Our City Services

Light Pollution Reduction


Artist representation of a starry sky over Los Angeles


If you live in Salinas or any major city, you’ll know there’s something very unusual in the image above. It’s called the Milky Way, and it’s about as exotic as a Martian sighting.

For most of human history, people could look up at the night sky just about anywhere on Earth and enjoy the splendor of thousands of stars. But if you live in an urban city today, there’s a good chance you’ve never seen more than a dozen.

Two astrophotographers are traveling across the country, visiting some of our nation’s darkest corners to capture rare portraits of the sky. They’re also creating composite and time-lapse photos, such as those shown here, to remind us just how brilliant the night is beneath the thin veil of artificial light.


Artist representation of a starry sky over Los Angeles


Now, these images inspire us city dwellers to what is possible, they also are a reminder of the negative effects of city light pollution. Poor night lighting threatens astronomy and ecosystems, disrupts circadian rhythms, and wastes billions of dollars worth of energy each year. But just maybe, if we knew what we were missing out on, we’d find ourselves more inclined to preserve the night.

Salinas’ Street Light Replacement

One of the intended consequences of Salinas energy efficiency program is residents will notice a change in the night sky.

Replacing over 7,000 facility and street lights with energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lights has not only reduced energy cost, it has tremendously reduced light pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and maintenance cost.

These new LEDs also have directional light which provides more control over what is lit (streets and sidewalks) versus what should remain dark (the night sky). This makes it easier to comply with the Dark Skies Initiative (http://www.darksky.org/), which aims to reduce light pollution and its associated impacts.

Benefits of LED Lighting:

  • Improved lighting
  • Lower energy consumption
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Improved night visibility
  • Significantly longer lifespan
  • Instant-on
  • Less toxic, LED lights contain no mercury or lead and are 100% recyclable
  • Lower environmental negative impacts