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AT&T withdraws Palo Alto cell-tower application
Original post made
on Nov 19, 2010
AT&T has withdrawn its application to install a 75-foot-tall cell-phone tower at the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club in Palo Alto.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Friday, November 19, 2010, 9:28 AM
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Posted by Celly
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 21, 2010 at 10:50 pm
Okay Bill, I'd be glad to add you and your wife to the cast of characters behind the protest. I explain below the reasons for my oversight.
Regarding the board's actions and the growth of the opposition to them, let's look at the history in more detail. On about October 25, people with property within 600 feet of the club received a notice from the city advising them that a permit had been filed by AT&T.
That notice went out despite the board's explicit instructions to AT&T's contractor, Trillium, that the permit not be filed until they had a chance to communicate with their members. As you say, your wife sent an email to a member of the board asking what was going on. She received a response the next morning apologizing for the unintentionally poor communications. She was also told that AT&T had not yet provided the board with all the information that they needed to make a presentation to the members, but that the board was working on setting up a forum for members once this information was available.
You and your wife continued to make email inquiries of the board, after October 26, when your first email was answered, and you were sent prompt updates in response to your inquiries. It was made clear in these updates that the board had never had any intention of signing a contract with AT&T without first discussing it with members. (It is curious, by the way, that you made no mention of radiation concerns in any of those numerous early emails prior to November 4. They were exclusively concerned with questions about how tall the tower would be, how it would be maintained, what access rights AT&T would have for maintenance, etc. I suppose your inner physician/engineer hadn't kicked into gear yet.)
Eleven days later, on November 4, the board held a meeting at the club to discuss the tower with members. Up to that point, you had no basis for bemoaning the board's lack of transparency or morality, because they had been in almost continual communication with you and had made it clear that they had done nothing to warrant such accusations. Therefore, I find it odd that you or your wife would feel the need to band together with anyone else at that point because of dissatisfaction with the board's behavior.
When the meeting was held, somehow non-members showed up even though it was to be a members-only meeting. Nevertheless the board was quite gracious in listening to the concerns of everyone present. In addition to listening to people talk both in favor and against the tower idea, the board explained once again how Trillium had neglected the board's request that they be given time to communicate with their members before the permit application was filed. The Trillium rep acknowledged at that meeting that Trillium, not the board, was to blame, and apologized for the mistake.
The board also made it clear at that meeting that they would be polling their members and would continue the discussions with neighbors as soon as they had the results. However, at least some of the attending non-membersparticularly Patti, Larry, and Michaelmade it quite clear that they were not interested in dialogue. Larry warned the board that this could get nasty. Patti was quite loud and rude and her behavior reminded me of left-wing tactics I had observed in the sixties, as practiced by followers of Saul Alinsky. Larry later confirmed my suspicion when he told me that Patti had been trained by someone who had been trained by Alinksy. Michael informed the group that he had created a web site, what turned out to be the precursor to the StopFakeTree.org, with all sorts of anti-antenna references.
So, forgive me for assuming that the StopFakeTree group was spearheaded by Patti, Larry and Michael, but it sure looked that way after the November 4 meeting. Maybe the November 4 meeting marked the merger of your member faction (concerned about the club's historical integrity and the tyranny of the board) with the non-member faction (with their community organizing chops).
By November 14, Larry had posted his NIMBY article on the Merc's web site and Patti had spent the weekend soliciting neighbors (some would say harassing them) to sign an anti-antenna petition. Flyers had been placed on the windshields of cars in the club neighborhood. The next week, Palo Verde parents were informed of what terrible things would befall their children due to the radiation-emitting fake tree that would be installed over 600 feet away.
Listen, I don't blame you and your comrades for using whatever methods you could to protect the property values that you felt were threatened, even though I'm not convinced that they were ever under threat. But please don't tell us about the club's historical values and the board's non-transparency. The board tried its best to communicate with its members and with the rest of the community. They went out of their way to communicate with you and your wife personally, as can be attested to by the long trail of emails you exchanged with them. An organization can't be transparent to someone with his eyes shut tight to everything but what he wants to see.
This was a battle of one set of property owners versus another, pure and simple. Even though the member poll was never taken, the consensus of the members as measured by their emails to board members was decidedly in favor of installing the tower. I would argue that those who wanted the tower for the club, combined with the even larger group of people who want better cell service, should have organized as professionally as the StopFakeTree people. But although they would have represented the majority, their fervor could probably never compete with that of a smaller group of people dedicated to protecting their perceived housing values.