News

Verizon wins approval for cell antennas at Little League ballpark

Architectural Review Board votes Thursday to support contentious proposal

Opponents of Verizon's plan to install a cell antenna at the Little League ballfield on Middlefield Road suffered a second blow in as many days Thursday morning when the Architectural Review Board voted to approve the project.

The board voted 3-1, with Chair Lee Lippert dissenting and Vice Chair Randy Popp recusing himself, to approve Verizon's application to install three cell antennas on a new 65-foot pole, which would replace an existing 60-foot light pole. The vote came one day after the Historic Resources Board ruled that the 1952 ballpark should not be listed in the city's historic inventory.

The architectural board's ruling was far from surprising. At a hearing last month, several members indicated that they will support the project, but requested more information about materials and colors of the new pole and the equipment enclosure. This week, after Verizon returned with more details, the board voted to approve the project over the objections of nearby residents.

As at prior meetings, several speakers argued that the new equipment would be unsightly, unsafe or both. Jason Yotopoulos, who lives across the street from the ballpark and who nominated the field for the Historic Inventory, argued Thursday that since the ballpark's construction in 1952, the city has approved close to 20 different "use permits" relating to new equipment, lighting and field modifications. At least eight permits were subsequently violated, he said, with the property owner failing to comply with conditions relating to such things as noise and light. The city cannot simply continue to issue new conditional use permits for the site.

"The bottom line is, ad hoc incrementalism with permitting does not work for our city," Yotopoulos told the board.

Willy Lai, who also opposes the new cell equipment, criticized Verizon for constantly changing the equipment's design and accused the company of creating a "moving target."

"The project needs to freeze," Lai said. "People need to be on the same page."

The sentiment was far from unanimous. Several residents, including Ken Allen, argued at both meetings that many of their neighbors support the Verizon project, which would boost cell reception in the area. The telecom company has also agreed to the architectural board's recommendation that the new pole be 18 inches in diameter. Last month, Verizon was considering building a pole that would either be 18 or 24 inches in diameter.

In their comments, the architecture board emphasized its purview over the controversial project is limited to "quality" and "character" of the proposed equipment. Lippert ultimately voted against the project after his colleagues rejected his suggestion that Verizon make the new pole sky blue, to camouflage it against the sky.

Lippert also expressed concern about the potential of other cell equipment being added to the pole in the future and felt there should have been language addressing what is known as "colocation."

His colleagues, for the most part, focused on the look and feel of the new equipment and decided that Verizon's latest proposal merits approval.

"We are really concerned with the quality and character, and I believe the applicant has done a very good job at minimizing the impact of this facility on the ballfield and had made a number of modifications in response to our comments and those of others," board member Clare Malone Prichard said.

Board member Alex Lew also pointed out that the new pole and cell equipment would be 300 feet from the sidewalk and about 385 feet from the nearest apartment.

"We're talking about a huge distance," Lew said. "It's not something that's in anybody's backyard."

Comments

Posted by guyz
a resident of Fairmeadow

on Oct 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm


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1 person likes this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

> Willy Lai, who also opposes the new cell equipment, criticized Verizon
> for constantly changing the equipment's design and accused the company of
> creating a "moving target."

That's how technology works. Generally, everything gets smaller, cheaper, and provides higher performance. That's what makes technology such a good investment.

Got to wonder if anyone will be able to see more than the tip of the antenna when this project is completed?


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

The new cell phone tower behind Starbucks in the Midtown Shopping Center is a lot closer than 300 feet to the apartment complex next door. Why so much stick about the cell phone tower in the ball field, but I didn't hear anything about the midtown tower until after it was installed?


1 person likes this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 16, 2014 at 8:51 pm

@resident - homeowners are bigger NIMBYs than renters.


6 people like this
Posted by user
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Oct 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Good maybe now I'll have proper 4G Reception!


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Posted by oh my!
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2014 at 2:26 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 17, 2014 at 7:19 am

Honestly nobody is telling us the real story on effects of cell towers near our homes.

Stanford Graduate Students: can you study this and tell us?

Respectfully


3 people like this
Posted by I was There
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 17, 2014 at 10:16 am

It's important to remember that the ARB's purview is limited to things like color and aesthetics, not whether a cell tower should be allowed. It is no surprise the project was approved, but I would say any of them were excited about it. One board member approved with a comment similar to (paraphrasing) "It's as good as it can get."

I do want to clarify one piece of this article though, because it is extremely important.

"Lippert ultimately voted against the project after his colleagues rejected his suggestion that Verizon make the new pole sky blue, to camouflage it against the sky."

That is very misleading - yes, the others didn't agree to the blue color, but his dissension was not because of the color, it was because of the co-location concerns raised at the meeting. Mr. Lippert was the only one who either understood, or cared, that once a cell tower exists at a given address, the Federal government has decreed that the city cannot block expansion or additional carriers from co-locating there. The expansions are only limited to 20 feet wide and 20 feet taller. Yes, that's FEET.

Residents need to be aware of this aspect before they agree to put the first one in. There are more appropriate places for cell towers and antennas to proliferate - industrial or commercial - than in the middle of an R1 zoned property and parks. We need to look at the future impacts of our actions.

I wish the weekly would cover this critical aspect - it is the biggest and most important piece. I really don't understand why it is consistently left out of the "news" coverage.


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Posted by gsheyner
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

gsheyner is a registered user.

I Was There,

Thanks for bringing up the co-location issue, which was central to Lippert's opposition (I agree, the color issue was comparatively minor). I added it to the story earlier today.

Thanks again,

Gennady


1 person likes this
Posted by I was There
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 17, 2014 at 11:22 am

Gennady,

Thanks you for adding it. I do think this issue deserves more attention though. 1) Most people have already read the article and moved on, so the opportunity was missed. 2) The vast majority of residents have no idea about this 2012 law and what it means. You have an opportunity to do a huge public service by doing a little research and informing the residents about something that will bite them hard down the road. I would provide a link but my post will just be removed.


3 people like this
Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

muttiallen is a registered user.

Finally!! Most of us who live in Adobe Meadow neighborhood have wanted more cell service for years and years. But in true Palo Alto style we have to listen to the few nay-sayers go on and on and on.... I know we'd like 'rule by consensus, but when there isn't any consensus, then please listen to the majority!


2 people like this
Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Johns
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm

People fearful of being in a park with a cell phone antenna tower (which will send out radio waves) should realize that the cell phones they're using right next to their heads or bodies are dosing them with much stronger radio waves. Still, the wattage of cell phone signals is low and I'm not worried about it.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 17, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Can someone tell me whether this is going to be something that improves service for all carriers or just Verizon customers. This area of town is bad for other carriers too.


8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 17, 2014 at 4:52 pm

The vast majority of Palo Alto residents are smart enough to understand that the radiation from these cell phone antennas is much weaker than the radiation coming from the cell phone in their pocket or their home WiFi routers. The real reason the NIMBYs are opposed to this antenna is that it is ugly. That is why the new Midtown antenna (behind Starbucks) was installed with no issues, even though it is less than 100 yards from the apartment building next door. You can only see the Midtown antenna from the parking lot, and the parking lot is already ugly enough that the antenna doesn't make it any more ugly.


Posted by There's Multiple Issues
a resident of Greater Miranda

on Oct 17, 2014 at 5:43 pm


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Posted by Digression
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 17, 2014 at 6:28 pm

We are on AT&T phone service. Oftentimes when my kids call from their iPhones, the reception is so bad that we have to resort to texting! Someone said Verizon has better reception for iPhones. Is this correct, Silicon Valley? Thanks for any feedback.


2 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm

@Digression: AT&T cell service is generally bad, whether it involves iPhones or another platform. While Verizon is one option for better service, any other carrier is a better bet than AT&T.


2 people like this
Posted by Julianne
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Now comes the inevitable lawsuit, as the headline in the Daily Post informs. A couple of sand-in-the-gear groups are suing to stop the project, claiming that it contributes to autism. Couldn't make the case about vaccines, so why not pick on electromagnetic waves?

Palo Alto Little League deserves much better than this. I wonder if it (or Verizon) can counter-sue for court costs and damages?


5 people like this
Posted by Julianne
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm

The autism alarmist group has succeeded in getting an injunction against Verizon at the Little League park. The project was already well under way. I hope that Verizon brings in its heavy hitter lawyers to counter-sue this group, big time.

It is time that we, in Palo Alto, reject these rejectionists. First it was vaccines, where many naïve parents refused to vaccinate their children, thus increasing previously eradicated diseases; now it is a move to shut down all cell towers, with the Little League as a test case.


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Posted by Which Post?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Which Day's Daily Post has the headline (and presumably, article)? It doesn't seem to be today's.


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Posted by Which Post?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2015 at 9:41 pm

I think it's short-sighted of the Little League board to turn their park into a commercial site with extensive equipment and generators and Verizon access easements. Little League has flourished in this town and at this park for 60 years without needing to go commercial, and today's residents are wealthier and have more means than ever before to support a clean Little League experience.

The Palo Alto Little League field belongs to all of Palo Alto, not just the few board members that are making decisions right now, today. As the current stewards of the Ballpark, the board members should be keeping the Little League Park dedicated to the kids for playing the game of baseball.

Putting a cell tower and the large accessory buildings and generators in the middle of it is a disgrace. Palo Alto Little League parents, and the continuing benefactors, have more than enough means to keep this beautiful park in great shape without sticking a tacky cell tower in the middle of it.


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Posted by Which Post?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2015 at 10:16 pm

Hey "Julianne," you seem to know much more than is published. Are you part of Verizon or the Palo Alto Little League? That would explain your inside info and unrelated rhetoric here.

What do vaccines have to do with this issue? Oh yeah, it's the latest point of outrage that will get people upset, so you're using a completely unrelated issue to bolster your public image and distract from the relevant situation.

Hopefully, adults in Palo Alto are smart enough to ignore the name-calling and subterfuge, and learn about the actual issues themselves, even though it seems PAO is not covering this controversy.


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Posted by Julianne
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2015 at 11:34 am

"Hey "Julianne," you seem to know much more than is published. Are you part of Verizon or the Palo Alto Little League? That would explain your inside info and unrelated rhetoric here."

My two sons played LL baseball years ago. I often walk through the Middlefield LL Park, on my way to Mitchell Park. When I see something odd going on, I tend to ask questions. I saw the cell tower project being shut down, so I asked a couple of people why. I have no role with LL or Verizon. I just support our LL against unfair attacks, like your own or the activist groups who spout nonsense about such things as autism and cell towers. My hope is that Verizon will send in their top lawyers to counter-sue.

And yes, I hope that PAO and the Daily Post will investigate.


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Posted by Which Post?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2015 at 12:26 pm

>> I just support our LL against unfair attacks...

How is the LL being attacked? Those kind of statements only serve to mislead readers. The LL is being attacked in any way, shape, or form. Stop trying to make this about kids, instead of commercial business.

It's funny, when the cell tower proposal at St. Albert's church was protested and defeated, I don't recall people claiming that Catholics or the Catholic Church were being attacked. I don't recall any claims that the neighbors were trying to shut down the church.

[Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Julianne
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2015 at 1:12 pm

The Little League gets some much needed funds each month, and the local region gets better cell phone service. It is a win-win. The attempt to use autism as a foil to block that which has already been approved is so sad. I hope those who are attempting this play get the legal pushback they deserve.


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Posted by Which Post?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm

>> The Little League gets some much needed funds...

The LL is having no trouble getting funds the same way it has for the past 60 years. No sooner is this cell tower approved for the poor starving LL, when they announce a capital program and how they're going to spend all the money.

Web Link

[Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Julianne
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Today's Daily Post had a front page article about the issue. This project has already been approved by the City, but a legal injunction was sought by the same groups who opposed in the past (and who didn't get their way). The project is currently blocked. The city council is supposed to review the issue tonight (behind closed doors).

It would be good to see the PAW investigate the case. Importantly, it would good to do areal investigation that reveals the names of the people behind this injunction.


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

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