The purpose of this site

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We are not against cell towers in general and like everyone else, we would like better wireless coverage in Palos Verdes.  We are against ugly, highly intrusive cell towers planted in the heart of every neighborhood in our community.  We will not tolerate the cheap, quick, and dirty “solutions” the cell tower installers have gotten away with in the past.  No more unsightly tower designs, poor workmanship, or invasive residential locations.   This is our community, we insist they respect it.

An Open Letter to the Wireless Industry (Part 1)

We received a thoughtful inquiry on our contact page from someone within the wireless industry asking as to what these companies could do to foster community acceptance of wireless infrastructure (that is, cell towers).  That email prompted this open letter, which we hope the industry takes to heart.

This will be a two-part post.  At the risk of being perceived as overly negative, we’ll start with the DON’Ts and follow up with the DOs in our second post.   In our experience, the behavior of the wireless industry has been nothing short of shameful and has absolutely poisoned the relationship with residents.  No amount of good deeds will change this dynamic if the behavior listed below continues.

DON’T lie to city staff or residents

Far and away the number one item on the list is to stop saying things that aren’t true.  The level of duplicity we’ve seen from the wireless industry in our community has been a shocking eye opener.  False legal claims, misrepresentation of intentions, brazenly misleading technical statements, and deceptive site documentation appear to be the norm, at least from what we’ve seen in Palos Verdes (link).  You can’t get away with this anymore with informed citizen involvement.  One of the main reasons we put this website online was to share what we’ve learned with those in other communities.  Based on the feedback received, others are finding it helpful.

It may work to sneak through a site or two, but these tactics will be exposed in a big rollout such as Crown Castle’s 60-site cell tower network being pushed in Palos Verdes.  Once exposed, you will lose all credibility and nothing you say will be believed, not even stuff you think is true.  Not only that, you will lose what little public support you may have had at the start and greatly reduce the chances of approval for your project.  People don’t like being misled and City decision makers don’t like having their intelligence insulted.  Accept the fact that your project will never be popular and lying in an attempt to ram it through will make things much, much worse.

DON’T arrogantly demand an entitlement to Right-of-Way access

It’s pretty clear you think your “public utility” facade entitles you to place these wherever you please in the Right-of-Way (ROW).  You preach it with the evangelical zeal of a true believer but just saying it over and over doesn’t make it true.

neptune_cell_tower

Our photoshop of PVE’s famous fountain hosting a cell tower.  It’s in the ROW so they are entitled to do it right?  Actually no.  The right to occupy the ROW in California is limited and subject to city police powers.

Quoting court decision excerpts out of context doesn’t change the central fact that your right to place these sites is limited and cities retain police power to regulate them.  There’s a reason you lose lawsuits (Sprint vs. Palos Verdes Estates, Crown Castle vs. Calabasas, T-Mobile et al vs. San Francisco to name a few here in California).  The Calabasas court flat out said you were making the law up when you tried to overturn that city’s cell tower ordinance:

Petitioners (Ed: Crown Castle) concede that that the City can regulate aesthetics, but that a wholly discretionary CUP (Ed: Conditional Use Permit) blind to the existence of a vested right of access to the right-of-way is unlawful.  Petitioners suggest the ordinance could be lawful only if it provided for a ministerial review of aesthetics “that properly presumes the preexisting right of a telephone corporation to use its streets”.

Petitioners cite no authority for the proposition, and the court is aware of none.

Your legal threats can be intimidating to city staff that usually don’t live in the city and don’t want any chance of a lawsuit on their watch.  But they infuriate residents and City Councils, particularly once they are exposed as arrogant, strong-arm tactics with little actual support in law.  About the only thing worse than a liar is a bully.

DON’T try to sneak in sites behind resident’s backs

cell approved 1

These things started showing up all over town without any notice or explanation, sort of like the pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Across our community you ran underground fiber optic lines up to most of these proposed sites before telling the public about your plans.  You demanded the right to do this despite city objections and warnings that there was no guarantee your antenna sites would be approved.  You thought you could get the network backbone in place before the public realized what was going on.

In Rancho Palos Verdes, you showed up at the first residential neighborhood site and started tearing up the sidewalk and installing the foundation for a brand new streetlight topped with an 18 cubic foot antenna canister.  A 9 cubic foot cabinet was to be attached to the pole reaching twelve feet into the air.  The structure would be nearly 30 feet tall and dominate the view along this quiet underground utility cul-de-sac.  You did this work under the guise of installing a “mock-up” with no advance notice to residents.  Your subcontractor lied to nearby homeowners when asked what they were doing.  Fortunately, our City Council intervened and put a stop to this manipulative nonsense.

Your response to the City’s action was a threatening legal letter demanding the city approve all sites within 30 days.  It further infuriated residents and had the opposite effect of what you intended.

How could you possibly think this was an effective method to get your project in place?  Did you think RPV residents were that stupid that they wouldn’t notice these ugly eyesores sprouting like mushrooms on their quiet residential streets?  Your plans were exposed and your deployment ground to a halt before the very first site was in place.  The fact that you thought this would work shows us exactly how much respect you have for our community.

DON’T pit neighbor against neighbor

You offered to “work” with residents in Palos Verdes Estates who objected to having a cell tower plopped in front of their homes.  Residents, without specialized legal or technical knowledge, accepted your offer in good faith.  Your “solution” was to move the cell tower next to another neighbor’s home who wasn’t present at the meeting.  The entirely predictable result had longtime neighbors squabbling with each other, increased tension, and a loss of camaraderie on this residential street.

Residents were surprised by this turn of events but somehow we doubt you were.  The industry would much rather have neighbors fighting with each other rather than united in opposition to your self-proclaimed right to invade their quiet residential street.  Thank goodness the Planning Commission ended this charade by denying the site as incompatible with the neighborhood.

These tactics undermined our community’s trust and we don’t think you’ll get it back anytime soon.

DON’T propose cell towers in residential neighborhoods

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The new normal according to those who make money installing cell towers

Virtually every tactic discussed above stems from the fact you plan to muscle in these cell towers right next to our homes.  We get it; it’s cheap and easy for you.  You think the 5G future is going to normalize these eyesores on our streets, sort of like fire hydrants. No different than the 21st century equivalent of the corner mailbox, you might say.

We view them differently.  These are cash cows for you; they provide a steady stream of revenue and the cheaper you can throw them up the more money you will make.  Residents receive no financial compensation despite the fact these sites are a terrible nuisance.  Your shoddy designs are ugly and prominent with no screening whatsoever.  Your equipment contains large and noisy cooling fans that run 24/7 despite the fact most PV neighborhoods are extremely quiet.  Most important, these sites kill property values.  Would you buy a home with an obvious and highly intrusive commercial telecommunication facility a few dozen feet from the front door?  Yet residents are supposed to suck it up and accept the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in what is likely their biggest investment.  Of course these unfortunate homeowners don’t receive a dime in compensation from you.

We understand it will cause you more work to perform the honest, old-fashioned engineering needed to locate these sites away from homes.  Guess what?  We don’t care, that is your problem not ours.  No one asked you to come here; you showed up and demanded access to our Right of Way.  In public hearings we have repeatedly demonstrated that you ignored less intrusive locations that would provide suitable coverage as they were inconvenient or cost you more money.  You aren’t entitled to place these eyesores wherever you like and you aren’t entitled to perfect coverage.  If you expect to place these in our community then we expect you to do your job and design minimally intrusive sites located away from homes.

DON’T make up technical claims

You’ve probably gotten away with this for a long time as most cities don’t have the expertise to challenge your claims.  That’s one of the reasons we put this site online, we do have the experience and we wanted to document what we’ve found.  It hasn’t been pretty as we’ve shown arbitrarily changed service metrics, omitted existing sites from coverage maps, cherry-picked frequency bands, and submitted data that appears to be grossly in error.

Many of your poorly-maintained existing cell towers haven’t been upgraded to operate on available frequency bands, then you disingenuously point to this absence as justification for new sites!  Your attempts to hand-wave away these discrepancies come off as self-serving and technically shallow, and undermine any claim that you actually know what you’re talking about.  Frankly, it looks like amateur hour to those of us who are professional engineers and are accustomed to a disciplined engineering environment.

Android App

One of many great apps that easily checks claims regarding existing coverage.  It displays the info your Android phone collects and uses in making network cell connection decisions. Cost: $2.  Root the phone for even more info.

The days of needing a $50K spectrum analyzer and a highly compensated “expert” to check your claims are over.  An Android phone with a $2 app allows a tech-savvy resident access to important network parameters and the ability to document cell IDs, active frequency bands, RSRP, and RSRQ of existing coverage.  If the phone is rooted, even more info is available with other apps.  The advent of highly capable software-defined radios enables 90% of that $50K spectrum analyzer’s capability for only a few hundred dollar investment.  Checking your claims is now within the bounds of sharp residents with a technical background.  If you lie about this stuff, there is a pretty good chance it’s going to be exposed.

As to “independent experts” hired to assist cities, you better being doing this stuff yourselves as it’s your job to find these discrepancies, not that of the residents.

DON’T claim your motivation is anything other than to make you money

It’s insulting and ultimately hurts your cause when you make claims that you are motivated to “serve the community”, “improve emergency communications” or “upgrade critical infrastructure”.  Residents know you wouldn’t be giving our community a second thought except for the fact you plan on making a pile of money here.  No one believes you are motivated by any sense of public service; claiming to be so undermines your credibility.

Acknowledge that your presence in our community is first and foremost a business opportunity, nothing more, nothing less.   That business opportunity can be mutually beneficial for both you and the city’s residents if implemented in a thoughtful and coordinated manner.  To date we’ve seen nothing of the sort.

 

Along these lines, part 2 of this post will deal with the DO’s of how to implement such a deployment in a thoughtful and coordinated manner.  Unsurprisingly, it consists of early resident involvement (not just paid staff who don’t live in the city), a clear description of the goals and objectives, aesthetically-pleasing and screened tower designs, and a concerted and diligent engineering effort to locate sites away from homes and outside of neighborhoods.  In other words, common sense city planning.  We should have part 2 up soon.

 

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SB 649 Threatens Cities Rights to Regulate Cell Towers

California Senate Bill 649 is being heard this week in Sacramento.  Please contact your state representatives and make clear your opposition to this terrible bill.

Things have been relatively quiet in Palos Verdes for the past two months as Crown Castle rethinks some of the highly intrusive cell towers they had intended to plop right next to homes.  The sites as proposed were ugly eyesores; virtually guaranteed to detract from neighborhood aesthetics and negatively affect the home values of the nearby residents.

Fortunately, decision makers in both Rancho Palos Verdes and Palos Verdes Estates decided to aggressively assert the city’s right to regulate these sites as allowed under both state and federal law.  Unsurprisingly, the wireless industry doesn’t like this.  They want quick and dirty cookie-cutter sites they can throw up as cheaply as possible.

Cell towers are a multi-billion dollar business and the industry is heavily lobbying Sacramento and Washington to strip municipalities of their right to regulate these sites.  The latest attempt in California is Senate Bill (SB) 649, being heard this week at the state capitol.  SB 649 will override municipal authority to apply common sense local planning review to cell towers.

hall of shame7

An existing dreadful cell tower on a Monero Drive cul-de-sac in RPV, it is only 30 feet from the residence.  This site never should have been approved but it was put in place prior to RPV’s comprehensive wireless facility ordinance.  SB 649 derails the City’s authority to prevent ugly cell towers like this from multiplying throughout the residential neighborhoods.

We need your help to let Sacramento know this unacceptable.  They tried this last year when Assemblyman Mike Gatto attempted to push through a bill stripping cities of the right to regulate ugly and intrusive cell towers.  That bill died in committee after an outcry from concerned residents and the municipalities themselves.  We’ve shown before that the wireless industry can be stopped.

Sacramento needs to again hear from concerned residents.  Also, please urge your city government to contact our local state senators and legislators and voice opposition to SB 649.  In Palos Verdes, our state representatives are:

  • Assembly: Al Muratsuchi, 66th Assembly District, (310) 375-0691   contact (link)
  • State Senate: Ben Allen, 26th Senate District, (310) 318-6994   contact (link)

If you are outside of Palos Verdes, you can find your state representatives here (link).

Giving the Wireless Industry Free Reign in our Cities is a Terrible Idea

We’ve documented the really ugly and highly intrusive cell towers installed before Rancho Palos Verdes implemented its comprehensive wireless facility ordinance (link).  This is what cities can expect with the wireless companies calling the shots.  It isn’t pretty.  Now imagine one of these eyesores in front of your house.

We’ve documented how Crown Castle misrepresented the size and intrusiveness of RPV’s proposed cell towers using misleading photo simulations (link).

We’ve documented how Crown Castle misrepresented the applicable law in wireless facility applications in both RPV and PVE (link).  We also documented how Mobilitie was playing the same games and was formally taken to the woodshed by the state of Minnesota (link).

We’ve documented the misleading technical claims made by the wireless industry to fool municipalities into thinking they can’t deny a proposed cell tower (link).  We’ve also shown how they’ve changed their story when confronted on these claims.

We’ve shown how Crown Castle and the wireless industry used lawsuits and legal threats to intimidate cities.   We documented how they went for broke in 2016’s T-Mobile et al vs. San Francisco and suffered a historic loss before the California Court of Appeals (link).  The court made clear cities maintain the right to regulate these sites despite the wireless industry’s attempts to twist the clear language of state law.

Don’t Let them Change the Law and Handcuff Cities

Now the wireless industry is trying to change state law despite the fact they’ve shown over and over they can’t be trusted to deal openly and fairly with cities.  It’s a terrible idea but it has huge amounts of money behind it.  Our representatives need to hear from the people, please contact Sacramento today and voice your opposition to SB 649.

 

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Palos Verdes Estates Affirms Neighborhood Church Cell Tower Denial

Great news, the PVE City Council unanimously affirmed the Planning Commission’s denial of this highly intrusive site at their Jan 24th meeting.  One Councilman summed it up well when he commented how this site seemed to be a test case of the City’s authority; if the City accepted a cell tower in front of this historic church then seemingly nowhere in the city would be off limits.  (For more on the Neighborhood Church check out this post here.)

neighborhood_church_cell_tower_mock-up

Proposed cell tower mock-up on the grounds in front of Palos Verdes Estates’ historic Neighborhood Church

A resident (who will remain nameless) wryly suggested that in addition to the Neighborhood Church Crown Castle might next propose replacement of Neptune’s trident with one of their cell towers.  This famous fountain in Malaga Cove Center is another local icon so it’s apparently fair game too.  Believe it or not, the fountain is actually located in the Public Right of Way according to the L.A. County Assessor’s Office, so we figured we’d help out with the required photo simulation just in case it’s being considered.

neptune_cell_tower

An omen of things to come?  The 5G future we must all enthusiastically embrace according to those who plan on making a lot of money installing cell towers.

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Crown Castle Appeals Neighborhood Church Cell Tower Denial

You would think that a corporation demanding to place nearly two dozen cell towers in a community might do some research regarding local sensitivities.  Apparently, that’s not considered “value added” activity by Crown Castle.

As we’ve discussed at length, this arrogant, out-of-state corporation decided they were going to place highly intrusive cell towers within our neighborhoods whether we liked it or not.  No one asked them to come here.  They’ve trotted out every trick in the book to bully our community into accepting these cell towers, including false legal claims, misleading site documentation, and highly deceptive engineering analysis. We’ve meticulously documented this garbage and posted on some of it here.

Based on the hard work of many Peninsula residents in exposing these tactics, the Palos Verdes Estates Planning Commission has started to say “no” to Crown Castle’s highly intrusive cell towers.  The first cell tower denial occurred in October after eleven straight cell towers had been approved by the Commission. .It’s not like the City hasn’t given Crown Castle a fair shake.

Denial and Appeal of the Neighborhood Church Cell Tower

This proposed cell tower was just too much.  Crown Castle insisted the cell tower and its large equipment cabinet must be placed directly in front of an iconic local landmark, the Neighborhood Church in Malaga Cove.  Supposedly, no alternate locations preferred by the City were acceptable; Crown Castle simply dismissed them all as “infeasible” without providing a shred of objective evidence.

The Commissioners rightly told Crown Castle they needed to look elsewhere, particularly in light of the flimsy and contradictory evidence Crown Castle submitted to justify the site.  The Commission voted unanimously to deny the cell tower at the October 2016 Planning Commission hearing.

neighborhood_church_cell_tower_location

The Neighborhood Church located on the scenic bluffs of Malaga Cove.  Note beautifully maintained landscaping and absence of power lines or above ground utilities.  Proposed cell tower location is directly in front of the church grounds, plainly visible, and completely unscreened.

neighborhood_church_cell_tower_mock-up

Mock-up of the proposed cell tower and associated equipment cabinet in front of the Neighborhood Church.  Note that the cabinet is missing the required electric meter so the actual installation will be even larger than shown.  Also note the total absence of screening and prominent placement in the scenic landscaping.

Crown Castle’s sense of entitlement apparently knows no bounds.  Rather than accept the will of the community and seek an alternative, Crown Castle is appealing the cell tower denial to the City Council.  The hearing is scheduled for January 24th, and we will provide more details once available.

In a likely attempt to intimidate our community, the appeal was filed by outside legal counsel rather than the familiar Crown Castle employees involved in the deployment to date.  It seems that resistance will not be tolerated.

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Crown Castle’s Coverage Map Games

This post gets into technical details regarding existing AT&T coverage in Rancho Palos Verdes.  In it we show that a recently submitted Crown Castle coverage map has a 30 dB discrepancy (that’s off by 1000 times as decibels are logarithmic) that misleadingly depicts existing coverage being much worse than it actually is.  This continues a very troubling pattern in Crown Castle’s submissions.  We’ve tried to make the technical aspects readable to the layman and put the legal implications in context.

 The Importance of Propagation Maps

Rancho Palos Verdes’ comprehensive wireless facility ordinance requires applicants provide propagation maps depicting existing, proposed, and combined/existing proposed wireless service.  Propagation maps are sophisticated computer simulations that depict signal levels and cell tower coverage over a wide geographic area.  They are an industry-standard tool used to assess wireless service coverage.

att_palos_verdes_propagation_map

AT&T propagation map example, submitted to the City of Palos Verdes Estates in October 2015.  Note continuous coverage levels shown over a wide area.  (As an aside, this map was found to have significant errors as it omitted coverage from numerous existing cell towers.  This has been a common and continuing problem with Crown Castle submissions.)

Cities require propagation maps for good reason.  Proposed cell towers are often highly intrusive as the industry wants cheap sites, usually resulting in “cookie cutter” designs in highly prominent locations.  Fortunately, states allow municipal regulation of cell towers, including those in the public right of way.  In our state this power derives from the California Constitution which reserves for municipalities vested police powers to regulate these sites (see this post regarding  T-Mobile et al vs San Francisco, 2016).

Often highly intrusive cell towers are proposed for speculative reasons or to give a wireless carrier a competitive advantage.  Based on all we’ve documented that certainly seems to be the case for much of Crown Castle’s Palos Verdes deployment.  Cities are under no obligation to approve such sites.  Under federal law, municipalities may deny a cell tower if it is not required to close a “significant gap” in service OR if the cell tower proposed (i.e. design/location) is not the “least intrusive means” of doing so.  Cities protect themselves by requiring propagation maps proving the site is truly needed.

The cell towers installers don’t want municipalities challenging their proposed cell towers.  Any challenge can result in delays, increased costs, and could ultimately result in denial of the proposed cell site.  They like the good old days, such as back when Rancho Palos Verdes used to rubber-stamp these cell towers.  Our post on the proliferation of ugly towers in RPV (here) shows what happens without a strongly enforced ordinance.  The propagation map requirement was one of many long-needed reforms implemented to get this problem under control.

Coverage map games

Enter the coverage map games.  If the cell tower installers can create the impression that a significant gap exists (i.e. existing coverage is terrible) then cities will likely think they have no choice but to approve the site.  RF Engineering expertise isn’t commonplace, and few cities have the experience to challenge such claims so they usually go unquestioned.  Fortunately, we have both the experience and the required test equipment to scrutinize what we’re being told.  We documented multiple Crown Castle coverage map discrepancies in an earlier post here, and in every case the errors we found understated the actual existing coverage.  As we’ve seen over and over, Crown Castle’s “errors” almost always seem to be in their favor.  It certainly doesn’t seem random.

It looks like Crown Castle’s string of “lucky” errors continues, as their recent submittals have brought us a new gem. This is for site ASG53, proposed for the corner or Granvia Altimira and Monero right next to the Palos Verdes Estates city line.  We’ve seen this site before and it’s always been questionable as it’s only 800 feet away from an existing AT&T “macro” high power cell tower.  Here’s the existing coverage map they submitted.

crown_castle_asg53_alleged_significant_gap

Crown Castle coverage map submitted to Rancho Palos Verdes depicting an alleged “significant gap” in coverage.  Map is a public record.  Note it looks nothing like the Palos Verdes Estates propagation map shown above.

Right off the bat, it’s got lots of problems:

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Sixteen New Verizon Cell Towers in RPV

It seems that Crown Castle has big plans for our community whether we like it or not.  We’ve discussed in detail the nearly 80 AT&T cell towers Crown Castle is trying to muscle into Palos Verdes neighborhoods.  We’ve now found out they are planning at least 16 new Verizon cell towers in Rancho Palos Verdes (that we know of so far).  As with their highly intrusive AT&T deployment, many are again proposed for residential neighborhoods without regard for community aesthetics or property values.  It looks like we are going to be busy going forward.

A Surprise in the AT&T Resubmissions

Crown Castle has started resubmitting the 26 AT&T cell tower applications that were rejected as incomplete earlier this year.  So far six have been resubmitted, and all six have again been rejected as incomplete since the submitted documentation does not meet the requirements of Rancho Palos Verdes’ comprehensive wireless facility ordinance.  We requested and received copies of the documents for review (they are public records).

RPV’s ordinance wisely requires applicants submit a master plan including all proposed sites for the next two years.  Buried within the documentation was a table that surprisingly also included 16 new cell towers for Verizon.  As far as we know, these have never been publicly announced.  It would appear the city has not been formally notified of these as they are not shown on RPV’s extremely comprehensive cell tower webpage.

In typical Crown Castle fashion, the list didn’t include addresses but only GPS coordinates.  We’ve gotten wise to their tricks and know when they obfuscate like this it’s probably not by accident.  It was simple to plug the coordinates into Google maps and figure out what they are up to.  Yet again, Crown Castle didn’t fail to disappoint.  Here’s the result. (Crown Castle’s full list of proposed sites can be found here)

crown-castle-verizon-cell-tower-map

Crown Castle’s proposed Verizon cell towers plotted out.  Despite the site labels, all sites are in Rancho Palos Verdes.  Note that six sites (PV01, PV02, PV04, PV05, PV06, PV07) are missing from the sequential list.  These are likely in Palos Verdes Estates or Rolling Hills Estates and were omitted from this list submitted to Rancho Palos Verdes.

Thirteen Residential Neighborhood Sites

Of the 16 sites, thirteen are located in the heart of residential neighborhoods.  Many of these are also in underground utility districts.  Here’s a few of the offenders:

Verizon Cell Tower PV 03 Location – 30100 block Via Rivera (West Palos Verdes)

verizon-pv03-cell-tower-location

This is an underground utility district and they appear to have targeted this streetlight based on the GPS coordinates.  It’s right in front of a home with houses directly across the street.  There’s an existing Crown Castle cell tower on a streetlight just 300 feet away.  They’ve also submitted an application for an AT&T cell tower for a streetlight just 9 houses down the street.  Talk about chutzpah!

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Crown Castle’s End Game

The Palos Verdes Estates Planning Commission denied another residential neighborhood cell tower at the November 15th Planning Commission hearing.  This is the second residential neighborhood site the PC has denied, both on unanimous votes.  We could not be prouder of the Commission.

Unlike the city’s advisors, the Commissioners live in our community and will be stuck with these highly intrusive cell towers.  Critically, they no longer believe claims that they must accept these sites.

crown-castle-residential-cell-tower

A tranquil residential neighborhood in Palos Verdes Estates (Chelsea and Yarmouth).  The perfect place to put an intrusive cell tower and equipment cabinet according to Crown Castle.  Fortunately, the Planning Commission said no.  Note there is an existing AT&T macro site only 1400 feet away at Lunada Bay Plaza.

It was a long time in coming, some context is warranted.

What Crown Castle is up to

Crown Castle is attempting to place intrusive cell towers in the heart of every neighborhood in Palos Verdes, nearly 80 sites in all.  Despite all their lofty claims of serving the public, their motivation is economic profit.  As we documented here, their sponsoring wireless carrier (AT&T Mobility) wants to sell very expensive wireless data plans in our community.  To do that, they need more extensive infrastructure.  Crown Castle’s role is to browbeat our community into accepting the cheapest possible deployment that gives AT&T a competitive advantage.

palos-verdes-crown-castle-80-cell-towers

Crown Castle’s plan to put 80 cell towers across the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  Most are located within residential neighborhoods.  Note the close proximity, some sites are only 500 feet apart.

Why Palos Verdes?  To quote Willie Sutton when asked why he robbed banks, “because that’s where the money is”.  Crown Castle isn’t placing these in every neighborhood in Carson, Wilmington, Gardena, or other less affluent communities.  Make no mistake, we’ve been targeted and selected.  AT&T Mobility has staked out Palos Verdes as their turf, Crown Castle is the hired muscle, and we are supposed to roll over and welcome these highly intrusive installations into our neighborhoods. This is the 5G future they insist, there is no stopping it, and we have no choice but to accept it.

No one bothered to ask residents what they thought about all this.  They sorely misjudged our understanding of the law, our technical knowledge, and our resolve.  Not to mention we don’t give a damn about Crown Castle’s profitability, promises they’ve made to AT&T, or their highly questionable business model.  We care about our community.

Crown Castle has trotted out every trick in the book to convince Palos Verdes cities that they had no choice but to approve these sites.  Fortunately Crown Castle’s playbook is superficial, once you understand the game plan it’s much easier to fight them.  It’s doesn’t help their cause that virtually every one of their experts and subcontractors looks to be the lowest bidder who seem to have a really hard time keeping their stories straight.  Their book of tricks is a mile wide but only an inch deep.  Once the spell is broken, the illusion of inevitability falls apart.

Palos Verdes Estates now gets this.  Crown Castle’s plan was to carve the Peninsula up into a big grid and plop highly intrusive cell towers into the middle of each square without regard for neighborhood aesthetics or adjacent home values.  They had City staff buffaloed into believing they couldn’t be stopped. The City’s advisor had a long list of things the city supposedly wasn’t allowed to do but was conspicuously quiet regarding Crown Castle’s behavior.  It was strongly implied the city couldn’t deny sites but could only require adjustments to their appearance.

The entire premise of “significant gap” was to be preemptively surrendered despite the fact it protects the city and its residents  (i.e. “significant gap” means a city can deny a cell tower if it is not required to close a significant gap in service.)  If Crown Castle claimed they didn’t have good enough coverage then that was it, they were entitled to a new cell tower.  There would be no challenge of significant gap, end of story.  Or so we were told.  As we’ve now made plainly clear, that isn’t what the law says.

Thank God the Commissioners live in our community and were willing to listen to us rather than following the word of outside advisors.

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