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Neighbor Leaves Lights On All Night, All Nine Floors Lit Up 24/7

November 15, 2007 Downtown, Planning & Design 11 Comments

IMG_4854.JPGA neighbor of mine leaves their lights on all night long, on all nine floors. The neighbor I am speaking of is CPI Corp, the Sears Portrait Studio folks.

At right is the view of the CPI corporate headquarters as seen from my balcony. In the far left is the back of the other building as part of the Printer’s Lofts. For a couple of years now I had wondered why people in the other building with their units facing North had such severe window treatments — privacy I presumed — as they would not have a direct sun issue like those facing South.

The answer, as I am finding out, is light pollution. For the most part it would not be so bad except that on their 4th floor (I’m on the 4th as well) you can see to the left that CPI does not have any window treatments on that large window. Other blinds on that floor are turned just so that light from the bright overhead lights beam directly at our lofts.

I’ve sent a very polite email to the CPI feedback email address, asking them to turn off their lights at the end of the day or at least close the blinds on all the floors. We’ll see what response I get.

Other light streaming in my 4th floor windows are from a condo-owned security light between our buildings and a public street light on Locust, both rather annoying but minor relative to the angle and intensity of the light from CPI.


Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jim Zavist says:

    Welcome to urban living . . . as a Realtor, you should know, caveat emptor . . . and while I agree that leaving the lights on all night and wasting energy ain’t bright , to use a bad pun, weren’t they there first? Why should you, as a new neighbor, expect them to change their ways, to fit what you view is “right”?! Have they broken any laws? Have they paid Ameren? It sounds like the real answer just might be better blinds for your new crib . . . And I’m sure the real, simple answer is that their cleaning crew leaves all the lights on to clean after the worker bees go home, and no one has told them to turn them off as they leave. Alternately, they do run a 24/7 operation, and they need to leave a certain number on for security and safety . . .

    [SLP — Yeah, I figured all these things and thought about including them in the post but I figured you or someone else would point them out.  I did look at the loft late at night but not at midnight, 2am and 4am.  In an urban setting you don’t expect light only from the moon but it is another story to have it shining in your window to the point where you are forced to block your windows.]

  2. john says:

    Bigger problem than most realize except for those who must endure the pain and inconvenience. Although most cities have lighting codes which vary between commercial and residential structures, it is often difficult to get laws enforced. Selective enforcement is the usual result and its value is dependent on whether you or the polluter is favored. This is an important issue to address if the city wants to promote itself to attract more residents.

  3. I suggest doing some quick calcualtions to show the company how much money they can save by turning off SOME of the lights. Even though the lights should be turned off to save energy, odds are the company saving money will get their attention faster. Even if it is for the wrong reasons, hopefully they will change and everybody will win.

  4. Jim Zavist says:

    Well, even in the relative suburbia of the 23rd Ward, we have a streetlight shining into our bedroom window. Our solution is a hanging fern.
    I agree that light trespass is both irritating and hard to quantify, and thus, hard to regulate. It’s also a much bigger challenge in emrging “loft” areas, where industrial uses are becoming residential, and expectations among users are quite different. The regulations I’m familiar with typically are in zoning ordinances and attempt to regulate exterior light sources. Rarely do they attempt to regulate publicly-owned sources (streetlights) or sources from within structures, since too many existing conditions would be(come) illegal, especially in multi-story structures. (I’m also in agreement with many of the arguments for dark skies and energy conservation, but I don’t to muddy the issues on this post.)
    My fundamental point remains the same. This is an existing condition. It’s probably totally “legal” (not in violation of any ordinances). I commend you for taking a direct, “polite”, first step in contacting your new neighbor – hopefully something can be resolved. But much like moving in next to a freeway, airport or pig farm, just because you’re more “elightened” or don’t like something, don’t expect your new neighbor to embrace the wisdom of your arguments, especially in the first week or month of living there!

    [SLP — In my old place I had some light come in from a streetlight and it was kinda nice — it was just enough light to be good but not so much as to be blinding.  And on a 2nd floor and out a short distance from the light.  Here, I’m on the 4th floor and the light is a good 200ft away!]

  5. Ha! I used to work there.. and indeed, there are 24/7 operations going on. or at least there were in the late 90’s. ALL of the Sears Portrait Studio work from around the couintry and aslo Canada comes in there to be proccessed. And if I remember correctly – the major proccessing areas are on the 4th floor.
    But, here’s another tidbit for ya – when I worked there I was told that CPI is the areas largest employer of blind persons! Color film and print proccessing must be done in total darkness, so I guess they figured blind persons wouldbe especially suited to working in the darkrooms.

    [SLP — I understand they are all digital now, certainly a cost savings there as well as a space savings.]

  6. Felton says:

    You fail to mention that the real reason those loft inhabitants have such impressive window treatments is because they stay up till all hours drinking, dancing, drugging, and playing loud music and then they sleep during the day.

  7. Ponalau says:

    This was just an excuse to show us the picturesque view from your balcony, wasn’t it?

  8. LisaS says:

    While I agree that it’s not realistic for urban residents–particularly those in large buildings like the ones Steve and I live in–to expect to have absolute darkness, light trespass is a real concern that contributes to poor sleep (with resultant productivity losses) and huge wastes of energy (with its resultant pollution). On a more superficial level–wouldn’t it be nice to show the kids the Big Dipper without having to drive four hours out of town?

  9. Jim Zavist says:

    I’d be more sympathetic if your neighbor hadn’t been there first. It makes as much sense to make this an issue as it does to move to “the country” and then complain about farming smells and activities, to move next to a freeway and complain about traffic noise, or to move next to an airport and complain about the airplanes flying over. All these examples impact their neighbors in a negative manner yet they serve a useful and likely valid human purpose. Light trespass is no different. Part of buying real estate is investigating, asking questions and making compromises. One big compromise with living downtown is sharing, more closely, space with both residents and existing businesses that may or may not share your views on conservation, light trespass, noise, deliveries, and general cleanliness. If you want it darker (or quieter), you have two options, blackout shades or moving to a suburban or a rural area. To expect an existing business that’s been there 10, 20 , 50 or more years to “change” simply beacuse it bothers you, a new resident, is the type of presumption that gives intellectuals a bad name!

    [SLP — I asked nicely and they closed the blind on the one window, the others are pretty much closed 24/7.  I think they just didn’t realize.]

  10. Jim Zavist says:

    I’m glad it worked out – it just goes to show that being nice can work (sometimes) . . .

  11. Steve Patterson is the light of my life says:

    For years, Barbara Geisman, St. Louis deputy mayor for development, has urged downtown business and property owners to keep their lights on at night. The Gateway Arch, the Civil Courts Building and the Old Courthouse are among downtown’s most notable nighttime attractions.
    “It’s been everyone’s goal to have a 24/7 environment,” said Geisman. “We have all of these wonderful old buildings and this architecture and it’s exciting to see it from a different perspective.”



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