Hong Kong residents up in arms over light pollution

Sun Mar 6, 2011 8:10pm EST
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By Stefanie McIntyre

HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - Chiu Mung-ngor and her husband paid $3.3 million for their Hong Kong flat in a luxury apartment block in 2009, lured into buying it partly by its view of the harbour.

But their enjoyment was short-lived. The completion last October of a three-storey high LED advertising billboard on the roof of a nearby shopping mall blocked the harbour view, while the billboard lights began shining into the living room and bedrooms until midnight.

Chiu and other residents complained to the mall, the developer, the apartment block's management firm, the government, politicians and activists. Nothing changed.

Now, ten parties owning a dozen properties in the building in the Tsim Sha Tsui area may launch Hong Kong's first legal action about light pollution, claiming the billboard has ruined the value of their properties as well as their quality of life.

"The beginning of October, one couple from Australia -- they loved the apartment, they come back to visit four times, decided to rent it," Chiu said, telling how three prospective tenants have been put off by the flashing billboard 250 metres away.

"Then all of a sudden, the sign comes on. So they still tried to accomodate so they asked around to see how late the sign would be turned off. Finally they decided they could not handle it."

Chiu only managed to find a short-term tenant after reducing the rent for the 1,200-sq ft flat to US$8,300 to $6,300 a month.

The action started by the apartment residents has set off fresh complaints from nearby residents about overly bright buildings.   Continued...

<p>A night view of the Victoria Harbour from Hong Kong's Causeway Bay, on a rainy evening, December 15, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Chong</p>