letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Preserve the Darkness of the Night’s Sky


Ben Davis, who is responsible for bringing us the Bay Lights, is looking for more money. $11 million is needed to keep the lights on and he’s out there trying to raise it. Davis and his organization, Illuminate, put lights up all over the place, especially in Golden Gate Park.

Where would Ben Davis and Illuminate be without the dark of the night sky? Without the dark, the Bay Lights and Illuminate’s lighting displays would be meaningless, invisible. They depend on the dark, they need the dark, but they have no respect for it. They take it and use it to their advantage and pay nothing and do nothing to mitigate the damage they may be causing. They are exploiting a natural resource that belongs to everyone.  

The Bay Lights are also a big waste of energy. Our resources are precious and we shouldn’t be wasting them in displays of lighting that serve no practical purpose. And really, aren’t there better uses for the $11 million they’re trying to raise?

“… light pollution poses a serious threat to nocturnal wildlife, having negative impacts on plant and animal physiology. The rhythm of life is orchestrated by the diurnal patterns of light and dark, and disruption of these patterns impacts ecological dynamics.” – Connie Walker, A Silent Cry for Dark Skies, The Universe in the Classroom.

Before the advent of electricity, the night sky was everyone’s favorite picture show. There is an age-old fascination and sense of wonder in observing the stars, moon and planets. The night sky is our common heritage, our link with past cultures and our ancestors. We should all be doing what we can to preserve the dark of the night sky.

“Artificial light at night disrupts a wide range of natural processes. Recent research has shown significant impacts of coastal lighting reducing foraging of intertidal invertebrates, disrupting marine food webs, suppressing movement of juvenile fishes, increasing predation on nesting seabirds…” – Dr. Travis Longcore, associate adjunct professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

To reduce our impact on the planet and climate we should be guided by dark sky lighting principles: Useful – All light should have a clear purpose; Targeted – Light should be directed only to where needed; Low Light Levels – Light should be no brighter than necessary; Controlled – Light should be used only when it is useful; Color – Use warmer color lights where possible. 

David Romano

4 replies »

  1. Thank you David Romano! We should not disrupt the darkness that functions so importantly for the already stressed environment. Let the darkness live!


  2. Awesome letter David!

    Some additional points:

    Ben Davis SELLS “memorial lights” on the Bay Bridge!

    It is not specified how the $11 million breaks down, but we need to look at IILuminate’s 2022 tax return to see how much he is profiting.

    Also, it would be instructive to know what exactly is the energy use and what happens with those bulbs.


    • Hi Harry,

      I want to further explore the selling of the lights but didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with it in this letter. Ben Davis makes a six figure salary; I don’t know what funds might accrue to Illuminate out of the $11 million or what the breakdown of the energy use is or what happens with the bulbs. I’m not at that level of investigative journalism but yes, interesting questions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s