Neighbors' Light Pollution

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Neighbors' landscape spotlight aimed at our house

Feb 2015

Our neighbors have a landscape spotlight that is shining directly into our family's bedrooms every night until 1am+, then again starting at 4am, despite closed blinds and curtains. We have repeatedly asked their gardeners to turn it away and they did, but it keeps being turned toward us over and over again. The owners refuse to speak with us, but we asked them in a friendly email to turn it away. For a few days nothing happened, then it even got turned more toward our house, so we have to assume it's spiteful, and going the ''normal'' route of common courtesy did not work. Other cities have rules against ''light pollution'' and ''light trespassing'' (given its proven health impact such as increased cancer rates, sleeplessness and migraines - the last two definitely something we suffer from), but apparently Berkeley does not have an ordinance, so not much legal recourse. Have you experienced light trespass before, with unresponsive neighbors, and how was it resolved? Creative ideas of what should we do?
We need our sleep!

Two suggestions: blackout curtains or blinds, often used by people who work nights and need to block out daylight to sleep. Also, can you plant something that will block the lights? A dense bush or tree?

Ugh, this is so awful. I don't have a good solution, I just wanted to sympathize in case no one else really gets how bad this is. We live in a rental and the rental unit next door changed their lighting so it was incredibly bright in our bedroom at night. One night in a fit of rage I used tape to cover our window on the inside with aluminum foil. Ah, blessed dark! In our case it's a window that faces only those units (so that's their new view, sorry). From our perspective, it's a really unnecessary window that compromised our privacy in an already over-windowed tiny room. We always kept the cheap mini-blinds closed over it anyway. I meant to come up with a better solution but never did.

This probably won't work for you, but if you can't get any other resolution, and you can afford it (we couldn't just then, especially as renters) I'd look into blackout curtains. your cause is just!

Sounds like your best option at this point is to invest in room darkening window shades and/or curtains so you can darken the room when you want to sleep. We have a street light in front of our bedroom window. My sis lived in Anchorage where they have 24 hour sunlight in summer. Room Darkening window shades work.

Why start a war with your neighbor? I bought some black out curtains from Target maybe a month ago. They work really well (some work better than others, these let no light in at all). Problem solved for $25 rather than thousands on litigation. Not to mention stress free. Just make sure you hang the curtain a bit higher than right above the window and a bit longer than the windows as well so that light doesn't leak in through the edges.
Lindsey J

I don't have advice but you SURE have my sympathy!! There is nothing I love more than a dark, cool place to sleep. You are also right about light having some bad health effects. Also, it's not too good for the wildlife.

This is the kind of situation where being friends with Tony Soprano would come in handy, ha ha. But of course we can't go that route. I look forward to the responses you get, and I hope some of them are good.
You could always sue them......