News

Palo Alto approves AT&T's antenna plan

Company has a year to begin construction; appeal is still possible

AT&T's proposal to install antennas on 19 utility poles throughout Palo Alto has received the green light from the city's planning department.

A week after the city's Architectural Review Board voted to support the company's controversial plan, the planning department sent AT&T a letter approving the installation of the equipment. The Dec. 16 letter from Current Planning Manager Amy French states that approval will become official in 14 days unless an appeal is filed.

The AT&T proposal is the first phase of a larger plan, which calls for about 80 antennas. The company has consistently maintained that the equipment is necessary to meet the heavy demand in the city. Many residents have opposed the proposal, arguing that AT&T's proposed equipment is unsightly and disruptive.

After hearing from both sides, the ARB voted 4-0 on Dec. 8 to approve the plan and added a long list conditions designed to minimize the visual impact of the new equipment. This includes planting trees to cover up the equipment and using colors that make the new antennas less conspicuous. AT&T had already agreed to change the design of the antennas, reducing the number of antennas on each pole from two to one.

The company will also be required to test the radio-frequency level and the decibel level of the new equipment to make sure they don't exceed city regulations.

Opponents of the plan have until the end of this month to appeal the approval. At the ARB meeting, several residents urged the board to reject the plan and called on the city to come up with a "master plan" for cell equipment throughout the city.

Ben Linder, who spoke at the meeting, said the city is "considering a tactical approach to what is actually a very strategic and long-term problem."

"I'm worried we'll end up with five carriers, each wanting 20 poles to cover the city of Palo Alto," Linder told the board.

If the approval is not appealed, the company will have a year to begin construction on the new installations.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Sherry
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:27 am

Yes! About time. Too bad it didn't come before we invested in Micro Cells for the house.


Like this comment
Posted by About Time
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:35 am

Does this mean I might be able to finally use my cell phone in Palo Alto. Wow into the 20th Century and moving forward. What a joke these NIMBY's have been. Palo Alto the technology hub "NOT".

Get over yourselves, every other city has cell phone coverage and they survive


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

Great!


Like this comment
Posted by A-Strong-Wireless-Signal-Is-Good
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

Let's hope that this goes through without an appeal.

It would be nice if AT&T, or the City, would post the noise measurements on-line, so that people can get a sense of just how much (or little) noise these units generate. There has been a lot of hoopla up to and including the “property values will go down” canard, which should have been dealt with up front by AT&T by posting actual audio recordings on-line at 20 feet, 50 feet and 100 feet, with the measured audio power levels, so that people could understand how silly the complaints have been.

Trust is so easily established if companies would just be open with folks, and not treat us like idiots.


Like this comment
Posted by inga
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

Hurray, Hurray, Finally we will be able to use our cell phones at home and not in another towns parking lot.


Like this comment
Posted by Stu Berman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

Yay. Every once in a while the city manages to take a step forward in spite of the NIMBY factions.


Like this comment
Posted by rem
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:46 am

rem is a registered user.

HOT DOG, I will be able to walk around my house with out losing a signal..

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

By the way I have been using a cell phone since 1995...


Like this comment
Posted by Not-a-cell-fan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

Cell phone coverage is *NOT* a right!
What will the city get in return?
Is ATT paying 'rent' for the space? Do we get a cut of the revenue?


Like this comment
Posted by William Tabby
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm

How fast do you want to get cancer? Don't you understand that the wireless industry is killing us? Causing cancer? Those mainstream "studies" funded by the wireless industry showing "no healh effects" are flawed to keep you in the dark?

This is criminal. Why should I have to die early because you want better cell phone coverage!


Like this comment
Posted by OK to a point
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Not-a-cell-fan: Cell phone coverage is "NOT" a right. Yes, you are correct, but many of the utility poles are owned jointly by AT&T and the City.

I'm not opposed to the new cell towers I'm opposed to the noisy fans that will be installed one-third of the way up the poles. On warm days these fans will be buzzing constantly, glad they're not outside my bedroom window.


Like this comment
Posted by A-Strong-Wireless-Signal-Is-Good
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

> Not a right ..

Nor is access to a land land communications device (such as a telephone). What an odd thing to say in this day and age. There are over 5B cell phones in the world, out of 7B people. There are more cell phones than land lines.

> Is ATT paying 'rent' for the space?

Supposedly.

> Do we get a cut of the revenue?

The utility poles are owned by the Municipal Corporation, which like all corporations, is a "fiction of law". In this case, it is not owned by the "voters", or the "residents", or the "tax payers". It exists for its own purposes--which seems to be to make multimillionaires out of its employees, these days.


Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Stop the presses. An appeal has been filed to the City of Palo Alto. Let's put the humming antennas in front of the homes of the people who are in favor of the antennas. Let them assume the risk of cancer.


Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Let sanity reign! There is no meaningful evidence that either these antennas or cell towers contribute toward cancer or any other ills. This community has been absurd in its behavior. It's time for our city government to work quickly to allow for improvements in cell service.


Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm

What about the foothills? Can AT&T, Verizon and other cell providers please improve coverage for users in the foothills too? It is bad when someone hiking or biking must move a half mile to get a cell signal when one our friends crashes or gets injured. Improved coverage should not be just for the flatlanders.


Like this comment
Posted by A-Strong-Wireless-Signal-Is-Good
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm

> It is bad when someone hiking or biking must move a half mile to
> get a cell signal when one our friends crashes or gets injured.

And just how far do you have to hike to find a land line to call for emergency aid up in the foothills?


Like this comment
Posted by A-Strong-Wireless-Signal-Is-Good
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm

How popular are cell phones?

Well .. just ask Google ---
---
CHART OF THE DAY: Google Is Activating 700,000 Android Devices Daily:

Web Link
---

But here in Palo Alto, the "birthplace of Silicon Valley", we have "Luddites" who have the right to make crazy statements, and use the political process to stop progress.




Like this comment
Posted by scott
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm

This seems like a big step forward. How about commissioning a piece of artwork (paid by AT&T) to accompany every tower install? Every pole in the city is bound to have something perched to it soon, so let's start a precedent now. Imagine how pleasant these towers will be when we are driving our flying cars (and talking on our cell phones) across the city in the not too distant future.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by just say no
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm

If everyone who was opposed to cell phone towers would just turn off their cell phones, then this problem would go away. The hypocrites are the problem.


Like this comment
Posted by Sid
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Does this only improve reception for ATT customers, or do the wirless companies share connections? It would be good if they did...


Like this comment
Posted by Misha
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 22, 2011 at 12:48 am

When I am driving and see a bad accident happen or someone needs some help, I am grateful to be able to use my cell phone but only if it works. Which it does not here in Palo Alto.

I'm sure that an appeal has been or will be filed, further delaying Palo Alto's entry into the 21st century. I hope that there is not an endless appeal process and that progress can finally be made.


Like this comment
Posted by Luis Quevedo
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Palo Alto & AT&T should consider using the Alcatel-Lucent lightradio cubicle, if they are not doing so already.

Web Link

also: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by stanly
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm

What's the opposite of cell phone tower nimby? I don't know, but there are certainly plenty in PA. Granted, having complete cell coverage is nice, and yet, somehow humanity has survived century after century without them, until now. Many people don't want a cell tower in their front, or back yard. I would not. How about all those cell tower fans who's life can't move forward without 100% coverage so all those aps work all the time, call ATT and request that the cell towers be planted in their yards. In fact, insist on it, afterall, isn't this for your improved digital lifestyle?
Don't whine about poor coverage and demand action, but let someone else get stuck with a cell tower.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Stanley, if I could get a cell tower in my back or front yard tomorrow I would jump at it. I understand they pay very nice rent.


Like this comment
Posted by Stanley
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Walter, You are correct!

The potential income from hosting a cell tower could be a nice source of income. Sadly, however, I suspect any rent, I assume/hope ATT will be paying rent, will disappear into the Palo Alto Utilities mystery fund, along with all the excess charges we all pay every month on our utility bills.


Like this comment
Posted by Need cell phone reception
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

I agree with keeping safety for emergency for sure! So I agree with: A-Strong-Signal-Is-Good.


Like this comment
Posted by JC
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 30, 2011 at 6:49 am

Bad idea.....and when we finally put utilities undergound, how do we reverse this psis-poor decision?


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

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