Dark Sky NM

inviting you to enjoy and protect the New Mexico night sky

Act to Ordinance: NM Lighting Laws

Along with measuring light pollution, choosing good lighting fixtures, and applying best practices in the building industry, enacting sensible lighting legislation is a useful strategy for controlling and reducing light pollution in the New Mexico landscape.

Protections exist at the state level, as well as in a number of New Mexico counties and municipalities.



New Mexico Night Sky Protection Act (NSPA)
In 1999, the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance (NMHPA) declared the New Mexico night sky one of our state's most endangered cultural resources. That same year, Governor Gary Johnson signed the NSPA into law, and it went into effect on January 1, 2000. Read the full text here.

Compliance with the NSPA is required by the New Mexico Electrical Code (NMEC). Enforcement of the NSPA is the responsibility of each county and municipality in New Mexico. Keep in mind that outdoor lighting fixtures installed before 2000 are grandfathered in and are exempt from the NSPA, until such time as they become inoperable and are replaced.

For State-owned buildings, enforcement of the NSPA is the responsibility of the Construction Industries and Manufactured Housing Division (CID) of the State of New Mexico's Regulation and Licensing Department. If you have concerns or questions about NSPA enforcement for State-owned buildings, contact the Director of CID, Mr. Pat McMurray, at 505-476-4700, or the Electrical Bureau Chief, Mr. Kelly Hunt, at 505-476-4679.


Local Ordinances
Aside from the NSPA, which applies statewide, do you know what outdoor lighting codes or zoning ordinances are in place where you live? To find out, look for lighting provisions in the documents provided below.

If you know of an outdoor lighting ordinance or code provision not shown below, you can contact us and provide the specific document or web link, and we will update this list.


     ♦ Ordinances by County

Bernalillo County Code, Light Pollution
Ordinances for North Albuquerque Acres and Sandia Heights, and for East Mountain Area

Doña Ana County Zoning Ordinance
See Section 350-405 (Public Lighting) and Section 350-506 (Environmental Performance Standards)

Sandoval County Zoning Ordinance
See provisions for Outdoor Light Fixtures in individual Zone Districts

Santa Fe County Sustainable Land Development Code    Warning: 23 MB download
See Section 7.8 (Lighting)

Valencia County Ordinances
See Title IX, Chapter 92, Public Nuisances Prohibited, Lighting Nuisance


     ♦ Ordinances by Municipality

Alamogordo Code of Ordinances, Outdoor Lighting

Albuquerque Code of Ordinances
See Chapter 14, Article 16 (Zoning Code): Sections 14-16-3-5 (General Sign Regulations), 14-16-3-9 (Area Lighting Regulations), and 14-16-3-18 (General Building and Site Design Regulations for Non-Residential Uses)

Carlsbad Code of Ordinances, Exterior Lighting

Cloudcroft Village Code
See Title 8, Chapter 3 (Outdoor Lighting)

Clovis Code of Ordinances, Exterior Lighting Standards

Española City Ordinances, Outdoor Lighting

Hobbs Buffering, Screening and Lighting Standards Resolution

Las Cruces Land Development Code, Outdoor Lighting

Las Vegas Municipal Ordinances, Outdoor Lighting

Los Ranchos de Albuquerque Village Codified Ordinances
See Chapter 9, Section 20 (Dark Skies)

Rio Rancho Municipal Code
See Title XV, Chapter 159 (Outdoor Lighting Ordinance)

Santa Fe City Code
See separate Land Development folder, Article 14-8.9 (Outdoor Lighting)

Socorro Code of Ordinances, Outdoor Lighting

Taos Town Code
See Title 15, Chapter 15.28 (Outdoor Lighting)

Truth or Consequences Code of Ordinances
See Section 11-13-2.9, Item H (Lighting Provisions)


Model Lighting Ordinance
If lighting regulations exist in your town, you can typically find them in the "Municipal Code" or "Code of Ordinances." If your community does not have an outdoor lighting ordinance in place, you may wish to advocate for one with your local government.

To assist you in this effort, the IDA and the IESNA have co-developed and made available a Model Lighting Ordinance with a User's Guide.


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