Globe lights on the rooftop of the new College Terrace Centre in Palo Alto are creating light pollution at night, which is affecting nearby homes and yards, according to the center's neighbors, some of whom are asking why the lights are being allowed.
The globes, which adorn the rooftop garden patio and gazebo at the newly built complex at 2100 El Camino Real, cast bright light as far as a block away, said residents on Yale Street.
Malcolm Slaney said the light is creating shadows in his backyard.
"The very fact that they are built into the rooftop garden, they are clearly overkill for task or safety reasons, (which) makes them objectionable. (The developers') application for the permit said that they would do as much as they could to keep office light from impinging on the neighborhood. That's good. But they have completely blown it on the rooftop globes. They could have easily put a down-light in and been better neighbors," Slaney said in an email.
Pria Graves, another nearby resident, said the project's environmental analysis from October 2009 acknowledged the building had significant potential to create substantial light or glare and adversely affect day or nighttime views of neighbors. But the discussion focused on light emanating from inside the buildings, not the rooftop garden perched 30 feet above the ground.
Graves said she mentioned at the time that the proposed remedy only dealt with internal building lights.
"The lighting for the vegetated roof area and gazebo ... will be a visual nuisance to the adjacent and nearby residences and must be addressed," she wrote.
In a later letter to the city's Architectural Review Board, she said, she noted the potential for noise and light from the patio. City senior planner Russ Reich reportedly told Graves that the patio is not intended for night use and would only be accessible during the normal business hours of the office space, she said.
Slaney filed a complaint in December about the lights through the mobile PaloAlto311 app.
In response, Reich wrote that he has been been working with the building owners to address the issue.
"The project has not yet passed its final inspection and addressing the lighting is on the list of issues they must correct," he wrote.
For the time being, Slaney said the lights appear to have been turned off recently, but neither he nor Graves have heard how or when the problem will ultimately be fixed.
Reich said in an email to the Weekly on Thursday that since Slaney's December complaint the developer has been exploring a number of solutions to lower the intensity of the lighting.
"They are looking at reducing the number of LED strips within each light fixture and adding a light shield. ... They also are planning to modify the system such that the globe lights will go off when the grocery store closes each night."