News

Palo Alto OKs cell tower on Channing Avenue

Proposal to put new tower at St. Albert the Great Church faces neighborhood opposition, appeal

A proposal to build a new 50-foot-tall cell tower and nine antennas at St. Albert the Great Church on Channing Avenue has received Palo Alto's approval despite opposition from area residents.

The city's Planning Department granted the AT&T project conditional approval last week, kicking off a 14-day comment period. It didn't take very long for residents who live around the church to voice their opposition to the project.

Stephen Stuart, who lives across the street from the church, submitted a letter to the city after learning about the approval. In it, he argued that the new tower would lower property values in the neighborhood. Neighbors also worry about the possible health effects of the cell tower, though Stuart acknowledged in his letter that health concerns cannot be used to deny AT&T's application.

Instead, Stuart is arguing the tower would violate the city's municipal code and run counter to its Comprehensive Plan. The city's regulations state that utility facilities "essential to provision of utility services to the neighborhood" require a conditional-use permit. Stuart wrote that "wireless facilities are not essential utility service to the neighborhood, and are therefore not a permitted use."

The proposed tower, he wrote, "is injurious to property and improvements through the decrease in property values" and will be "detrimental to general welfare due to demands of 24x7 maintenance, portable generators and hazardous materials."

"Placement of facilities is not required to be in the neighborhood in order to serve the neighborhood," Stuart wrote. "For example, such facilities could be located in adjacent commercial or other non-residential districts and serve the neighborhood."

According to the notice of approval sent to neighbors, the project will include a 50-foot tower and nine wireless antennas. The residents' appeal will trigger a more involved review process, including a hearing in front of the Planning and Transportation Commission.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Mr.BBQ
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2011 at 10:04 am

Great news, now my iphone might work. Never understood, how I got slim to none reception in Silicon Valley, and of all places Steve Job's home town. My neighbors would walk out to the street to get better reception, now they'll be able to make calls and receive calls in their home. Such a novel idea!
I can hardly wait! Think this is the only right decision the city consul has ever made.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2011 at 10:19 am

Interesting, Verizon coverage is perfect without those awful towers in neighborhoods. AT & T has been behind in technology for a very long time, and is now putting up old technology.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2011 at 10:26 am

Glad that the Council made the right decision.


Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 29, 2011 at 10:26 am

"Stephen Stuart, who lives across the street from the church, submitted a letter to the city after learning about the approval. In it, he argued that the new tower would lower property values in the neighborhood."
Mr STuart should provide proof for his claim. Right now, the "lowering property values" is a generic argument that is trotted out everytime something that some people do not like disapprove of. It is a scare tactic.

"Neighbors also worry about the possible health effects of the cell tower, though Stuart acknowledged in his letter that health concerns cannot be used to deny AT&T's application."
So why even bring up health concerns (even though those are bogus arguments also).

""detrimental to general welfare due to demands of 24x7 maintenance, portable generators and hazardous materials." "
There will have to be people working on the tower 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Really?
What hazardous materials is he talking about.

Sounds like plain and simple scare tactics--decreased property values, health risks, hazardous objects etc.

DOes Stuart and the other people that object use cell phones? Do they have microwave ovens at home? Maybe Palo Alto should ban cell phones, microwave ovens and electricity in the city to appease the luddites among us.

I can see it now, if these people would have been around a century ago there would not be any electricity in town!!!!


Like this comment
Posted by St. Albert Neighbor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 11:02 am

I live close to St. Albert's and don't understand the resistance to this cell tower. It shouldn't be very visible, and it will greatly improve cell reception in this part of town.

Did you know that most new phone numbers nowadays are cellular? People aren't even having land lines installed. I'm forced to keep paying for mine because my cell phone doesn't work in or near my house (or my street, for that matter).

Cellular coverage is crucial. I'm glad the council made the right decision. I might be able to save about $80/month if my cell signal improves. Thanks, council.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm

There are already 13 existing towers within ONE MILE of the church. 6 of these towers belong to AT&T. There is no reason AT&T can't use the existing towers, *except* they don't want to spend the $$$. It's cheaper and faster to just slam a new tower in a neighborhood. AT&T wants $$$ and doesn't care about Palo Alto. This is evident in their attempts to divide and conquer our neighborhoods with cell towers, one at a time. Next they want to add 80 cells towers on our telephone poles.

The Catholic Church is in the cell tower business. They earn anywhere from $100k to $300k per year, per tower. ALL TAX FREE. The church wants $$$ and doesn't care about our neighborhood. This is evident in their attempts to put cell towers ON EVERY CHURCH PROPERTY THEY OWN despite countless protests, petitions, and pleas.

Across the nation, cell towers are being put up everywhere, with out a plan. Just slam them in and plug it in -- The City of Palo Alto is just one of thousands of cities across our nation who are cowards.

In my opinion, The City of Palo Alto is so afraid of being sued by AT&T, they have made a calculated risk to give AT&T a conditional approval -- even though it clearly violates Palo Alto's own municipal codes and run counter to Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plan.

AT&T doesn't care about Palo Alto.
The Church doesn't care about Palo Alto.
The City of Palo Alto is afraid of AT&T.

We must stand together and say:

I will NOT be bullied by AT&T.
I will NOT be bullied by the church.
I *WILL FIGHT* AT&T, until the City of Palo Alto forces them to withdrawal their application.

The residents of Palo Alto need to stand together to find an intelligent responsible way to improve wireless service. We are Palo Alto. *WE* are supposed to be the leader's of Silicon Valley. It's more than -- does my phone work?? Think of your community, your children, your real estate values and the kind of person you want to be... We must do what's best for our entire community.

Hey AT&T "rethink possible" -- You've underestimated Palo Alto -- the fight has just begun.


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Why not disgiuse it as a FAKE PALO ALTO TREE???

Spanish to English translation:

Palo Alto (, from Spanish: palo: "stick" (or "pole" or "tree") and alto: "tall")

That should make the NIMBY's and the techno-freaks happy!


That would be in line with many of the fake Palo Alto citizens I've had to put up with before I moved...

And saw the GREEN wind power towers, the fake tree and building towers...

But the PA fakers would probably complain about that....

P.S. Many people have fried their brains already by holding their cell phones to their ears...which would explain the type of comments about a tower...Read up on the INVERSE SQUARE LAW when it comes to transmitters....


Like this comment
Posted by Satisfied resident
a resident of Southgate
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:36 pm

The correct decision was made. My family followed progress in other communities where towers were also built. AT&T was very convincing that this was a good idea, resulting in better reception & a health risk being nill. Congratulations on advancing this project.


Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Great news!

As a long-time resident of Crescent Park, I'm very pleased by the City's decision here. I sincerely hope the City denies all appeals, if any.

Enhanced cell phone coverage will noticeably impact my phone's performance. And, as noted by others elsewhere, better phone performance -- triggered by new towers -- will substantially reduce the health impact of using my cell phone.


Like this comment
Posted by Happy CC resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:25 pm

So glad to hear that the city approved this project! I live 2 blocks from the church, and I look forward to some cell reception. It's about time! It's been laughable, although not very funny, that Palo Alto has had such poor cell service for such a long time.

Sorry Mr. Stuart, but I don't buy the argument that our property values will decline because of this. In fact, with no cell service, our values could in fact decline over time. I also know enough to understand that the tower is not a health concern. And lastly, Mr Stuart, perhaps you don't realize that cell service has become a necessary utility service which people rely upon, and we need to support cell towers that can provide us with this service.

I hope Palo Alto will move as rapidly as possible with this project.


Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Yes! Glad the sensible decision was made.


Like this comment
Posted by Ann Marie
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm

This is an absurd! Residents need to fight against this decision.


Like this comment
Posted by worried parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Parents are fighting cell towers at schools are everywhere not just Palo Alto. AT&T doesn't care about kids, neighborhoods, or real estate value. They just want $$$.

Web Link

Parents upset about planned high school cell tower


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Even though I life in a different part of Palo Alto, I sympathize with those who are near the proposed cell tower. I'm disappointed in AT&T and the Church. There are, after all, underpriveleged children that attend the school within that Church, and as you may know, radiation absorption is highest in our youngest populations, so we must at the very least keep these cell towers away from high populations of children (eg: schools!). All those in favor of the cell tower are those who are having their cake and eating it too - they get the benefits of the increased coverage, but are not close enough that their families or their children will be subjected to radiation, nor will their property values be lowered (the cell tower WILL lower nearby property values, you can ask any impartial real estate agent, and they'll tell you that it's a substantiated trend). Yet, the supporters balk at those nearby residents that oppose the cell tower for the same reasons they would if they were in the same situation. And to scoff at those with health concerns? I think it's despicable. Probably the same kinds of people that would have smoked back in the day and scoff at those that were nearby who didn't want second-hand smoke. I'm sure their defense (and the tobacco industry's) was that they were being paranoid about second-hand smoke, and that it was perfectly safe. We all know what happened there. Words are cheap. Offer to pay for health coverage for those impacted by the cell tower (should you be wrong), and maybe the opposers would be more willing to listen to you. It's preposterous that people can't deny cell tower construction on that basis. Remind me again, this is the land of the free is it not? If we were living in a communist society, perhaps that would be the norm. But forcing this type of utility that has potential health hazards is anti-American, anti-democratic. Noone should be forced to accept something they don't want. If you search the Web deep enough, you'll learn that the very same person, Rusty Monroe, who wrote the 1996 Telecommunications Act (which prevents municipalities from denying cell construction on the basis of health concerns) into legislature has now dedicated his life to fighting that very same law, helping municipalities fight cell towers from being constructed. He realized it was wrong and felt guilty for all the families across America that were being exposed to unwanted radiation, and has since stopped over 3000 cell towers from being constructed. I applaud him for doing the right thing, but it has to go further. This 1996 Telecommunications Act must be repealed. It's anti-American, and it's there (and still there) because of the cell industry's high powered lobbyists. Until it's repealed, local communities should stand together and fight against irresponsible placement of cell towers.


Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Read website about cell towers:
Web Link

Help fight the church on Channing cell tower at:
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Leigh Klotz
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I think property values will go up. In years past, houses poorly sited for DSL installation (based on number of feet from a telco bbox) were shunned by some buyers. Having cell service work better in the home will be an increasing advantage as we shift more to mobile internet connections. I wish they hadn't prevented the installation of a site at the Eicher swim club site in my neighborhood. I feel pretty sure it's decreased my property value by having worse cell coverage.

Although I'm not an ATT Wireless customer, I think they're doing the right thing by making more bandwidth available to Palo Alto residents, and I feel sorry for those who have to deal with the scaremongers.


Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Of this I have little doubt: cell coverage is an absolutely essential utility service in the City of Palo Alto. Accessing the cell network -- whether by phone; computer; or other means -- is absolutely critical here and elsewhere. In the event of an emergency, redundant means of communication is of great importance.

From an engineering and public health perspective, the more towers, the better, in theory: as towers proliferate, the need for tower power and reach diminishes and the need for phones to compensate for poor coverage declines. It's this 'phone-based compensation' which is of most concern here.


Like this comment
Posted by Great Decision!
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm


Wonderful! There's hope for the sane after all...


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm

If you let AT&T put up 80 new towers, are you going to let the other 3-4 phone carriers put up towers, too? That comes to approximately 400 new towers.

Also, what about the sound emitted by the motors of the fans that cool the units? The fans will turn on when the temperature hits 74 degrees, which is most of the time, especially in the summer months.
My understanding is that the noise of the fans is approximately 64 decibels. Multiply that noise times 5, when the other phone companies put up their towers.


Like this comment
Posted by RE: resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2011 at 10:34 pm

I don't think the City of Palo Alto is afraid of AT&T. I think the city's struck a deal that somehow benefits them. Tell me why they only charge AT&T a $2000 wireless facility (cell tower) permit application, when they can easily charge AT&T $5000? Why is that the city is reluctant to get help with preventing cell tower construction? Why is it that they make it so convenient for AT&T to put up cell towers? I don't know what it is that the city is getting out of this deal, but it's also probably something they wouldn't want exposed.


Like this comment
Posted by More Cell Towers = Less Radiation. Give me a break!
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2011 at 11:07 pm

For all those who claim that it's better to have more cell towers because that way it'll be less radiation (at the phone), using your line of reasoning, I have an even better suggestion for those who oppose cell towers. Let's convince each of them to place cell towers directly onto their properties. That way, when they use their cell phones (assuming they do), they'll not only have exceptional cell reception, but they'll have the lowest cell phone radiation. For the times they're not on a cell phone (the vast majority of their time), we'll just need to convince them that the 24/7 radiation that's emitted from the high powered cell towers is negligible. This plan is brilliant!


Like this comment
Posted by Celly
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of those most vocally in favor of the proliferation of cell towers have their careers invested in the cell industry, or some cell-related industry. In which case, potential health concerns (whether they be your's, their's, adults or children) or any concerns for that matter, just stand in the way of their careers. Really a sad social commentary. At the heart of it, this all comes down to Wall Street corporate greed, no different than the same corporate greed that caused the financial meltdown in 2008.


Like this comment
Posted by Local Observer
a resident of Los Altos
on Mar 29, 2011 at 11:38 pm

A lot of ignorance is apparent in this message thread.

GSM cellphones (AT&T and T-Mobile) can pump out up to 2.5 Watts in their attempt to reach a distant cellphone tower. More (and closer) towers means the phone instruments can scale-down their power.

Some reasonable information can be found on this Wikipedia page:

Web Link

If you want to know where all the AT&T and T-Mobile cell towers are located in the greater Bay Area, visit this site for a push-pin display on a Google map (note the push-pin display will take a while to load):

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Another Local Observer
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2011 at 12:51 am

I agree there's a lot of ignorance in this message board. If it's not yet been scientifically proven that cell towers pose health hazards, then we must presume it's safe and must convince others not to worry even if recent research seems to indicate otherwise.

Let's ignore that research, and let's ignore the radiation from more (and closer) cell towers.

Let's also ignore the 3x-4x increase in childhood leukemia from living near power lines (EMF radiation), cancer risks of saccharin, lung cancer risks from smoking and asbestos, health risks from numerous pharmaceutical drugs, etc., while we're at it. These were all also presumed to be "safe" at one point in time, even though they lacked the long term scientific data behind them.


Like this comment
Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 8:24 am

It's best to reply on science here; it's interesting to read at the wikipedia page about the studies done to date on this subject; thanks for the link.

To borrow from the wikipedia page, '(a)ttenuation of power with the square of distance' greatly reduces the impact of cell tower radiation; just modest changes in distance significantly drops radiation levels.

Better cell tower coverage, however, reduces cell phone radiation.


Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 9:08 am

Where is the City of Palo Alto's comprehensive plan for cell coverage across the city and how does this tower's placement fit into it? I have yet to see or read anything about strategic decisions on cell coverage needs and how the city will work with providers to get it. This seems like a pretty random placement when you consider dead zones in several parts of town.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 30, 2011 at 11:44 am

Again, with no evidence of danger from cell phone towers, and definitive 20+ year studies proving no link between between cell phone use and any disease, why is this still being brought up as an issue?


Like this comment
Posted by KnownEntity
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:37 am

It WILL be ok healthwise for the cell towers. Really.


Like this comment
Posted by techie
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 2, 2011 at 3:18 am

Oh wonderful.. I spent over an hour writing a posting, and then when I submitted it, it complained that I had the wrong capcha, and wiped it out. Tosay that I am annoyed is putting it mildly.

Short version:

Mr Stuart is acting like a spoiled child.

The city MAY approve or deny based on local zoning. The city MAY NOT use RF exposure as a criteria in their decision. 47 USC 332(c)(7)

The map linked from a previous post shows the large hole in AT&T coverage. The map shows only AT&T (green and blue) and T-Mobile (violet and brown) sites. Some sites are very low level, mounted on utility poles. Stanford ave/J Serra is an example. The nearest AT&T sites are downtown, and along East Bayshore.


Like this comment
Posted by San Carlos Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm

The residents of San Carlos are fighting the same fight with T-Mobile. The phone company is trying to erect a 50 foot tower in a R1 residential area 15 feet from neighboring homes. The residents of San Carlos have fought tooth and nail with the planning department and the city council, but the city has turned it's back to the citizens and has shamefully approved the T-Mobile application. The cities along the penisula should join forces and fight this intrusion with a bigger, unified force. check out the San Carlos link at: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by joelja
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm

"Let's also ignore the 3x-4x increase in childhood leukemia from living near power lines (EMF radiation),"

we can because there isn't one.

the research supporting that assertion was flat out fraudulent.

Web Link


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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