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TAKE ACTION! Call or send email to contacts for City of Palo Alto, Roman Catholic Welfare Corp. of San Jose, NSA Wireless, AT&T.

4/27/2011 Confirmation received from the City that the application has been dropped. We encourage AT&T to try to find lawful means of improving service to the neighborhood.

4/18/2011 Application to be dropped. Reporting does not mention significant objection that tower proposal violated city zoning ordinances. Waiting for confirmation from the city.

3/22/2011 Kristin Parineh sends a notice that the City is about to issue a preliminary decision on the CUP and has scheduled an ARB meeting for April 7th, 2011. Our response is here.

The Palo Alto Weekly agrees that Palo Alto should adopt a more rigorous process for cell towers.

AT&T apparently has a new plan to deploy 80 antennas around the City of Palo Alto, and a meeting was held on March 8th where only a fraction of the residents affected by the overall plan were notified. Read about it here - Palo Altans continue to butt heads with AT&T over project proposals - and here - AT&T gets more resistance to new antennas from Palo Alto - and here - AT&T plan gets stormy reception.

Read about the AT&T community meeting on January 11, 2011 where AT&T "failed to connect," and tell AT&T, "No tower!"

Complain to AT&T and get a free microcell - no tower required. No need to inflict your neighbors with your choice of carrier.

Read about AT&T's network, and how improvements have been deferred despite years of increasing profits. Why bother to upgrade now? Could it be the Verizon iPhone announced on January 11, 2011?
New 3/14/2011: AT&T plans to implement caps on its broadband service, how AT&T totally flubbed 4G.

Read the Palo Alto Weekly stories, published 12/17/2010:
Read/watch for yourself:
  • Read in Tim Wu's THE MASTER SWITCH about how the Telecommunications Act of 1996 enabled the rebirth of AT&T as a “monopoly without a soul.” Read about how AT&T owns the FCC.
  • Read in Devra Davis' National Book Award Finalist DISCONNECT about the “don't ask, don't tell” approach of the cell phone industry to real science, leading to an “immense disconnect between common opinions about cell phone safety and the actual data.”
  • Watch Full Signal, a movie about cell phone technology, its impact, and its proliferation. “There is growing evidence that cellular technology is harmful to us. This has not been proven, but by the time it could be proven, it could be too late to do something about. So now is the time to err on the side of caution.”
Say no to the proposed cell tower at 1095 Channing Avenue!
Why are we against a cell tower at 1095 Channing Avenue? A telecommunications business is inappropriate for a residential neighborhood, and we want the City of Palo Alto to deny AT&T's permit application. Show Silicon Valley technology leadership through responsible, planned development of wireless communication facilities.
  • PROVE THAT THIS TOWER IS NECESSARY The City can require that the wireless carrier prove that a significant gap in coverage exists, and that engineering of existing facilities cannot be modified to address the gap. Common re-engineering techniques include changing tilt of antennas, changing their azimuth (angular orientation), or installing amplifiers to boost the return signal from phones. Technological advances have made it possible to reduce the separation of antennas on a tower, allowing an existing tower to utilize more spectrum. Wireless carriers don't like to re-engineer their existing facilities because it's "too expensive" to actually drive around and study the coverage area, and it's easier to just build new towers. The Town of Duxbury, VT, has written into their wireless ordinance that, "Pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 4407, the Selectboard is authorized to hire qualified persons to conduct an independent technical review of applications and to require the applicant to pay for all reasonable costs thereof. Additional costs, at the applicant's expense, may include the Selectboard hiring a facilitator to assist the Selectboard in coordinating all the information necessary for review of the application," reflecting the need to have experts hold the wireless companies accountable for their claims: The City of Modesto, CA, also wrote their wireless ordinance to incorporate the expertise of independent consultants: So did the Town of Olive, NY: City of Palo Alto should require AT&T to prove that this tower is necessary to an independent expert; there are 13 existing towers in commercially-zones districts within 1 mile of the proposed tower - 6 are registered to companies acquired by AT&T, and there are 7 others on which AT&T could co-locate.
  • ENFORCE THE EXISTING ORDINANCE The City of Palo Alto's existing wireless communications facilities ordinance requires the removal of abandoned equipment: "Wireless communication facilities, or any components of a facility, that are no longer in use shall be removed by the applicant, service provider, or property owner within three months of the termination of use. No new permit shall be issued to a carrier if that carrier has not removed abandoned equipment." The intent of this clause is to prevent wireless communications facilities from becoming storehouses for obsolete equipment, preventing new equipment from being installed on existing tower locations. The Planning Department currently believes that Code Enforcement handles this, while Code Enforcement thinks that the Planning Department enforces it. The City of Palo Alto should enforce this provision of the ordinance, and require AT&T to prove that they have no abandoned equipment in any of their nine towers in Palo Alto before any new permit can be issued.
  • DEVELOP A WIRELESS PLAN The City of Palo Alto has a very weak zoning ordinance for wireless communications facilities. The City's Comprehensive Plan makes no mention of wireless communication facilities whatsoever. Compare the City of Palo Alto wireless communications facilities ordinance 18.42.110 with the City of Glendale Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Permits. The Glendale ordinance extensively incorporates a city's right to require that a new tower be proven necessary (see "Findings of Fact"), where the Palo Alto ordinance does not. The City of Richmond’s permit application process requires an applicant to, "Identify and indicate on a map, at a minimum, two (2) viable technically and economically feasible or superior alternative locations outside the disfavored areas which could eliminate or substantially reduce the need to locate in a restricted area. Richmond, CA’s new wireless Ordinance No. 09-10 N.S. was unanimously approved by its Mayor and City Council on February 16, 2010. It can be found on-line on the City’s website at: North Merrick, NY, has just rewritten their code to make it illegal to place a cell tower closer than 1500 feet from a residence: happens when another wireless carrier wants to co-locate on the proposed tower at 1095 Channing Avenue? Does it get taller? Does it hum louder? Do competing wireless carriers double the amount of maintenance happening at 2 AM? The City of Palo Alto should not cede municipal planning of wireless communications facilities to the tower companies and the carriers; develop a plan to keep this commercial activity on existing towers in commercially-zoned districts, and at minimum 1500 feet away from schools, churches, parks, hospitals, and libraries, using the professional help of experts in the wireless industry to fully protect ourselves using all the means made available to us in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The proposed tower at 1095 Channing Avenue should be denied for the following additional reasons:
  • VISUAL NUISANCE and PRIVACY CONCERNS The proposed cell tower is 50 feet tall, twelve feet higher than surrounding structures. Anyone working on the tower would have an unobstructed view down into children's bedrooms across the street.
  • NOISE POLLUTION Noise levels of cellular tower hum and onsite maintenance have been cited repeatedly as reasons to keep cell towers out of residential neighborhoods. See what it's like to live next to a cell phone antenna Hear the noise of Clearwire's wireless communication facilities and go here to watch and hear the loud "refrigerator box" cell tower in action with this local KUTU-TV news report:
    Wireless carriers require access for maintenance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and maintenance (often done at night) brings trucks with lifts, radios, and lights, and from a tower noise and light can propagate in all directions and affect many neighbors. Current noise ordinances do not adequately protect neighbors that can currently sleep comfortably with open windows on a summer night. This commercial activity is not appropriate in a residential neighborhood directly across the street from children's bedrooms.