International Dark-Sky Association (IDA)
3545 N. Stewart Ave., Tucson AZ 85716 U.S.A.
Revised Tucson and Pima County Arizona
Outdoor Lighting Control Ordinances
IDA Information Sheet No. 91 (April 1994)
Ordinance No. 8210.
Tucson/Pima County Outdoor Lighting Code, 1994 Edition
(This is the City of Tucson version, with a few notes of differences to the
Passed by the Mayor and Council of the City of Tucson, Arizona, 21 March 1994.
Section 1. Purpose and Intent. The purpose of this Code is to provide
standards for outdoor lighting so that its use does not unreasonably interfere
with astronomical observations. It is the intent of this Code to encourage,
through the regulation of the types, kinds, construction, installation, and
uses of outdoor electrically powered illuminating devices, lighting practices
and systems to conserve energy without decreasing safety, utility, security,
and productivity while enhancing nighttime enjoyment of property within the
Section 2. Conformance with Applicable Codes. All outdoor electrically
powered illuminating devices shall be installed in conformance with the
provisions of this Code, the Building Code, the Electrical Code, and the Sign
Code of the jurisdiction as applicable and under appropriate permit and
Section 3. Approved Materials and Methods of Construction or
Installation/Operation. The provisions of this Code are not intended to
prevent the use of any design, material, or method of installation or
operation not specifically prescribed by this Code, provided any such
alternate has been approved. The building official may approve any such
proposed alternate providing he finds that it:
- a. provides at least approximate equivalence to that applicable specific
requirements of this Code
- b. is otherwise satisfactory and complies with the intent of this Code;
- c. has been designed or approved by a registered professional engineer
and content and function promotes the intent of this Code.
Section 4. Definitions. As used in this Code, unless the context
clearly indicates, certain word and phrases used in this chapter shall mean
Section 5. Shielding. All nonexempt outdoor lighting fixtures shall
have shielding as required by Table 5 of this Code.
- Sec. 4.1. "Person" means any individual, tenant, lessee, owner, or any
commercial entity including but not limited to firm, business,
partnership, joint venture or corporation.
- Sec. 4.2. "Installed" means the attachment, or assembly fixed in place,
whether or not connected to a power source, of any outdoor light fixture.
- Sec. 4.3. "Outdoor light fixture" means outdoor electrically powered
illuminating devices, outdoor lighting or reflective surfaces, lamps and
similar devices, permanently installed or portable, used for
illumination or advertisement. Such devices shall include, but are not
limited to search, spot, and flood lights for:
1. buildings and structures;
2. recreational areas;
3. parking lot lighting;
4. landscape lighting;
5. billboards and other signs (advertising or other);
6. street lighting;
7. product display area lighting;
8. building overhangs and open canopies.
- Sec. 4.4. "Area A" means the circular area, thirty-five miles in
radius, the center of which is the center of the Kitt Peak National
Observatory; the circular area, twenty-five miles in radius, the center
of which is the center of Mount Hopkins Observatory; while the boundary
lines for Area A around Mt. Lemmon are defined as: The Pinal County
line on the north, along the center line of the Santa Cruz River, to
the center line of the Rillito Creek, to the center line of Tanque
Verde Creek with the junction to the northern border of the Saguaro
National Monument, then along that border until it ends on the east
side and bends east to the County line.
- Sec 4.5. "Area B" means all area outside Area A and outside the
territorial limits of every Indian reservation lying wholly or partially
within Pima County.
- Sec. 5.1. "Fully shielded" means outdoor light fixtures shielded or
constructed so that no light rays are emitted by the installed fixture
at angles above the horizontal plane as certified by a photometric test
- Sec. 5.2. "Partially shielded" means outdoor light fixtures shielded or
constructed so that no more than ten percent of the light rays are
emitted by the installed fixture at angles above the horizontal plane
as certified by a photometric test report.
Area A Area B
Fixture Lamp Type Shielded Shielded
Low pressure sodium(1) Partially Partially
High pressure sodium Prohibited except Fully
fully shielded on
and collector streets
of 100 ft or more in
right of way width.
Metal halide Prohibited (7) Fully (2),(6)
Fluorescent Fully (3),(5) Fully (3),(5)
Quartz(4) Prohibited Fully
Incandescent greater Fully Fully
than 160 watt
Incandescent 160 watt None None
Any light source of None None
50 watt or less
Glass tubes filled None None
w/ neon, argon, krypton
Other sources As approved by the Building Official
Section 6. Filtration. Metal halide fixture lamps types shall be filtered.
"Filtered" means any outdoor light fixture which has a glass, acrylic, or
translucent enclosure of the light source (quartz glass does not meeting this
- This is the preferred light source to minimize undesirable light
emission into the night sky affecting astronomical observations. Fully
shielded fixtures are preferred but not required.
- Metal halide lighting, used primarily for display purposes, shall not be
used for security lighting after 11:00 pm or after closing hours if
before 11:00 pm. Metal halide lamps shall be installed only in
- Outdoor advertising signs of the type constructed of translucent
materials and wholly illuminated from within do not require shielding.
Dark backgrounds with light lettering or symbols are preferred, to
minimize detrimental effects. Unless conforming to the above dark
background preference, total lamp wattage per property shall be less
than 41 watts in Area A.
- For the purposes of this Code, quartz lamps shall not be considered an
incandescent light source.
- Warm white and natural lamps are preferred to minimize detrimental
- For filtering requirements for metal halide fixture lamp types see
- Fully shielded and installed metal halide fixtures shall be allowed for
applications where the designing engineer deems that color rendering is
Section 7. Outdoor Advertising Signs.
Section 8. Submission of Plans and Evidence of Compliance with Code-
- Sec 7.1. Top Mounted Fixtures Required. Lighting fixtures used to
illuminate an outdoor advertising sign shall be mounted on the top of
the sign structure. All such fixtures shall comply with the shielding
requirements of Section 5 and the time controls of minor Section 9.5.
(The County has made an exception for some of the largest signs, but
tight restrictions are given for lighting performance.)
- Sec. 7.2. (City only.) Prohibitions. See Section 9.5 for
- Sec. 7.2. (County only.) Compliance Limit. Existing outdoor
advertising structures shall be brought into conformance with this Code
within three years from the date of adoption of this provision.
- Sec. 7.3. (County only.) Prohibitions. Electrical illumination of
outdoor advertising off-site signs is prohibited in Area A. Electrical
illumination of outdoor advertising off-site signs between the hours of
11:00 p.m. and sunrise is prohibited in Area A.
Section 9. Prohibitions.
- Sec 8.1. Submission Contents. The applicant for any permit required
by any provision of the laws of this jurisdiction in connection with
proposed work involving outdoor lighting fixtures shall submit (as part
of the application for permit) evidence that the proposed work will
comply with this Code. The submission shall contain but shall not
necessarily be limited to the following, all or part of which may be
part or in addition to the information required elsewhere in the laws
of this jurisdiction upon application for the required permit:
- plans indicating the location on the premises, and the type of
illuminating devices, fixtures, lamps, supports, reflectors, and other
- description of the illuminating devices, fixtures, lamps, supports,
reflectors, and other devices and the description may include, but is
not limited to, catalog cuts by manufacturers and drawings (including
sections where required);
- photometric data, such as that furnished by manufacturers, or similar
showing the angle of cut off or light emissions.
- Sec 8.2. Additional Submission. The above required plans, descriptions
and data shall be sufficiently complete to enable the plans examiner to
readily determine whether compliance with the requirements of this Code
will be secured. If such plans, descriptions and data cannot enable
this ready determination, by reason of the nature or configuration of
the devices, fixtures, or lamps proposed, the applicant shall
additionally submit as evidence of compliance to enable such
determination such certified reports of tests as will do so provided
that these tests shall have been performed and certified by a
recognized testing laboratory.
- Sec. 8.3. Subdivision Plat Certification. If any subdivision proposes
to have installed street or other common or public area outdoor
lighting, the final plat shall contain a statement certifying that the
applicable provisions of the Tucson/Pima County Outdoor Lighting Code
will be adhered to.
- Sec 8.4. Lamp or Fixture Substitution. Should any outdoor light
fixture or the type of light source therein be changed after the permit
has been issued, a change request must be submitted to the building
official for his approval, together with adequate information to assure
compliance with this code, which must be received prior to
Section 10. Special Uses.
- Sec 9.1. Mercury Vapor Lamps Fixtures and Lamps. The installation,
sale, offer for sale, lease or purchase of any mercury vapor fixture or
lamp for use as outdoor lighting is prohibited.
- Sec 9.2. Certain Other Fixtures and Lamps. The installation, sale,
offering for sale, lease or purchase of any low pressure sodium, high
pressure sodium, metal halide, fluorescent, quartz or incandescent
outdoor lighting fixture or lamp the use of which is not allowed by
Table 5 is prohibited.
- Sec 9.3. Laser Source Light. Except as provided in minor Section 9.4,
the use of laser source light or any similar high intensity light for
outdoor advertising or entertainment, when projected above the
horizontal is prohibited.
- Sec 9.4. Searchlights. The operation of searchlights for advertising
purposes is prohibited in Area A and is prohibited in unincorporated
Pima County. In the territorial limits of the City of Tucson, the
operation of searchlights for advertising purposes is prohibited in
Area A and is prohibited in Area B between 10:00 p.m. and sunrise the
- Sec. 9.5. (City only.) Outdoor Advertising Off-Site Signs. Electrical
illumination of outdoor advertising off-site signs is prohibited in Area
A. Electrical illumination of outdoor advertising off-site signs
between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and sunrise is prohibited in Area B.
Section 11. Temporary Exemption
- Sec 10.1. Recreational Facilities. Any light source permitted by this
Code may be used for lighting of outdoor recreational facilities (public
or private), such as, but not limited to, football fields, soccer
fields, baseball fields, softball fields, tennis courts, auto race
tracks, horse race tracks or show areas, provided all of the following
conditions are met:
a. Lighting for parking lots and other areas surrounding the playing
field, court, or track shall comply with this Code for lighting in the
specific Area as defined in Section 4.4 and 4.5 of this Code.
b. All fixtures used for event lighting shall be fully shielded as
defined in Section 5 of this Code, or be designed or provided with
sharp cut-off capability, so as to minimize up-light, spill-light, and
c. All events shall be scheduled so as to complete all activity before
or as near to 10:30 p.m. as practical, but under no circumstances shall
any illumination of the playing field, court, or track be permitted
after 11:00 p.m. except to conclude a scheduled event that was in
progress before 11:00 p.m. and circumstances prevented concluding
before 11:00 p.m.
Exception: (City only.) Any portion of a recreational facility located
within 300 feet of a road or street designated as a scenic route shall
be lighted using only fixtures approved for use under this Code for the
Area, as defined in Section 4.4 and 4.5 of this Code, in which said
recreational facility is located.
Exception: (County only.) Recreational facilities located along roads
and streets designated as scenic routes shall be lighted using only
fixtures approved for the Area in which they are located.
- Sec. 10.2. Outdoor Display Lots. Any light source permitted by this
Code may be used for lighting of outdoor display lots such as, but not
limited to, automobile sales or rental, recreational vehicle sales, or
building material sales, provided all of the following conditions are
a. Lighting for parking lots and other areas surrounding the display
lot shall comply with this Code for lighting in the specific area as
defined in Section 4.4 and 4.5 of this Code.
b. All fixtures used for display lighting shall be fully shielded as
defined in Section 5 of this Code, or be designed or provided with sharp
cut-off capability, so as to minimize up-light, spill-light, or glare.
c. Display lot lighting shall be turned off within thirty minutes after
closing of the business. Under no circumstances shall the full
illumination of the lot be permitted after 11:00 p.m. Any lighting
used after 11:00 p.m. shall be used as security lighting.
Section 12. Other Exemptions.
- Sec 11.1. Request; Renewal; Information Required. Any person may submit a
written request, on a form prepared by the jurisdiction, to the building
official for a temporary exemption request. A temporary exemption shall
contain the following information:
- 1. specific exemption or exemptions requested;
- 2. type and use of outdoor light fixture involved;
- 3. duration of time requested exemption;
- 4. type of lamp and calculated lumens;
- 5. total wattage of lamp or lamps;
- 6. proposed location on premises of the outdoor light fixture(s);
- 7. previous temporary exemptions, if any, and addresses of premises
- 8. physical size of outdoor light fixture(s) and type of shielding
- 9. such other data and information as may be required by the building
- Sec. 11.2. Approval; Duration. The building official shall have five
business days from the date of submission of the request for temporary
exemption to act, in writing, on the request. If approved, the
exemption shall be valid for not more than thirty days from the date of
issuance of the approval. The approval shall be renewable at the
discretion of the building official upon a consideration of all the
circumstances. Each such renewed exemption shall be valid for not more
than thirty days.
- Sec 11.3. Disapproval; Appeal. If the request for temporary exemption
is disapproved, the person making the request will have the appeal
rights provided in Section 13.
Section 13. Appeals.
- Sec 12.1. Nonconformance
1. Mercury vapor lamps in use for outdoor lighting on the effective date of
the ordinance codified in this chapter shall not be so used.
2. (City.) Bottom-mounted outdoor advertising sign lighting shall not be
2. (County) Bottom-mounted outdoor advertising sign lighting shall not be
used, except as provided in Section 7.
3. All other outdoor light fixtures lawfully installed prior to and
operable on the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter are
exempt from all requirements of this Code except those regulated in Section 7
and in minor Sections 9.3 and 9.4 and in Section 10. There shall be no change
in use or lamp type, or any replacement or structural alteration made, without
conforming to all applicable requirements of this Code.
- Sec. 12.2. Fossil Fuel Light. All outdoor light fixtures producing
light directly by the combustion of natural gas or other fossil fuels
are exempt from all requirements of this Code.
- Sec 12.3. State and Federal Facilities. Outdoor light fixtures
installed on, and in connection with those facilities and land owned or
operated by the federal government or the state of Arizona, or any
department, division, agency or instrumentality thereof, are exempt
from all requirements of this Code. Voluntary compliance with the
intent of this Code at those facilities is encouraged.
Any person substantially aggrieved by any decision of the building
official made in administration of the Code has the right and responsibilities
of appeal to the Advisory/Appeals Board of this jurisdiction.
Section 14. Law Governing Conflicts.
Where any provision of federal, state, county, or city statutes, codes, or
laws conflicts with any provision of this code, the most restrictive shall
govern unless otherwise regulated by law.
Section 15. Violation.
It shall be a civil infraction for any person to violate any of the
provisions of this Code. Each and every day during which the violation
continues shall constitute a separate offense.
Section 16. Enforcement and Penalty.
- Sec 16.1. [City only] Pursuant to Section 28-12 of the Tucson Code:
1. When a violation of this Code is determined, the following penalty shall
2. Failure of a defendant to comply with any order contained in a judgment
under this Code shall result in an additional fine of not less than fifty
dollars nor more than one thousand dollars for each day the defendant fails to
- a. A fine of not less than fifty dollars nor more than one thousand
dollars per violation. The imposition of a fine under this Code shall not be
- b. Any other order deemed necessary in the discretion of the hearing
officer, including correction or abatement of the violation.
- Sec. 16.1. [County only] A violation of this Code is considered a civil
infraction. Civil infractions shall be enforced through the hearing
officer procedure provided by A.R.S. Section 11-808 and Sections
18.95.030, 18.95.040, and 18.101.60 of this Code [The numbering scheme
of the Sections is different in the County Code]. A fine shall be
imposed of not less than fifty dollars nor more than seven hundred
dollars for any individual or ten thousand dollars for any corporation,
association, or other legal entity for each offense. The imposition of
a fine under this Code shall not be suspended.
This material is copyrighted (©) by the IDA, or others as noted. It
may be reproduced for non-commercial usage provided that credit is given to
IDA. Provided here by NELPAG via permission by IDA, to aid in the
availability of this important information.
A key source for information on outdoor night lighting is the
International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).