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Letter to the City, 3/22/2011

Date:    Tue, 23 Mar 2011
To:      "Parineh, Kristin" <Kristin.Parineh@CityofPaloAlto.org>
Subject: Re: Update on 1095 Channing WCF

> You are receiving this email because you submitted written comments
> regarding the proposed 50 foot tall tower to house a telecommunications
> facility (nine panel wireless antennas and associated equipment) on the
> St. Albert the Great Church property at 1095 Channing.=20

I'm very concerned to hear that a variance application is being
considered for a tower that should not be allowed in the first
place. My objection to the original proposal extends to the
application for a variance.

I'm doubly concerned about your remark regarding the ARB hearing being
limited to discussion of the design of the tower. First, the tower
should not be allowed in the first place, and some of the reasons for
that are the responsibility of Architectural Review to enforce.
Specifically, zoning code 18.76.020 states that the purpose
of architectural review is to:

(2)     Enhance the desirability of residence or investment
        in the city;
(3)     Encourage the attainment of the most desirable use
        of land and improvements;
(4)     Enhance the desirability of living conditions upon
        the immediate site or in adjacent areas; and

Are you saying that ARB plans not to fulfill its duties set forth in
18.76.020?

The detailed reasons why the City is required to deny the application
because of 18.76.020 are included in a letter to the church sent last
Friday, which was cc'd to you. That letter also includes an
explanation of why 18.20.030 and 18.76.010 require you to deny the CUP
application as well. I have included it below in case you missed it:


Date:    Fri, 18 Mar 2011
To:      mstanley@dsj.org
cc:      kristin.parineh@cityofpaloalto.org
Subject: opposition to cell tower proposal at 1095 Channing Ave.

Father Matt,

We are neighbors of the church at 1095 Channing. We understand that
you are collecting information regarding the your cell tower proposal
there.


The legal argument against your proposal, broken down by the relevant
sections of the City's zoning ordinances, is as follows:


18.42.110 (Wireless Communications Facilities) says in 18.42.110(b)
that a conditional use permit and architectural review are required.


18.12.030 (Land Uses) says: "The permitted and conditionally permitted
uses for the single family residential districts are shown in Table
1," and Table 1 says "Utility Facilities essential to provision of
utility services to the neighborhood" requires a conditional use
permit.

Wireless facilities are not essential utility services to the
neighborhood, and are therefore not a permitted use. Placement of such
facilities is not required to be in the neighborhood in order to serve
the neighborhood. For example, such facilities could be located in
adjacent commercial or other non-residential districts and serve the
neighborhood. The intent of the permission of utility facilities was
for utilities delivered physically to residences: electricity, water,
gas, sewer, wireline-based communications.


18.76.010 (Conditional Use Permit) says in 18.76.010(b) that they
can't grant a permit unless it is found to be:
(1) Not be detrimental or injurious to property or improvements in
the vicinity, and will not be detrimental to the public health,
safety, general welfare, or convenience;
(2) Be located and conducted in a manner in accord with the Palo Alto
Comprehensive Plan and the purposes of this title (Zoning).

The proposed facility is injurious to property and improvements
through the decrease in property values (Palo Alto real estate
professionals signed a petition against the proposed tower), it will
be detrimental to general welfare due to demands of 24x7 maintenance,
portable generators, and hazardous materials. The property is listed
in Appendix F of the Comprehensive Plan as a site to be considered for
future residential development.


18.76.020 (Architectural Review) says in 18.76.020(a) that the purpose
of review is to:
(1)     Promote orderly and harmonious development in the city;
(2)     Enhance the desirability of residence or investment
        in the city;
(3)     Encourage the attainment of the most desirable use
        of land and improvements;
(4)     Enhance the desirability of living conditions upon
        the immediate site or in adjacent areas; and
(5)     Promote visual environments which are of high
        aesthetic quality and variety and which, at the same time,
        are considerate of each other.

This is clearly not the most desirable use of the property, and
Appendix F documents the desire to use the site for future residential
expansion. A cell tower does not enhance the desirability of residence
or investment, or of living conditions upon the immediate site -
diminished property values (as noted above), cell tower hum, hazardous
materials stored on-site both permanently (batteries) and temporarily
(fuel in portable generators, risk from fuel transfer during refueling
of generators), nuisance of 24x7 maintenance. It discourages
investment, supported by the woman who spoke at the AT&T PR event at
the church and said she would not have bought her house on Lincoln if
she had known that the church could apply to put a cell tower on their
property. This is also where the bulk of a tower, and the factor of a
second tower on the site, run afoul of the 24' special setback on
Channing Avenue which was put in place promote an open boulevard-like
space.


I think that for these reasons the City is required to deny this
permit. If the argument is presented that TCA of 1996 only allows them
to deny a permit based on aesthetics, that's not true. Cities can deny
facilities for any grounds except for on the basis of environmental
effects if the facility complies with emissions regulations. This
proposal must be rejected because the Municipal Code says it must be
rejected, and there is case law that supports this conclusion.


As you are no doubt aware, health-related issues can't be presented to
the City in an objection - not because cell towers have been proven
safe, but because the telecommunications industry bought legislation
that prevents people from expressing those concerns. Some simple
searches on the Internet should find you plenty of current concerns
regarding cell phone use by children, science that shows that cellular
radiation affects the blood-brain barrier, etc. In the matter of
children entrusted you your care, the church should be adopting a
philosophy of "abundance of caution" rather than "rush to irradiate."
Especially as there are already 13 cell towers within one mile of your
proposed cell tower, and the experts that we have consulted say that
with that density there is no reason that AT&T can't use those
existing facilities to improve their service.


Please be a good neighbor and withdraw the application.


Regards,

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