The Saga of Miraleste Hills

Crown Castle recently put in a cell tower within the Miraleste Hills residential neighborhood of Rancho Palos Verdes.  Unfortunately, the site was approved prior to the tough wireless facility ordinance passed back in January, so it wasn’t held to RPV’s new stringent design and location requirements.  It is however, a shining example of what we’ve come to expect regarding tactics and workmanship.

Let’s start with the photo simulation Crown Castle submitted and posted at the location in lieu of an actual physical mock-up.  (Note – real mock-ups are required under the new ordinance.)  This was at the corner of Crownview and Highpoint in RPV back in August-September 2015.

Miraleste Hills 1


Here’s a reproduction of the photo simulation that was obtained from the drawing package submitted to RPV.  Note the poor resolution, you would think a multi-billion dollar corporation could afford something better.  The Kodak Brownie I had as a kid took better pictures than this.

Miraleste Hills 2

As to the design itself, it’s not great, but it’s not as awful as some in RPV.  Residents didn’t have an actual physical mock-up to review and the picture didn’t look terrible, so no one formally objected during the 30 day comment window.  That’s not too surprising, people are busy and they believed what they saw in the picture.  They were in for a rude surprise.

On October 12, 2015, Crown Castle’s crack installation team showed up to install the actual tower.  The finished product didn’t look anything like the photo simulation but the installers took down the posted picture so residents didn’t have anything to compare it against.  “I could have sworn it would be smaller than that” was a typical reaction.  They were absolutely right.

Here’s a side by side comparison of the photo simulation posted at the site versus what was actually installed.  It isn’t pretty.

Miraleste Hills 3

So what do we have here?  Let’s run down the list:

  • The overall installation is taller than depicted
  • The Medusa-like cable mess was nowhere to be seen in the photo simulation
  • The pole-mounted equipment cabinet top is 33 inches higher than depicted
  • The equipment cabinet itself is 23 inches taller than depicted
  • The equipment cabinet is also clearly wider and deeper than depicted
  • The meter wasn’t installed yet but meters on existing sites are much larger than depicted

All of the photo simulation “errors” made the installation appear less intrusive than actuality; there were none that made it look more intrusive.  In engineering that’s known as a systemic bias and it doesn’t take a statistician to realize it probably wasn’t due to random chance.


Residents documented all this and submitted it to RPV and some good things came from it.  First, it added fuel to the fire that RPV needed a strong wireless ordinance ASAP.  The City Council and the City Attorney’s office responded by passing an excellent comprehensive ordinance by urgency measure.

Second, RPV’s Public Works Department initiated a citywide cell tower inventory and documented all existing sites in the public right of way.  The results were integrated into the RPV’s GIS portal and are available to all residents through the City’s website.  It’s impressive, a great resource, and will help guard against unauthorized installations and changes.

Last, the City had Crown Castle clean up the Miraleste Hills site.  The cable rat’s nest was redone and the equipment cabinet moved off the pole to a relatively unobtrusive location around the corner next to the hedgerow.

End of story, right?  Well, not exactly.  Crown Castle’s crack installation team now had to match the silver cabinet to the green hedgerow.    Apparently it was nothing a quick trip to Home Depot spray paint aisle couldn’t fix.  See for yourself.

This is right next to $2 million homes.  We hope this multi-billion dollar corporation at least sprung for a $10 can of Krylon rather than using the cheap stuff.

Miraleste Hills 4


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