Making Room for Billboards: “A giant tree in Miami waterfront park was chopped down by the city — without city approval”

Making Room for Billboards: “A giant tree in Miami waterfront park was chopped down by the city — without city approval”

Photo: Jose A. Iglesias,

“A 35-foot tall ficus tree thought to be among the oldest in Maurice A. Ferré Park was chopped down by the city of Miami without any advance notice or a removal permit. What will take the beloved tree’s place? The city claims an oak tree will go there. But downtown residents who use the park daily dread the planting of an invasive species — a 300-square-foot electronic billboard blinging ads…

Photo: TJ Sabo, Courtesy of TJ Sabo

Billboards are coming to the park Billboards will indeed be the newest objects in the park, Carollo acknowledged last Friday — one on the north end and one on the south end, both facing Biscayne Boulevard, on the east side of the sidewalk. While it’s unclear if one of the LED signs will be placed on the exact spot where the tree stood, it will be close by, and unobstructed by the tree’s 40-foot-wide canopy as some 100,000 motorists pass by each day…

Although a proposal to put 45 digital billboards in Miami’s core was recently defeated by commissioners because of a public backlash, the placement of LED billboards in Ferré Park, Bayfront Park, Virginia Key Beach Park and at Miami Off-Street Parking facilities was approved Feb. 9 by a 3-1 vote, with Manolo Reyes opposed — warning, ‘we don’t want to look like Vegas.’

The two in Ferré Park — on monument bases and up to 400 square feet in size — will generate $800,000 in annual revenue from outdoor advertising companies…”

— Linda Robertson, Miami Herald

Read entire article

A Multimedia Presentation  “LED lights are meant to save energy. They’re creating glaring problems”

A Multimedia Presentation “LED lights are meant to save energy. They’re creating glaring problems”

Photo: National Park Service composite of 47 images

About this multimedia story:

“The National Park Service captured the images showing the night sky and light pollution in Chelan County. To create a full picture of the night sky, NPS stitched together 47 different photographs, a process that can leave seams between individual image, some of which are visible in the images in the story… Evening sounds are from the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division at the National Park Service. Solutions for reducing light pollution are from the National Park Service. LED lights are meant to save energy. They’re creating glaring problems.”

Here’s just a tiny bit of an article that can only be experienced…rather than read.

“As societies developed, stars became less visible on the horizon. In one county in Washington state, the clarity of the night sky was marred by lights radiating upward and obscuring the view. This light pollution would only grow worse…

An unexpected increase in pollution came after Chelan County shifted to LED streetlights, which shine brightly while using less energy than traditional bulbs. One year after the change began, the additional glare masked about half of the previously visible stars. What happened there is not unique.

In recent years, cities, towns and small communities across the world have taken part in a radical revolution — of our lightbulbs. Traditional orange-tinged high-pressure sodium bulbs are being swapped for more energy-efficient, whiter and brighter LED (light-emitting diode) lights. But the rise of LEDs is also illuminating new problems for our night sky, as well as our health.

Over the past decade, scientists found, the night sky has become nearly 10 percent brighter each year because of artificial lights, mainly LEDs emitting too much glare. Streetlights are part of the problem, as are sources such as illuminated billboards and stadium lights…

‘People need to understand LED lights are being installed everywhere, not just streetlights, but they’re blasting up in all directions,’ said Jim White, senior energy efficiency engineer with the Chelan County Public Utility District who helped with the county’s LED transition…

Researchers with the National Park Service found the LED lights washed out more of the stars, particularly near the horizon.

‘You can tell the lighting gets bigger, so it extends higher into the sky … the entire sky got brighter,’ said Li-Wei Hung, an astronomer with the National Park Service who published a study on the LED transition in Chelan County. ‘Just a few years ago, this [was] really new knowledge for us. Does the change to LEDs really decrease the light pollution or increase it? We [didn’t] exactly know.’

Camera data showed the sky over local Burch Mountain was 60 percent brighter after the county completed the switch in 2019 compared with 2018.

The new artificial light stood at 3.69 times the natural light level after the transition; before the transition, artificial lights generated 2.30 times the natural light. White said the increased pollution was ‘a total surprise’ because the Public Utility District had tried to direct lights toward the ground, but the light still scattered.

Detailed nightglow data from individual cities is hard to come by, making the transition in Chelan County an important case study in understanding both the good and bad effects of LED lights. Yet observations and anecdotes indicate Chelan County is not alone. From 2011 to 2022, reports from citizen scientists indicated the average night sky got brighter by 9.6 percent each year, which researchers attribute to LED light replacements. Some cities, such as D.C., paused a transition to LEDs after residents complained about the bright lights disrupting their sleep…”

— Kasha Patel, Kati Perry, Daniel Wolfe and Emily Sabens, Washington Post

Experience this entire article

“Tampa’s tree canopy at 26-year low, report finds”

“Tampa’s tree canopy at 26-year low, report finds”

Photo: 2016 Tampa City of Tampa Tree Canopy and Urban Forest Analysis

“Carley Morgan and her husband picked their South Tampa home, in part, because of the trees on the property.

‘They make a difference on our energy cost and it makes the landscaping look so much nicer to have the big trees,” Morgan said, ‘so it was a big factor…’

‘As houses are being knocked down in our area,’ she said, ‘it feels like the very first thing that happens is all of the trees are taken off the lot before they build a new one.’

A new five-year analysis found the city’s tree canopy is the smallest it’s been in 26 years. Development and older trees dying are two reasons why.

Between 2016 and 2021, South Tampa’s tree coverage had the biggest decrease of six percent…

‘There are a million benefits to trees, but as Floridians we really need to consider the right tree in the right place,’ City Councilwoman Lynn Hurtak said. ‘Planting more shade trees instead of palm trees.’

In addition to helping residents cool off during hot summer months, trees can reduce air pollutants and help absorb water during storms.

‘Trees suck up a lot of water and for us that’s critical, especially because a lot of our city is in the coastal high hazard area,’ Hurtak said.

Morgan said they planted a new tree on their front lawn two and half years ago after losing one of their larger oak trees.

‘You know those trees were planted when the houses were put in, but now they’re getting older so they’re dying, and if we don’t replace them, we’re in really bad shape,’ Morgan said. “So we were so sad when we lost that tree.'”

— Justin Schecker, Channel 8 News WFLA

Read entire article

Read 2016 analysis here

“This Florida city gets the state’s first ‘dark sky’ certification”

“This Florida city gets the state’s first ‘dark sky’ certification”

Photo: Steven Miller Photography in Tampa Bay Times

“Groveland’s work over the last three years to replace light fixtures will allow the night sky to shine clearer and brighter than it has in decades.

About 30 miles west of Orlando sits Groveland, a rural town of about 23,000 people that is seeing shipping giants like Amazon and Kroger bring jobs inside its city limits.

While the community welcomed the job growth, the lights on the warehouse rooftops were turning Groveland’s night sky into a hazy orange that made seeing stars at night challenging.

When residents and students pushed for a local ordinance protecting views of the night sky from harsh city lights in 2017, local officials were on board.

Six years later, Groveland has been recognized as the first Florida city to meet the criteria set by the international organization DarkSky to reduce the artificial brightness that drowns out the night sky.

Andrew Landis, Groveland conservation and special planning manager, spearheaded efforts to reduce light pollution in his fast-growing home city…

Steven Miller of Orlando is the southeast U.S. regional delegate for DarkSky, which is dedicated to reducing light pollution across the world. In 2020, the city of Groveland asked Miller what it would take to become the 41st city to meet DarkSky’s accreditation requirements.

Groveland’s recognition came after three years of public outreach and policy work…

About 12 volunteers now work as ‘citizen scientists’ in Groveland. The city supplies them with $150 light pollution testing devices, which resemble garage door remotes. From there, they are tasked with driving around the 54-square-mile city and pointing the machines at the clear night sky. Groveland is mostly rural and it takes about 30 minutes to get from one end to the other, Landis said…

Groveland is currently retrofitting old streetlamps with dark-sky-friendly lights, which are shielded downward with a low color temperature. City staff hope to replace every light fixture by 2027. But the night sky city ordinance applies immediately to new buildings, and explaining this to developers is sometimes tricky, Landis said.

‘Most people are receptive to it, but if they’re not, they learned quickly that we’re pretty serious,’ he said…

Groveland still has a long way to go before it reaps the rewards of the new city ordinance, Miller said. Installing new lights around the city and helping local businesses follow suit will take time and even more community outreach.

Some communities already see Groveland as a shining example of responsible city lighting.

Miller said the city of Okeechobee has reached out to him about adopting a city plan like Groveland’s ordinance.

‘I really believe that, yes, it will take off,’ Miller said. ‘I do think it’s going to take a little bit of time…'”

— Jack Prator, Tampa Bay Times

Read entire article


“Local resident’s controversy on floating structure in St. Johns County waters”

“Local resident’s controversy on floating structure in St. Johns County waters”

Photo: CBS 47 Action News Jax

“…St. John’s County Commissioners discussed an ordinance that would prohibit floating structures.

Jeffrey Thomas is the owner of Hurricane Watersports on the Matanzas inlet.

Some of the water rentals he provides to visitors are paddle boards, kayaks, water trampolines and platforms.

A county commissioner said people in the area don’t like the look of this.

‘Several residents referred to it as a real eye-sore in what is probably one of the most beautiful inlets in the state of Florida,’ said St. John’s County Commissioner, Henry Dean.

According to Florida law, a floating structure can be defined as a floating entity that is not primarily used as a means of transportation on the water but serves purposes or provides services.

Commissioner Dean said several residents have complained about parties taking place on the structure in the Matanzas Inlet.

‘I think we have an obligation to keep it relatively pristine and relatively quiet so people can enjoy the sunset, enjoy swimming and enjoy the recreational activities without these wild parties going on,’ said Commissioner Dean.

Thomas told Action News Jax he had one live music festival but does not sell alcohol, and he uses this mainly for his rental business. He said it’s common in other places…

If the ordinance is passed, St. Johns County would be able to ban anything that’s considered a floating structure.

There will be a second reading for the ordinance in early August.”

— Alexus Cleavenger, CBS 47 Action News Jax

Read entire article

“Bald cypress planting caps Key Biscayne’s recognition as Tree City USA”

“Bald cypress planting caps Key Biscayne’s recognition as Tree City USA”

Photo: Juan Castro Olivera

“Key Biscayne residents will have it made in the shade soon, with 59 trees to be planted from a Miami-Dade County Neat Streets grant, and a 60th tree which was recently planted at Lake Park with the help of young students from the K-8 School.

That 10-foot bald cypress will be symbolic of the Village’s latest award, being named Tree City USA for 2022 by the National Arbor Foundation for its, well, tree-mendous efforts on beautification, adding oxygen into the atmosphere and extending the precious canopy to keep the environment cooler.

Olga Garcia, Zoning Plans Reviewer and Planner with the Village, was presented with the official certificate from the National Arbor Day Foundation during the last Village Council meeting by Mayor Joe Rasco for her efforts in getting Key Biscayne designated as a Tree City USA community. village council meeting

‘It’s a very nice thing to get; Olga handled most of the application,’ said Jeremy Calleros Gauger, director of the Building, Zoning and Planning department. ‘I think the symbolic portion of it is how much tree canopy Key Biscayne had added over 30 years, even 10 years.’

He said the island’s 26% coverage is more than most other Miami-Dade municipalities, but ‘there’s still room for improvement.’

Key Biscayne becomes the 165th Tree City USA in Florida and one of 3,653 recognized cities across the country, ‘a relatively small number when you think how many cities there are,’ Calleros Gauger said.”

— Hillard Grossman, Islander News

Read entire article