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Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 6, 2012

News Digest

City's cell-tower plan meets cool reception

A proposal by Palo Alto officials to create a citywide plan for cell towers is unlikely to prevent AT&T from installing dozens of antennas at local neighborhoods in the coming months, the company informed the city in a letter Monday, July 2.

The City Council on Monday directed staff to solicit proposals from communication companies that would help the city come up with the wireless-communication plan. The plan will likely rely largely on large "macro" cell towers placed on the city's utilities substations to boost Palo Alto's cell reception and data capacity and could prompt revisions to the zoning ordinance to make these towers legal.

The plan is Palo Alto's response to a proposal by AT&T to install about 80 small antennas on existing utility poles throughout the city. The council approved the first 20 antennas in AT&T's "distributed antenna system (DAS)," which drew heavy criticism from some residents in the affected neighborhoods. In recent discussions, council members have been leaning toward allowing fewer towers of larger sizes rather than the scattering of antennas.

The council last week learned that three macro towers could blanket the entire city with cell coverage, according to Crown Castle, a communications-equipment vendor. These towers would have to be between 225 and 280 feet in height, however. the city could also opt for six smaller towers (about 100 feet high) and 21 distributed antennas, a Crown Castle representative said.

The council voted 8-0 Monday night, with Gail Price absent, to support a staff suggestion to solicit proposals from communication companies and explore zoning changes. But the plan is unlikely to deter AT&T from pursuing its controversial distributed-antenna strategy.

The company's attorney, John di Bene, submitted a letter to the city Monday arguing that the proposal to install the macro towers would not "obviate the need for the pending DAS nodes and additional macro sites to address coverage and capacity needs within the city."

"Once again, while AT&T appreciates staff's proactive approach to these issues, the city cannot consider macro facilities at city-owned substations to be a timely alternative for existing network expansion plans," wrote Attorney Paul Albritton, who has been representing AT&T at recent public hearings in Palo Alto.

Police arrest man for Independence Day stabbing

Police have arrested a man suspected in a stabbing that left another man seriously injured in East Palo Alto Wednesday night, July 4.

Witnesses flagged down police on University Avenue at around 10 p.m. and told them a man had been stabbed in the neck, police said. The victim, a 20-year-old East Palo Alto resident, was taken to a hospital to be treated for his injury, according to police.

Police said witnesses directed them to Roberto Romero, 30, of East Palo Alto, and Romero was arrested.

Information on the victim's condition was not immediately available.

East Palo Alto police are asking anyone with information about the stabbing to call 650-321-1112.

Foothill graduates 657 at 52nd commencement

Messages of seizing the moment, taking risks and giving back to the community filled the speeches of Foothill College's 52nd annual commencement Friday, June 29, at the Los Altos Hills campus.

657 graduates were honored that evening, though barely a third of those graduates attended the event.

Foothill College President Judy Miner announced the achievements of the class of 2012, including 100 percent passing rates in many license and certificate exams. The veterinary technicians of the group were particularly vocal when she announced their perfect score.

Student speaker Joseph Otayde graduated with an associate in arts degree in political science and said that he will be continuing his education at University of California, Berkeley.

"Public education gave me the tools for social mobility and success," he said, mentioning the importance of "ladders of mobility" that public institutions such as Foothill offer students of all socio-economic backgrounds. "Faculty and staff did not let these ladders fail, and they did not let these ladders break."

Otayde emphasized the importance of giving back to institutions like Foothill now that he and his fellow graduates are "the leaders of the future."

This same message was echoed by keynote speaker Ross Mayfield, who attended Foothill in 1988 and graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. Since graduating from college, Mayfield has become an active Internet entrepreneur, starting several successful business developments such as SlideShare and Socialtext.

"Find ways if you can to give back as much as you can," he told the graduates.

— Lauren-Marie Sliter

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