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.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

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.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Palo Alto approves AT&T's antenna plan

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

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Dec 21, 2011, 9:54 am

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

Sherry
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:27 am
Sherry, Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:27 am
Like this comment

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


About Time
Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:35 am
About Time, Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:35 am
Like this comment

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


James
Greenmeadow
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:48 am
James, Greenmeadow
on Dec 21, 2011 at 10:48 am
Like this comment

Great!


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

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.


inga
Green Acres
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:23 am
inga, Green Acres
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:23 am
Like this comment

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


Stu Berman
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:38 am
Stu Berman, Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:38 am
Like this comment

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


rem
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:46 am
rem, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:46 am
Like this comment

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...


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

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?


William Tabby
Midtown
on Dec 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm
William Tabby, Midtown
on Dec 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm
Like this comment

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!


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

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.


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

> 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.


Susan
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm
Susan, Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm
Like this comment

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.


David
Community Center
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm
David, Community Center
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm
Like this comment

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.


Dave
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm
Dave, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm
Like this comment

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.


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

> 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?


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

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.




scott
Ventura
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm
scott, Ventura
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm
Like this comment

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


just say no
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm
just say no, Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm
Like this comment

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.


Sid
Professorville
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm
Sid, Professorville
on Dec 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm
Like this comment

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


Misha
Midtown
on Dec 22, 2011 at 12:48 am
Misha, Midtown
on Dec 22, 2011 at 12:48 am
Like this comment

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.


Luis Quevedo
Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm
Luis Quevedo, Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm
Like this comment

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

Web Link

also: Web Link


stanly
Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm
stanly, Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm
Like this comment

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.


Walter_E_Wallis
Registered user
Midtown
on Dec 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm
Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm
Like this comment

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.


Stanley
Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm
Stanley, Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm
Like this comment

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.


Need cell phone reception
Midtown
on Dec 25, 2011 at 10:08 am
Need cell phone reception, Midtown
on Dec 25, 2011 at 10:08 am
Like this comment

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


JC
Fairmeadow
on Dec 30, 2011 at 6:49 am
JC, Fairmeadow
on Dec 30, 2011 at 6:49 am
Like this comment

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


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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