A pair of rulings from last week’s meeting of the California Coastal Commission will reduce the number of illuminated digital signs allowed in Eureka’s coastal zone while also limiting how bright they can be.

Once the new rules are adopted by the city, which is scheduled to happen this fall, Eureka businesses that still want to erect digital billboards in the coastal zone will have to submit their plans to the city’s design review committee for approval at a public hearing.

Coastal commissioners, including Humboldt County Supervisor Mike Wilson, said these new restrictions will help to limit encroaching light pollution, and they urged city officials to go even farther to slow the spread of these bright, frequently animated digital advertisements.

During the public comment period, Humboldt Baykeeper Executive Director Jennifer Kalt urged the commission to prohibit these signs throughout Eureka’s coastal zone “to protect wildlife from night glare and protect public safety from distracted drivers on a very dangerous stretch of highway.”
She noted that digital signs, which contain thousands of LED lights, can be up to 10 times brighter than standard illuminated signs, contributing to light pollution and potentially affecting nocturnal wildlife’s eating, foraging and orientation behaviors.

Kalt urged the commission to follow the guidelines of the International Dark-Sky Association, which works to reduce light pollution and offers program guidelines for local governments. 

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