AT&T Promises More Cell Sites in Los Angeles; Residents Keep Urging City to Adopt Strict Rules 3

Citizens who have spent more than two years asking the city of Los Angeles to assert zoning control over wireless installations are still waiting for the City Attorney’s report on possible ordinance options, and are now seeing full-page ads in the LA Times in which AT&T is promising more than 40 new cell sites.

At the city attorney’s request, advocates for a new Los Angeles wireless ordinance summarized key provisions of other California cities’ rules (including Glendale’s). Focusing on public right-of-way (PROW) installations, they completed two summaries: Discretionary PROW Permits and Administrative PROW Permits.

While they worked on the first two documents, the CPUC adopted General Rule 170. According to a third summary the citizens compiled on CPUC and FCC Recent Developments, it “appears to assert that the CPUC has sole authority to issue discretionary permits and conduct CEQA reviews for telecommunications construction projects in the PROW.”

The League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties have filed petitions for rehearing and a motion for a stay. Even some cell carriers have filed a petition for rehearing. The League argues that the decision exceeds the CPUC’s authority, violates local governments’ rights, conflicts with CEQA requirements, and is ambiguous and subject to misinterpretation.

Several weeks earlier, an LA homeowner asked for information on a surprise Pacific Palisades cell site right next to her home. Days went by without any information obtained; no clear chain of authority or responsibility could be identified. A report on these efforts was sent to senior city staff with the comment: “It is truly astounding that citizens are forced to go to these lengths just to get information about one of these installations. If we had a proper regulation scheme then obviously the City would know how to get in touch with the appropriate persons.”

To date, 47 Los Angeles neighborhood councils, associations and/or federations (representing 82 organizations city-wide) have expressed concerns or called for reform of the city’s regulation of wireless facilities (including the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils and the Hillside Federation) – not to ban all cell towers, but to provide for proper planning, community input in siting decisions and aesthetic protection for residents.

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