Lighting Is Essential For Security

By Yann Phung

March 12, 2022

I’d like to express our family’s strong opposition to the newly proposed lighting regulations by the RSF Association.


The Covenant of Rancho Santa Fe is known to be one of the most expensive places to live not only in California but all of America. However, unlike many surrounding communities, we are not a gated community with a perimeter or guarded gate. Burglaries and home invasions have always been an issue in high end neighborhoods like The Ranch, however there has been a huge uptick in home invasions by thieves who are getting more and more brazen. According to the Patrol, about 20 burglaries have been reported in the last year. Lately, there appears to be an organized crew who operate from 5-8pm, as soon as it becomes dark.

Safety for you and your family trumps everything. One of the few protections afforded to us is to be able to turn on lights inside and outside of the house to serve as a potential deterrent to criminals. Without adequate lighting, homeowners and our camera systems alike cannot view intruders. With this newly proposed regulation, we will no longer have that protection. Once night falls, it will be MUCH darker than it already is with minimal lighting. At 11 PM, it will be pitch black dark everywhere you look. With this newly proposed regulation, our neighborhood will be a prime destination for all crooks to come and have a field day with the ability to move freely at night completely undetected by residents or camera systems.

Headlines like this are getting common.

As a husband and father of two girls, I am already deeply concerned about the possibility of a home invasion especially if I am not home or out of town. The ability to turn on lights surrounding the house not only serves as a potential deterrent, it gives us a sense of comfort to my family to be able to see around the house.

Did whoever write this regulation think about the potential for more car accidents? We have quite a few elderly and young drivers in the neighborhood. My girls will be driving in the next few years as will many other kids in the neighborhood. Our neighborhood does not have street lights and with this new regulation, drivers will now be driving on winding roads with no shoulders in pitch black darkness. How is this a good idea? How is this safer?


Why is this draconian light regulation being proposed? Where is the data that shows this is what our neighborhood wants or needs? Or is this the brainchild of a select few? I’ve personally spoken with many homeowners and not one wants this new regulation. In a survey performed by the RSF Post, 168 people were surveyed. 64% (107 votes) said the status quo is fine. Another close to 20% (33 votes), said the occasional house has excessive landscape and/or uplights/security lighting. That is nearly 85% (140 votes) of all residents surveyed that are fine with the current lighting regulation or minimal changes to deal with the houses with excessive lighting.

RSF Post poll results from February 2021

When we have guests come over in the evening we often get comments on how dark it is in our neighborhood. The use of car high beams is necessary when navigating some of our roads. When you look at the surrounding neighborhoods such as The Bridges, Fairbanks and Santaluz, all have quite a bit of landscape and exterior lighting. When you drive around the Ranch, it is very dark, however you will see occasional landscape lighting and generally speaking, it is done tastefully and subtly but nowhere near the levels of those other neighborhoods. My point is, it is already quite dark in the Ranch. Why make it darker? What about homeowners who believe that landscape lighting enhances their property’s aesthetics?

Too Stringent

Whoever wrote this proposed regulation must really, really not like light. Some of the language is tough to comprehend.

Zero Light Trespass? The Association wants to eliminate exterior lighting to trespass from one neighbor to the next which would be verified by a photometer. What? Is this the type of neighborhood we want where neighbors are using photometers on their neighbors’ houses?

No Patio lighting? This means if you have an exterior lighting fixture attached to your house and it is not covered by a patio cover, it is now prohibited (14.040501). Imagine entertaining your friends at your house in your backyard but you have to sit in the dark since your patio lights aren’t covered. Sorry everyone, we have to use candles because our association has this thing called Dark Skies…

No Christmas lights beyond December 26th? Sorry, the regulation believes Christmas is over at 12:01 AM on December 26th (14.0411).

Interior lighting is problematic? While this regulation is titled “Exterior Lighting Regulation”, it still includes language that says the Association can take “Corrective action” if it is deemed that your interior lighting is too excessive (14.0415). Many homes in the Ranch have large windows, large slider doors near entertaining areas. So now, you have to be careful how much light you use on the inside of your own home. Yes, you read that correctly.

Overregulation of even security lighting? According to the new regulation, the Association has allowed us to have security and safety lighting with motion sensors BUT, the light from the motion sensors can’t just turn on. Instead, 14.0404.05 reads “Light systems shall be controlled by a lighting transformer with a controller unit that can turn lights off and on by diming and transitions. The device shall also use the 5 second transition to turn off the light. The security light sources shall be shielded from public roads, public spaces, and neighboring properties or as determined by the Art Jury.” So now, your security light has to go from dark to maximum light in a minimum of 5 seconds but cannot be seen by anyone on the street or by your neighbors. You can’t make this up.

Are We Truly A Neighborhood?

When you see regulations written like this, what does this say about the kind of neighborhood we all want to live in, with this many rules? Maybe that’s just it. Maybe we aren’t a neighborhood and we live in an area with a collection of big homes where everyone is fighting about who is breaking what rule, using photometers to measure how much light we are emitting and suing each other because everyone has so much money and is so powerful. I fully understand you need regulation and rules as an association to eliminate grey areas and judgement calls but isn’t this a bit much? At what point is the Association overstepping and getting too involved in our personal lives and property?

No one wants a neighbor to light up their entire property with excessive lighting. However, the difference with other associations and this newly proposed regulation by our association is that they are rather reasonable and allow for subtle and tasteful lighting. Regardless, when a proposed rule and regulation infringes on you and your family’s safety, we cannot be silent and allow this to happen. At a minimum, the association should put this regulation to a community vote. If you disagree with this newly proposed regulation, please let your voice be heard and email the association at

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