By a unanimous 10-0 vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors overturned a Planning Commission approval of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Clearwire 5 point-to-point microwave backhaul antennas proposed for a telecommunications tower atop Bernal Hill.
The tower, approved by a single Conditional Use Permit in 1960 and currently owned by American Tower Company (ATC), is host to over 60 antennas that have been installed over the past 50 years without the required permits. ATC’s failure to live up to the conditions imposed by a 2009 CUP that allowed T-Mobile antennas on the tower played a major role in the Board’s decision to deny Clearwire a permit at this location.
Before its vote on the CUP appeal, the Board rejected residents’ request for environmental review of Clearwire’s project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
According to local advocate Doug Loranger, “While there was a strong legal case for CEQA review, the resulting delays in Clearwire’s build-out of its network across San Francisco would have cost the company millions of dollars and it therefore brought in some powerful local lobbyists to stave off a vote in favor of CEQA. Nevertheless, local Bernal Heights residents did an outstanding job of bringing ATC’s various permit, code and tax violations to the attention of the City and organizing their neighbors to achieve yesterday’s result.”
This Friday, November 19, Oakland, California residents plan a demonstration and march against Verizon antennas scheduled to be installed directly across the street from an elementary school. They raised $1,000 to appeal the installation, and lost, but are not giving up. The San Francisco Chronicle reports today:
The parents have two options left. On Friday, they will appeal to Verizon’s “corporate conscience” with a march from the schools to the wireless provider’s local retail store, said Jen Schradie, whose two children attend the charter school.
They also will seek to arm themselves with science, conducting their own health study – a costly, time-consuming endeavor, but one that could provide the proof they say they need to stop such placements in the future.
“It’s going to be a long-term process, but we’re definitely going to be involved in conducting the study,” said Schradie, a sociology doctoral student at UC Berkeley. “We’re not willing to sit back and cross our fingers.”