be reflected in the ongoing update of the town’s development code.
“I think the bumper sticker, ‘The stars shine brighter in Truckee,’ is funny; it should say the stars used to shine brighter,” said Eric Larusson, a former planning commissioner and night-sky standards advocate. “It’s an aesthetic thing — quality of life.”
Larusson said he has seen changes in the brightness of the stars visible above Truckee in the last two decades.
“I love it up here. I grew up at elevation and had friends that live down the hill, and I was always amazed at how much brighter the stars were up the hill,” Larusson said.
Town Planner Duane Hall said existing town standards require lights to be shielded, directing light down rather than up or out. Street lights are also restricted in height to 20 feet or less, he said.
“Those standards have been somewhat successful,” Hall said. “But during the general plan update, town council said, ‘We pride ourselves on our environment, so let’s see what we can do more to minimize light pollution.'”
A major part of the development code update, discussions on night lighting will likely start in February or March, Hall said, with the town using information from the International Dark-Sky Association and other municipalities with standards already in place.
Truckee would also likely work with unincorporated Nevada County and the Martis Valley portion of Placer County to keep collective light pollution low, Hall said.
“You don’t see many streetlights in Truckee,” Hall said. “When they come up in new developments, the public overwhelmingly says, ‘No, not in Truckee.'”
The plan would probably vary from one part of town to the next, he said, catering to different needs.