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Single-Family in ESL Exterior and Site Lighting Design Guidelines

Exterior lighting includes any lighting that is mounted outside of livable building areas such as in landscaping, parking areas, along walkways and paths, on the outside of building walls, under eaves and patio covers, under open shed covers and within 3 feet of the openings in buildings where the opening is not regularly closed (such as breezeways and entry courts.

To achieve low scale requirements exterior lighting can either be:

  1. low in physical height, i.e. mounted or placed generally below eye level (6 feet), or
  2. Low in lighting intensity that includes the total of all lamps supported by a fixture. i.e. the maximum capacity of a fixture utilizing one or multiple lamp(s) that are:

a. an incandescent lamp source(s) not exceeding a total of 60-watts and 825 initial lumens,
b. compact florescent lamp source(s) not exceeding a total of 13 watts and 825 initial lumens,
c. a halogen lamp source(s) not exceeding a total of 20 watts and 6500 initial candelas,
d. a LED lamp source(s) not exceeding a total of five (5) watts, or
e. a High Intensity Discharge lamp source(s) not exceeding a total of 825 initial lumens.


To insure minimum light pollution, reduce glare and minimize light trespass onto neighboring properties – Exterior lighting is to be directed downward, recessed or shielded so that:

  1. the opening for the light is directed down, not sideways;
  2. the lighting source is hidden from view from off the property by the fixture design or by building structures such as fascia on an eave, walls, pillars, etc.
  3. the lighting fixture includes a device or feature such as vanes, louvers, fins, etc. that directs the light downward; and
  4. the lighting fixture includes frosted lenses that are semi-opaque and eliminate the view of the lamp source.

To minimize light trespass

  • Exterior lighting must shield the light bulb so it cannot be seen from residential development (properties zoned R or used as residential) or from public viewpoints.
  • Translucent and colored glass are not viable options unless the opacity fully blurs or hides the shape and nature of the light source.
  • Public viewpoints include public or private streets, public schools or parks, and any open space accessible to the public.

Generally Acceptable:

Generally NOT Acceptable:

  • Soffit-mounted lighting;
  • Bollard lighting with opaque caps, that contain louvers, and have a solid opaque housing around the lamp source;


  • Directional fixtures that are located and/or shielded so that the light source is not visible from off the property (e.g. the fixture may utilize external visor, honeycomb louver, etc. to limit and screen the light source)
  • Light sconces that direct downward only or are placed under an eave; and
  • In-ground landscape lighting
  • Open bulb fixtures;
  • Fixtures with clear or nearly clear glass or plastic faces;
  • Fixtures with lenses that scatter lights; and
  • Flood lights, excluding low wattage landscape lighting

The following exceptions apply:

  1. Any exterior lighting that is visible only from properties zoned and used for commercial, office, industrial or utility purposes;
  2. Sport courts, and sports fields. Single Family residential sport courts and sports fields shall require a staff approval. All other sport courts and sports fields shall be reviewed on an individual basis by the Development Review Board;
  3. Security lighting that is activated by motion sensors; is on for no more than 15 minutes; and is located where it does not come on frequently due to regular outdoor traffic or activity; and

  4. Lighting located within a fully enclosed courtyard and placed below the height of the surrounding building or walls.

Planning and Development Services

Phone: 480-312-7800
Fax: 480-312-7088

7447 E. Indian School Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251