Compromise with Crown Castle?

We received a thoughtful email from an Rancho Palos Verdes resident suggesting we meet with Crown Castle to work out a mutually-agreeable solution in the interest of improving cell service.  We should note that the deployment is only for AT&T thus regardless of what happens there will be no cell service improvement for two-thirds of peninsula residents.  In any case, we welcome the opportunity to work with Crown Castle but have made clear that any such cooperation must focus on overall compliance with RPV’s wireless facility ordinance.  None of the proposed sites come close to doing so.

Crown Castle has met with individual PV residents in the past.  However, at Crown Castle’s insistence, the scope has always been limited to minor changes to an individual site.  For example, discussions might consider moving an intrusive residential site from the initial location to the next adjacent streetlight or utility pole.  In other words, moving it from being your eyesore to being your neighbor’s eyesore.

We refuse to play this game as it doesn’t address the essential fact that every site proposed grossly violates RPV’s wireless facility ordinance without credible justification.  If Crown Castle wants to get these sites approved they need to comply with the ordinance.  There are many details but it really boils down to three core issues:

  • Antenna size – Crown Castle’s proposal to place two 50” tall by 19” wide antennas on residential streetlights is ridiculous and completely unacceptable. These antennas will be three times wider than the streetlight pole itself, each with an area exceeding 6 square feet, and completely at odds with the community architectural character.  Comparable deployments in other cities used antennas only 24” tall by 11” wide, less than one-third the size.  Here’s the antenna size they want to install on a small, residential streetlight.

6 sq ft antenna

Same size antenna on a 42 foot utility pole on industrial-zoned Gaffey Street in San Pedro.  Now imagine two of them on a streetlight half that size in your residential neighborhood.  (Side note: Is it too much to ask that antennas be mounted plumb?  Good grief, there’s a Home Depot right down the street from this site that sells bubble levels for less than ten bucks.)

  • Accessory Equipment location – Crown Castle proposes to place bulky accessory equipment either high on the pole itself or in huge above ground cabinets, often right in front of homes.  This is also unacceptable as RPV’s ordinance requires accessory equipment be located underground.  The carriers have done this many times in the past without problems.  The equipment can be located quite distant from the antenna itself; one proposed installation in Palos Verdes Estates locates the equipment over 70 feet away from the antenna tower.

above_ground_cabinet

Proposed above ground cabinet to be placed directly in front of homes.  Cabinet is 57″ tall.  Crown Castle claims this gigantic box is required despite the fact it will be 80% empty with the equipment they plan to install.  It’s either a scare tactic to gain approval of pole-mounted equipment or they have big plans for the future they aren’t telling us about.

  • Residential neighborhood locations – The majority of Crown Castle’s proposed sites are in the heart of residential neighborhoods, many right in resident’s front yards. RPV’s wireless ordinance prohibits this unless the location is required to prevent an “effective prohibition” of service (this has a specific legal meaning).  Intrusive residential neighborhood locations are intolerable unless there is no feasible alternative to prevent a significant gap in coverage.

We’ve documented on this blog very troubling aspects of questionable behavior on Crown Castle’s part, including highly misleading submissions to the City.  It’s also clear that Crown Castle’s design and site locations were chosen to minimize cost with virtually no consideration of community aesthetics.  Last off, Crown Castle’s claims of design/location being “required” are incredibly weak, reek of engineering perfectionism, omit important technical context, and wouldn’t hold up in court if it came to that.  We know, we’ve analyzed all of them.

We’re sure they aren’t happy with us either.

We welcome the opportunity to set this aside and work together.  However, any such collaboration must correct the three core issues listed above with genuine, good-faith compliance with RPV’s wireless facility ordinance.  We will not accept window dressing or “throw them a bone” concessions, nor will we accept unsupported claims that ordinance compliance is infeasible.  Fortunately, we have the technical and legal expertise to test any such claims.  Simply put, the deployment as proposed is fatally flawed and requires a fundamental rethinking with community aesthetics as the top priority.

We await Crown Castle’s response, we check our contact form submissions daily.

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