Cambridge Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Taskforce
In 2013, the City Manager appointed the Outdoor Lighting Task Force (“Task Force”) in response to the City Council’s Policy Order O-29, which requested that the City Manager create a short term task force to consider drafting a municipal ordinance related to outdoor lighting.
The Task Force met eighteen (18) times between December 2013 through April 2016 to identify issues, explore potential solutions and draft recommendations to improve outdoor lighting on public, private residential, and commercial properties throughout the City of Cambridge. The Task Force consisted of four (4) members of the public representing residents, a large property owner/developer, the original petitioner, as well as four (4) City staff members including representatives from the Inspectional Services Department, License Commission, Electrical Department, and the Community Development Department. The City engaged a lighting consultant, Parsons Brinkerhoff, to provide technical expertise and guidance to the Task Force. This process required extensive coordination and integration among the Task Force, City staff, and the lighting consultant, engaging the community at each of the meetings throughout the process.
The Task Force recommendations include three components:
- Draft Outdoor Lighting Ordinance and map of proposed Lighting Zones: The draft Ordinance represents a comprehensive effort to meet Task Force goals in a dense, varied, urban environment especially due to the proximity of some residential and commercial properties. With some exceptions, the proposed ordinance would regulate all outdoor lighting in the City of Cambridge.
- Suggested Changes to Special Permit Application and Article 19: To supplement the proposed ordinance and provide for more fine-grained review of lighting in large projects, changes are recommended to special permit application requirements and Article 19 (Project Review Special Permit) of the Zoning Ordinance. The purpose would be to:
- Ensure that special permit project submittals include information about proposed outdoor lighting, including façade and landscape lighting.
- Require new rooftop lighting for certain buildings to be reviewed by the Planning Board.
- Strengthen reference to design guidelines and references to outdoor lighting to support the Planning Board’s review of outdoor lighting, including on facades and rooftops.
- Draft Good Neighbor Brochure: This represents a key step to the Task Force's Education and Outreach recommendation.
This information was presented to City Council at the June 20, 2016 meeting. At that meeting the City Council referred the proposed Ordinance to the Ordinance Committee, which met October 27, 2016. A video of that meeting is available HERE. The presentation by city staff at that meeting is available HERE. This information was also presented to the Planning Board at the November 1, 2016 meeting.
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