• CDD >
  • Projects >
  • Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Task Force

Cambridge Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Task Force

Lighting and Signage outside the Central Square Theater

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:
    1. Ensure that special permit project submittals include information about proposed outdoor lighting, including façade and landscape lighting.
    2. Require new rooftop lighting for certain buildings to be reviewed by the Planning Board.
    3. 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.
  3. 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.

The Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Task Force has concluded its work and the proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance is with the City Council Ordinance Committee. 

Should additional meetings be scheduled, this page will be updated to reflect meeting information.


Join the Mailing List

Email Join the Cambridge Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Task Force email list.


October 31, 2016

Please find a copy of the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Presentation from October 27, 2016 here.

October 4, 2016

Please be advised that Councillors Carlone and Cheung have scheduled Ordinance Committee hearings for Thursday, October 27, 2016 in the Cambridge City Hall Sullivan Chamber as follows:

3:00 P.M. - Proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinances to amend four sections in Article 19.000 intended to complement the proposed new Municipal Lighting Ordinance by strengthening the review of outdoor lights in significant new development.

5:00 P.M. - Proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Title Fifteen entitled “Buildings and Construction” by adding a new Chapter 15.22 entitled “Outdoor Lighting.”

For more information on this Ordinance Committee Hearing, click here.

September 26, 2016

The proposed Outdoor Lighting Zoning Recommendations will be presented at the September 26, 2016 City Council meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. as a part of the City Manager's Agenda.

Click here for more information.

June 20, 2016

The proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance will presented at the June 20, 2016 City Council meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. as part of the City Manager's Agenda.

Click here for more information.

May 11, 2016

The Task Force Members will be meeting on Wednesday, May 11th at 4:00 PM to discuss the cover memorandum to be submitted to the City Manager with the proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance. The meeting will take place in the ISD conference room in the basement of the Lombardi Building, 831 Massachusetts Avenue.

This is an open meeting but public comment will not be taken.

The proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance by the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Task Force is posted under the Documents Tab and also under the Meeting #17 in the Presentation, Meeting Notes, and Materials Tab. This includes both the Redlined and NonRedlined versions dated May 2, 2016. This proposed draft is under review by the Law Department. After the review, the Task Force will present the City Manager with a recommendation.

Notes from the April 27th meeting are posted under the Meeting #17 in the Presentation, Meeting Notes, and Materials Tab.

Meeting #18 - May 11, 2016 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Discussion by Task Force Members of Proposed Memorandum of Recommendations to the City Manager.

Meeting #17 - April 27, 2016 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Recap of Final DRAFT of the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, remaining issues to be resolved, next steps.

  • Discussion by Task Force Members of Proposed Memorandum of Recommendations to the City Manager.

Meeting #16 - April 7, 2016 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Recap of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, remaining issues to be resolved, next steps.

  • Discussion by Task Force Members about proposed draft and additional revisions.

Meeting #15 - March 10, 2016 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M. (New Meeting)

  • Presentation on the LEED Light Pollution Reduction Credit and how it would work with the proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance.
  • Discussion by Task Force Members about proposed draft and additional revisions.

Meeting #14 - February 25, 2016 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Recap of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, remaining issues to be resolved, next steps.

  • Discussion by Task Force Members about proposed draft and additional revisions.

Meeting #13 - January 28, 2016 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Recap of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, remaining issues to be resolved, next steps.
  • Discussion by Task Force Members about proposed draft and additional revisions.

Meeting #12 - December 16, 2015 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Recap of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, remaining issues to be resolved, next steps.
  • Discussion by Task Force Members about proposed draft and additional revisions.

Meeting #11 - December 3, 2015 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

  • Recap of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, remaining issues to be resolved, next steps.
  • Discussion by Task Force Members about proposed draft and additional revisions.

Meeting #10 - November 4, 2015 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Recap of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, remaining issues to be resolved, next steps.
  • Discussion by Task Force Members about proposed draft and additional revisions.

Meeting #9 - October 22, 2015 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Recap of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, remaining issues to be resolved, next steps.
  • Discussion by Task Force Members about proposed draft and additional revisions.

Meeting #8 - September 16, 2015 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Recap of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, remaining issues to be resolved, next steps.
  • Discussion by Task Force Members about proposed draft and additional revisions.

Meeting #7, June 10, 2015 5:00 P.M. - 7:00 P.M.

  • Review of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance draft provided by the Law Department based on recommendations from the Outdoor Lighting Task Force.
  • Review of proposed Good Neighbor Outdoor Lighting Brochure

Meeting #6, August 20, 2014 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Review of draft of revised Outdoor Lighting Ordinance draft.

Meeting #5, May 21, 2014 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Review of proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance draft and Performance Lighting District Map.

Meeting #4, April 2, 2014 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Continued presentation on possible recommendations that could be included in an outdoor lighting ordinance.

Meeting #3, February, 26, 2014, 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Presentation on possible recommendations that could be included in an outdoor lighting ordinance.

Meeting #2, January 15, 2014, 4:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M.

  • Walking tour of residential and commercial areas to review concerns with customary lighting.

Meeting #1 – December 4, 2013, 4:00 P. M. - 6:00 P. M.

  • Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Agenda and Scope of Work
  • Existing Cambridge Lighting Ordinances
  • Planning Board Recommendations
  • Presentation of Model Lighting Ordinance and Best Practices from other Cities
  • Discussion by Committee and Next Steps

Task Force Members:

  • Carol Lynn Alpert - Resident Representative
  • Andrea Boyer - License Commission
  • Peter Calkins - Commercial Property Representative
  • David Chilinski - Resident and Business Representative
  • Steve Lenkauskas - Electrical Department
  • Ranjit Singanayagam - Inspectional Services Department
  • Charles Teague - Resident Representative
  • Bob Woodbury - Resident Representative

Lighting Consultant:

  • Paul Lutkevich, Vice President - Technical Director, Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Jeffery Berg, Lighting Design - Supervising Architect, Parsons Brinckerhoff

Project Staff:

Chris Basler, Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Project Manager, Community Development Department. Chris Basler can be reach via phone at 617/349-4601 or via email at cbasler@cambridgema.gov.

  • Andrea Boyer - License Commission
  • Lt. Leonard DiPietro - Police Department
  • Iram Farooq - Community Development Department
  • Lisa Hemmerle - Community Development Department
  • Steve Lenkauskas - Electrical Department
  • Jeff Roberts - Community Development Department
  • Ranjit Singanayagam - Inspectional Services Department

Meeting #18 - May 11, 2016

Meeting #17 - April 27, 2016

Meeting #16 - April 7, 2016

Meeting #15 - March 10, 2016

Meeting #14 - February 25, 2016

Meeting #13 - January 28, 2016

Meeting #12 - December 16, 2015

Meeting #11 - December 3, 2015

Meeting #10 - November 4, 2015

Meeting #9 - October 22, 2015

Meeting #8 - September 16, 2015

Meeting #7 - June 10, 2015

Meeting #6 - August 20, 2014

Meeting #5 - May 21, 2014

Meeting #4 - April 2, 2014

Meeting #3 - February 26, 2014

Meeting #2 - January 15, 2014

Meeting #1 - December 4, 2013

If you would like to receive information about this task force and updates, please contact Rona Abrahams at rabrahams@cambridgema.gov or 617/349-4637 to be added to the e-mail notification list. You can also use this form to join the email list.