Glendale Opposition to Cell Towers: Five Years Later, An International Research Study! 1


20090107GOACTaObjecting to a cell site about to be installed in front of a home, five years ago today more than 100 people petitioned Glendale City Council for better zoning protection (January 7, 2009 – jump to Agenda Item 6d). In April 2010, after a cell site moratorium, various official hearings and two sets of public meetings, city council enacted a new wireless ordinance that provided greater notices and protections for residential areas of Glendale.

Working with Glendale Organized Against Cell Towers from its beginnings during the holiday break of 2008 to approval of the Glendale ordinance in April 2010, I developed contacts with people fighting similar battles across the region and around the world. I spent hours archiving and linking to source materials for our fight, which can be found on the Wireless Technology Policy Sunroom Desk Page. I also documented the process on Sunroom Desk, with blog posts under Utility Technologies. I’m still contacted by people who want help fighting a cell site installation (the count was three this past December: phone call from someone in the city of Walnut, blog comment from West L.A., and an email from Virginia!).

In October 2013, I received an email from from Bert deGraaff, a Dutch researcher studying how citizens, policy and industry deal with cell site controversies in his own country and in the United States. In the U.S., he focusing on Glendale and Burbank, because “community involvement in the construction of cell towers appears to be one the most comprehensive in the world.”

In about half of the 451 Dutch municipalities, some form of protest against cell towers has occurred from the 1990s onwards, deGraaff reports. As in the U.S., health impacts are invalid as an argument against cell tower construction, if the facility meets exposure standards (set by the FCC in the U.S.; by the ICNIRP in the Europe and the Netherlands). The issues remaining include aesthetics and real estate values.

Here in Southern California, deGraaff is interviewing people who have been involved in cell tower installation protests. He’s spoken with me, with the leader of Burbank’s No Cell Tower in Our Neighborhood, and with city staff who worked on wireless ordinances.

One thought on “Glendale Opposition to Cell Towers: Five Years Later, An International Research Study!

  • Miriam Nakamura

    My first local cell tower fight started in December 2006. T-Mobile proposed a 5 foot antenna on a street light on the public right of way. I managed to rally the neighborhood and won the City Council hearing but the City ended up getting sued by T-Mobile. The City of Pasadena ended up settling out of court. Since then I have been involved in over a dozen cell tower fights throughout Los Angeles County. My more recent cell tower fight involves two large cell tower monopoles located on two San Marino Unified School District (SMUSD) Campuses. There is an 80 foot cell tower that is within the fall zone of both an elementary school and a middle school. The other cell tower is 65 feet tall and is located on the high school. Both were placed without any building permits or the Division of State Architects (DSA) Certification which is required for all public schools in California. There are more startling details like the fact that the 65′ high school cell tower was built on the Raymond Fault Line and the architect of the cell tower falsified DSA documents and claimed that the this cell tower was not in an earthquake zone. With rampant incompetence by SMUSD and the Telecom companies always trying to cheat the system the schools always become endangered by the physical structures (and I’m not talking about RF) because they are built without any inspections or tests. We have questions about how these cell towers weathered the 2011 windstorms that exceeded these structures wind ratings, and how safe are they in earthquakes or if there is a fire. No consideration was made to change the emergency evacuation plans so the students will be within the cell tower fall zone during an evacuation. I checked the DSA’s database for about 6 local school districts and most of the public schools that do have cell towers or antennas do not have DSA Certification for these structures. This was confirmed after talking with the head of the DSA in Los Angeles. I have tried to contact Senator Liu numerous times but haven’t gotten any help. We have tried to contact the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)and they say it is not their jurisdiction even when I quote government codes that state the CPUC has the authority if a Telecom does not comply with local government laws. Even though SMUSD is the #1 ranked school district in California for 11 years in a row they did the parents and students a disservice by compromising the students safety by allowing cell towers on their campuses and allowing a corrupt industry to operate near our children. In 7 years San Marino High School has had 3 different owners of this cell tower and none of the owners have bothered to get DSA Certifcation. Shouldn’t there be a building permit check like they have when you sell a home? Now the City is going to have the new owner obtain a retroactive CUP. The lawlessness of the telecoms in our public schools is an untenable position especially since all the laws even after the Telecoms have acted illegally protect the Telecoms interests. Why aren’t more parents upset by these potentially dangerous structures on their school campuses. I will continue to try to get my government representatives attention but at this time they are not very interested in this issue. Oh by the way…Senator Liu is married to the head of the CPUC.

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