Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jan. 10 2012 Study Session on New AT&T Antennas at 1035 San Pablo Ave.


AT&T is back with another proposal for 21(!) new cell antennas atop 1035 San Pablo Ave. (across from UC Village and directly behind neighbors on Kains Ave.)

The Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission will hold a study session on the proposed new antennas this Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 PM at City Hall, 1000 San Pablo Ave.
IF YOU OPPOSE OR ARE CONCERNED ABOUT more antennas at this location, which already has an installation of Sprint/Nextel antennas, IT IS IMPORTANT TO ATTEND THE MEETING OR WRITE TO THE COMMISSION.   AT&T sent a flyer to its customers asking them write in support of the proposal, so the city has received a number of emails favoring the antennas.

This is a study session for the Commission to ask questions and identify any concerns with the application. The Commission does not vote on an application at a study session, but the application could be brought back for a vote as early as the next P&Z meeting on Jan. 24.

The current proposal suffers from the same problems as it did the last time AT&T brought it forward, which means it violates rooftop coverage and possibly also height limits of our general zoning code.

To try to stop site-by-site controversies such as this one, ARROW supports a citywide moratorium on new cell antennas to allow the city to establish one or more city-owned antenna sites located away from homes and schools, from which wireless providers could serve the whole city and where they would be encouraged to locate.  This is a win-win-win idea.  Neighbors would not have to fight, site by site, to keep antennas away from homes and schools;  carriers could have a streamlined application process; and the city would get monthly income from the carriers.

Verizon Sues City of Albany over Antenna Permit Denial

On Dec. 7, 2011 Verizon Wireless sued the City of Albany CA in federal court to try to overturn the city's wireless regulations as well as the City Council's legitimate decision to refuse to allow upgrades of a non-conforming 65-foot cell tower at 423 San Pablo Ave. The tower exceeds the height limit for that zoning district by 17 feet and is located within 15 feet of an apartment balcony.  

ARROW appreciate all the City Council has done to protect Albany neighborhoods from intrusive wireless installations and to minimize their visual and other impacts in commercial districts.  The Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 clearly preserves the zoning authority of local governments, and the Council has made the right decision to fight this lawsuit and protect Albany's right to regulate where cell towers are located, in accordance with the community's values and wishes while still providing excellent wireless service to residents.

ARROW regrets that the city has to waste resources on bully tactics by a wealthy corporation that would like to take away the city's legitimate land use authority.  Not only our city's right to regulate placement of cell sites is at stake in these legal actions, but the rights of all cities with similar ordinances.   

In November, Crown Castle, the tower owner, filed an application to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) asking the commission to overturn the city's decision regarding the antenna permit.  However, appears unlikely that the CPUC will accept this case

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Albany Council Denies Upgrade to 423 San Pablo Cell Tower

On Nov. 7, the Albany City Council voted to deny the proposed expansion of the cell tower at 423 San Pablo Ave. on the basis that this tower was built before the city adopted wireless regulations and does not conform to those regulations, cities have the right to refuse to extend the lives of non-conforming uses as specified in the Albany zoning ordinance, and the only way an exception to the regulations could be granted would be if the applicant demonstrated with a thorough analysis of alternative locations that there is no other feasible site from which service could be provided. The city has been requesting this alternative site analysis from Verizon for more than a year, but Verizon has refused to prepare it.  Verizon is free to apply to locate the new antennas at any site in the city that conforms to our ordinance.  Thanks to all who wrote letters, spoke at the council meeting, and donated to pay for the independent attorney and radio frequency engineer who analyzed Crown Castle/Verizon's documentation.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mon, Nov. 7, 2011 Hearing on New Antennas for 423 San Pablo Cell Tower

The Albany City Council Final Appeal Hearing on New Antennas for 423 San Pablo Ave. cell tower is scheduled for  Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, 7:30 PM at City Hall, 1000 San Pablo Ave.

ARROW opposes any expansion of this tower because adding new antennas would extend its life indefinitely and set a precedent making it very difficult for residents who live near other towers that predate and violate our ordinance to stop the expansion of those facilities.

This tower violates the city's current zoning regulations for wireless towers (it is 17 feet too tall for the zone where it is located and too close to a residence).   The zoning code prohibits expansion of towers such as this, which were built before the city's wireless regulations were adopted and do not meet the requirements of those regulations.

Insist that the city honor its own ordinance and protect our right to site wireless facilities responsibly, away from homes and schools.

Please check back a few days before the hearing for updates on the key issues that will be addressed at this hearing and a sample letter you can send to the City Council opposing expansion of this tower.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Increased cancer risk for those living within 1/3 mi of a cell tower

A new study by Brazilian scientists has confirmed the finding of two previous studies in Germany and Israel showing 3 to 4 times greater incidence of cancer for those living within one-third mile of a cell tower, with radio-frequency radiation exposures from the tower at levels lower than those allowed by the U.S. standards. The study, by Dode et al. will appear it the Sept. issue of Science of the Total Environment and summarizes the results of the German and Israeli studies:

Mortality by neoplasia and cellular telephone base stations in the Belo Horizonte municipality, Minas Gerais state, Brazil  Science of The Total EnvironmentVolume 409, Issue 191 September 2011Pages 3649-3665

423 San Pablo Appeal Hearing rescheduled to Mon., Sept. 19, 7:30PM

On Tues., Sept. 19, 2011, the Albany City Council will hold a hearing on the denial of new Verizon antennas on the cell tower at 423 San Pablo Ave. behind the former Wachovia building.  The hearing will be at City Hall, 1000 San Pablo Ave. at 7:30PM.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Crown Castle/Verizon tries again to add antennas to 423 San Pablo Cell Tower + other wireless updates

On Sept. 5, 2011, the Albany City Council will hear Crown Castle/Verizon's appeal of a second denial of their application for new antennas at the cell tower at 423 San Pablo Ave., behind the former Wachovia building.  The only way Crown Castle/ Verizon could obtain a permit to place new antennas on the pole would be to prove that there is no other site that the meets the requirements of Albany's zoning code from which wireless service can be provided to Albany residents.  Crown Castle/Verizon has not performed the required analysis to demonstrate that there is no other feasible site; they declined to work with the city's consultant to prepare a complete alternatives analysis and looked only at existing nearby Crown Castle and Verizon sites but did not research new locations that conform to the city's ordinance.

New antennas cannot be added to the pole, which predates Albany's wireless zoning regulations, because it is too tall for the district where it is located, aesthetically offensive, and located within 15' of an apartment building.

In other wireless news, AT&T is expected to reapply soon to add antennas to the roof of 1035 San Pablo  Ave., and T-Mobile is expected to apply to construct cell antennas on top of a utility pole at the intersection of Carmel and Solano Avenues.  AT&T applied for antennas at 1035 San Pablo a year ago but was sent back to the drawing board and encouraged to look at other sites with a greater setback from residential districts because the antennas did not meet zoning requirements.

All three of the proposed antennas listed above are in the San Pablo-Solano commercial district, which is the last-preference zone for cell antennas in Albany's ordinance because of proximity to and impacts on residential districts.