Architectural board blasts proposed AT&T tower

Board sends proposal for Channing Avenue cell tower back to the drawing board

AT&T's quest to plant cellular towers and Wi-Fi antennas in Palo Alto has proved taxing for company officials, city staff and concerned residents around the proposed sites.

On Thursday, the city dealt AT&T's plans a blow when the Architectural Review Board panned the company's plans to install a cell tower at 1095 Channing Ave., property owned by the St. Albert the Great Church. The board demanded more information about the design and voted 4-1 to continue the item to a later date.

Board members asked company officials to provide a floor plan for the proposed facility and to give them more information about lighting and materials.

Board member Judith Wasserman, the sole dissenter, said the design has "no redeeming architectural value" and called for AT&T to start over altogether.

"I just think it's a poor design," Wasserman said. "In order for this to work architecturally, it's got a long way to go."

The proposed cell tower has already received tentative approval from the city's planning department. Residents around the church protested the plan, prompting a series of public hearings. The city's Planning and Transportation Commission is scheduled to review the proposal on May 4.

The Thursday hearing capped a week of mixed results for AT&T, which has several proposals in the city's pipeline. The City Council approved on Monday night AT&T's request to install Wi-Fi antennas on the sixth-floor balcony of Hotel President on University Avenue but only after AT&T agreed not to go through residents' apartments to install or maintain the antennas.

To comply with this condition, AT&T employee will likely have to use a cherry picker to reach the balconies on University Avenue, taking up parking spots on the city's busiest commercial strip while work is done.

Planning & Community Environment Director Curtis Williams told the council this week that the city is anticipating more cell-tower applications and proposed a study session to discuss the myriad contentious issues around the subject, including visual impact, public-outreach requirements and the antennas' impacts on property values.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 11, 2011 at 10:06 am

Typical action from our ARB. Does anyone remember anything the ARB actually liked? Judith Wasserman is usually the ringleader in denigrating other's design work and she does not disappoint here.

However the "best" part of the story is something the Weekly chose not to report on, but the Daily News did on Friday:
Web Link
"However, neighborhood residents who spoke said they don’t want to see any version of a cell tower because its radio frequency emissions could cause health problems and its presence could lower property values. Tru Love, a Channing Avenue resident, said she jokes that the “city of Palo Alto should rename themselves ‘Antenna Alto, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T.’ “Mommies like me, we’re not going to buy houses in Palo Alto,” Love said. “We’re going to go somewhere else where they protect our children and they protect our property values.”

Isn;t it about time that the city and it's various committees demand proof of some of the outrageous claims that these naysayers repeat ad nauseam?
despite the abundance of studies to the contrary, these negative individuals constantly put forth the claim of "health risks" from cell phone antennas. Let's see the studies they are using to make those claims.

Second the comment about "reduced property values"--this is a generic scare tactic,w here you come out against something because you claim that it will decrease your property value. Let us see the proof for that claim also. Also does the city have the obligation to maintain your home's value if it means not doing something for the good of the public.

Finally Ms Love's comments ("‘Antenna Alto, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T." and "We’re going to go somewhere else where they protect our children and they protect our property values.”") our ridiculous comments with no basis in fact whatsoever. How anyone can take these comments seriously is beyond belief. Love and her husband have shown their true colors with their comments and actions. It is now time for the city to stand up to these bullies and demand that they provide proof for their outrageous, inaccurate and false claims.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

This is unneeded barratry. I saw the rendering of the tower and see nothing wrong with it. It is consistent with the base building construction and even makes it look more "Churchy." The only thing better would have been a straight electronic tower unadorned. I believe it is time for Tru Luv to make good her threat and go to some towerless town.
It is past time to reduce the authority of the architectural review board to nails and paint.

Like this comment
Posted by Defective judgement
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

A "rendering" by AT&T is worth nothing. They did not submit complete plans to the ARB so there is no way of knowing whether it was accurate. Or accurate from a block away, or partly fictitious. It is 8x8 feet square.
Walter, you came to a conclusion from a developer's "rendering," their hoped for look. That's not an intelligent way to judge.
Are you sure you went to engineering school?

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2011 at 8:06 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I formed an opinion based on the evidence. While I would have preferred a plain electronic tower, as long as we are playing this childish hidey hidey, the tower proposed looks O.K. Hey, it's just a church, not the Vatican. At any rate, we know the real reason behind the rejection, don't we?

Like this comment
Posted by iSoar
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm

"At any rate, we know the real reason behind the rejection, don't we?"

Wasn't ugly enough?

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2011 at 8:42 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Ugly? Only if you consider the rest of the building ugly. The tower was consistent with the rest of the structure.

Like this comment
Posted by iSoar
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Regard that church as you will, it is much too pretty to be approved by the ARB today, and the same for a matching tower.

Verdict: not near ugly enough. Add some zinc here, some red stone there, emphasize the articulation of the fenestration, and come back in a month.

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

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Couple brings Chinese zongzi to Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 5,987 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 9 comments | 1,808 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,561 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,212 views

The kindness of strangers
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 509 views


Register today!

​On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More