Dear PoPville – Partially Blacking Out Street Lamps?

by Prince Of Petworth April 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm 11 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user AWard Tour

Dear PoPville,

My apartment is on the third floor facing an alley. With all the beautiful weather we’ve had lately, I love sleeping with the windows open. But there is a streetlight directly on the same level as my window, and when I have the shades up it shines right in and makes my bedroom as bright as day. I know it’s important for safety, but I’ve seen other streetlights around the city that have the sides blacked out so they only shine down towards the ground. I’m wondering if any of your readers have had any luck requesting that the city do that to pesky lights near them, and if so, how?

  • I always thought people blacked them out themselves.

    • walker

      Someone on the block next to mind has spraypainted the side facing their bedroom black. Great for them, terrible for public safety, as it leaves the sidewalk totally dark. Thanks.

      They’re called blackout shades/curtains. Get some.

  • cathy


  • Our neighbor in Mt. P colored the one in front of his house because it shone into his bedroom, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal—defacing public property or some such.

    This reminds me of a cool article a few years ago in the New Yorker about efforts to better direct night lighting to reduce light pollution and this group that is spearheading it: www dot darkskysociety dot org

  • Anonymous

    Indeed, I know the DC streetlight guy, DDOT participates in our regional street light working group. He says, just get it on 311 (or online), make sure they have the pole number, and they’d be happy to take care of it. I just wish they’d let residents “adopt a pole” so we can convert the lights to LED and/or add timed dimmers. Arlington County actually has 911 buttons on their street lights poles!

  • Anonymous

    A lot of the lights in Bloomingdale and Shaw have remotes, I can see the little red puck light on top and the antenna blinking from time to time. They can turn them on and off remotely as needed depending on how much light is in the area at the time. First time I saw it I thought somebody had a camera on top of the light pole watching me lol.

  • K

    Have you thought of wearing an eye mask to bed in the meantime? I have the same issue you do and I wear an eye mask and am a happy little clam!

  • StanislausBabalistic

    I’ve got a similar problem, but unfortunately it’s not a streetlight. Rather it’s the light on the side of those terrible little housing developments on Columbia between 13th and 14th. Directly in the window at night. Who would I talk to?

    • Not sure if the above was submitted in jest, but in case it wasn’t:

      I think the idea with that complex (which I believe is public housing) is that it needs all the light it can gets. For a long time there was a large crane-type light permanently parked on Columbia between 13th and 14th to illuminate some of the courtyard areas, usually with a police car parked in front of it. (Not sure if that’s still the case.)

      I don’t think the lighting situation for that complex is going to change, so I’d recommend trying blackout shades/curtains.

  • jaynuze

    I have this really pesky red light outside my window … damn you Kenny Rogers

  • DDOT guy

    Call 311. It’s possible DDOT can help. Not all lights can be shielded, but some can. Couldn’t hurt to try.


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