Search This Blog

Monday, May 7, 2018

Cell Phone Tower - Neighborhood Placement


Sunnyvale resident Helen Liang presented to the Sunnyvale Planning Commission an appeal to a siting of a cell phone tower adjacent to her house.  Her presentation is below (after the "My Take" section).

You may share your thoughts on this with the City Council or Planning Commission, by emailing to:

City Council:

Panning Commission:

A summary with some thoughts of my own:

My Take:

Summary: The Sunnyvale City Council should consider modifying our rules so that cell phone towers are not visibly intrusive and/or ugly and change the financial incentives to keep them away from houses.

Financial Incentives to "Uglification":

The cost to file an application to place a cell phone tower in a neighborhood is over seven times the cost to put a new pole in an out of the way location.  This provides an incentive to a cell phone co. to put their towers in neighborhoods.  If, like some other cities, Sunnyvale required that towers be disguised that could reverse the financial incentive to "uglify" our streets.

From Sunnyvale City staff:

"The Carlisle application is defined as a “Telecommunication Facility: New- MPP, no Public Hearing” in the Fee Schedule, and the fee required (and paid by Verizon) was $475.50. The fee for a “Telecommunication Facility: New- Planning Commission Hearing” would be $3,653.50."

Health Effects:
There is some controversy surrounding the electromagnetic effects on humans of cell phone radiation.  Scientific American reported on a study indicating long term exposure is harmful:

"The findings ... present some of the strongest evidence to date that such exposure is associated with the formation of rare cancers in ... brains and hearts of rats."
"This is by far...the most carefully done cell phone bioassay... for trying to understand cancers in humans,” says Christopher Portier, ... who helped launch the study... “There will have to be a lot of work ... to assess if it causes problems in humans, but the fact that you can do it in rats will be a big issue. It actually has me concerned, and I’m an expert."

Above from:

More here: 

Neighborhood Appearance:

While the 1996 Telecommunications act prohibits local govt. from interfering with cell phone construction on the basis of fears of electromagnetic radiation, govt. can do so on the basis of looks.

As the photos below show, these things can be ugly with a capital "Ugh!"

There are companies dedicated to hiding cell phone towers so they do not visually intrude.  They exist because many local governments require cell phone towers not make their communities ugly and hurt property values.  Here are a few examples - the links have others.

A company dedicated to disguising cell towers:

From NY Times:
"Property values play a big role, too. ... In a case in Hohokus, N.J., he said, a tax assessor determined that the aggregated value of property near a cell phone tower would drop as much as $660,000."

---- end of "My Take" ------------

Ms. Liang's Presentation:

Slide 1 -----------------  presentation begins (lightly edited for readability) ------------

Carlisle Way Antenna Appeal
On behalf of Sunnyvale Neighborhood

Slide 2 --------------
Purpose of Design Review:
Sunnyvale Municipal Code
The purpose of this chapter is to promote the health, safety and general welfare by establishing a site and architectural design review process to improve the design quality of developments; enhance and protect existing neighborhoods; promote economic development; create a strong and positive image for the city; improve property values; and enhance the economic well-being of the city by promoting an orderly, attractive, safe and efficient community.
 3 ------------

Violation 1:
Improve property values

The proposed facility is a violation against the purpose of to improve property values.

a number of organizations and studies have documented the detrimental effects of cell towers on property values.
Peer-reviewed studies find that property values decline by up to 20% near cell towers. See
press coverage: 

4 ------------

Violation 2:
Creating a strong and positive image for the city
•The proposed facility is a violation against the purpose of creating a strong and positive image for the city.
The proposed facility introduced a significant adverse aesthetic impact to the neighborhood and Sunnyvale city image

There are several violations of Sunnyvale Municipal Code and Design Criteria (discussed more in detail later.

5, 6, 7, & 8 --------------

Violation 3:
Promote an orderly, attractive, safe and efficient community

The proposed facility is a violation against the purpose of protecting existing neighborhoods and promoting an orderly, attractive, safe and efficient community.

Influx of construction workers for the installation
Maintenance, repair, routine checks to such facilities brings more personnel, and trucks
Increased traffic is dangerous for children playing and biking nearby
The proposed cell tower puts unnecessary additional fire, flood and earthquake hazards
This wireless facility poses unnecessary risk of falling debris - a serious safety hazard for people on the ground, especially for kids.

10 --------------
Co-location Requirement
Sunnyvale Municipal Code 19.54.140. a)
Wherever technically feasible, wireless telecommunication service providers are encouraged to co-locate telecommunication facilities in order to reduce adverse visual impacts;
Sunnyvale Municipal Code 19.54.140. b)

Facilities which are not proposed to be co-located shall provide a written explanation why the subject facility is not a candidate for co-location.

11 --------------

Our Neighborhood  Clean & Aligned Posts

12 --------------
Santa Rosa

13 --------------

San Jose

14 --------------
Proposed Post

No adequate screening in the vicinity of this location
Significant adverse aesthetic impact 

15 --------------

Co-location Option 1

•In Panama Park, less than 800 feet to the proposed site on Carlisle Way.
•An existing pole for antennas. It is disguised as a tree, so it blends in well with the surroundings

Nowhere near any residential home

16 --------------

Co-location Option 2
•In Panama Park, less than 800 feet to the proposed site on Carlisle Way.
•A pole left from WWII (circled in red) , could be another option to locate the antenna.
•Nowhere near any residential home.

17 --------------
Design Criteria - Telecom Facilities in Public Right of Way
resolution No. 626-13
Pole selection in residential zones should minimize aesthetic impacts through selection of poles adjacent to trees and foliage that provide screening, placement away from primary views, placement on poles between parcel lines or adjacent to driveways and avoiding corner locations that can be viewed from multiple directions

18 --------------

Violation 1:  

5 feet from driveway

Not a secondary driveway for our family, because we use both driveways every day.

19 --------------

Violation 2:  No Screening

•The new facilities will be visible from multiple directions in Carlisle Way and Falcon Ave.

20 --------------

Violation 3:  One House away from T-Intersection

21 --------------

Violation 4: Impact on primary view 
This post is right outside my master bedroom
Significant impact to the primary view from the bedroom window

22 --------------

Violation 4 (cont): Impact on primary view 
This post is directly outside my baby’s bedroom
•Significant impact to the primary view from the bedroom window

23 --------------
Infringe Public Safety: 
•We see children walking and biking under this post every day, because this is a main street that leads to parks and the elementary school
•This is visually very intrusive
•Poses potential hazards:
•Influx of installation and maintenance traffic
•Fire and earthquake hazards

24 --------------
Limits Play Area
Due to the Telecom Act of 1996, we can not argue about health concerns regarding RF radiation, despite the abundance of recent studies that are proving otherwise.
Absence of proof does not equal proof of absence
•We will not let our children play in the back yard due to this installation

24 --------------
Design Criteria - Telecom Facilities in Public Right of Way
(Click image to enlarge)

25 --------------
Thank you for your attention!

What would you recommend if this was next to your home?