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Need for Local Governments to Draft New Ordinance and/or Updated Regulations

Does your city have an outdated wireless facility ordinance?  Most do.  If you city hasn't updated its wireless ordinance, then your homes, schools and parks may be an open target for a proposed cell tower.  Organize your residents, local real estate professionals and homeowners associations to request your City officials update theirs other cities are now doing. 

However, make sure you're vigilant that the new or updated regulations will protect your neighborhoods, residents, homes, schools, parks, nursing homes and daycare centers.  (For example, residents in Pasadena were not happy with the new wireless facility ordinance that the city adopted!  Read more about that, below.)  Look to new model ordinances in Richmond, CA, and Glendale, CA (and read more about the recent development in Hempstead, NY, below).  Our City of Burbank, CA, right now is in the process of updating its wireless ordinance.  The process was launched in December 2009, and the City's Planning Department hopes to propose a new comprehensive ordinance by December 2010. 

Also be aware that if you're able to get a proposed cell tower near you denied, the applicant may re-apply to another location near your home/school/park, or in the public right of way (the sidewalks, alleys, utility and light poles next to your home)-- and that's why you need to push for stronger wireless regulations that include public-right-of-way (PROW) wireless installations for your community to be pro-active.

This is what has happened in neighboring Sherman Oaks, CA, where residents were successful in opposing a cell tower proposed near their homes, but T-Mobile returned, targeting the sidewalk (public right of way) next to homes in the area because the City of Los Angeles lacks strong regulations regarding wireless facility installations in PROW.

In response to resident concerns, a growing number of cities and counties have issued moratoria on cell tower installations so they can study this issue and draft a new ordinance regarding wireless facilities.   Irvine did, and so did Richmond, and our neighbor, Glendale, to name just a few.  Agoura Hills is currently under a wireless moratorium to work on its  new ordinance.  (Burbank, on the other hands, is updating its wireless regulations without imposing a moratorium; it did, however, recently adopt interim regulations requiring a Conditional Use Permit for all newly proposed cell towers on private property.  And we residents are asking the City to adopt regulations addressing installations in public rights of way.  A growing number of communities are requiring CUPs for those installations now.  More and more of them will be proposed for the sidewalks and alleys in front and behind our homes.)

Here are some examples that may help your effort, and justify it, and also watch video of effective resident presentations, including those dealing with residents opposing cell towers in their communities, below.

On April 13, 2010, the Mayor and City Council members of Glendale, CA, unanimously approved the city's new wireless facility ordinance, considered one of the most stringent in the state.  Read the Glendale NewsPress article:

Here's also a link to the approved ordinance: http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/gmc/Ordinance5692.pdf

Glendale resident Elise Kalfayan edits the Sunroom Desk and has written some great articles about the new ordinance, including, "Glendale Wireless Ordinance Set For Approval" (April 7, 2010): 

Ms. Kalfayan,
who is a member of the Glendale resident group GOACT (Glendale Against Cell Towers), has also created a wonderful resource page for communities and residents: "Wireless Issues Resource Page Offers Links to Hearings, Reports, Rulings, Policy Issues" (April 14, 2010): http://sunroomdesk.com/2010/04/14/wireless-issues-resource-page-updated-as-glendale-city-council-approves-new-ordinance/

Let's applaud the City of Glendale and its residents for doing the right thing, and setting the example regarding cell towers in their neighborhoods.  Let's hope their actions become the model for other cities and communities, including Burbank, to follow.

In contrast, let's not emulate Pasadena's disappointing new wireless facility ordinance, which has been regarded by residents as worse than its original.  Read the telling Sunroom Desk's article, "Lessons for Glendale in Second Reading of Pasadena's Proposed Wireless Ordinance," May 19, 2009,

Let's also make sure we do this right, so we don't end up having an ugly monstrosity like this appearing right next to your home; see this photo of cell phone structure in Brentwood along a scenic route section of Sunset Boulevard (installed in a public right of way, without notifying residents).  This is now happening all over Los Angeles because its City Council has failed to update its wireless ordinance despite mounting pleas from its residents: http://sunroomdesk.com/2010/05/19/objections-piling-up-at-la-city-hall-asnew-cell-sites-proliferate-without-notice/

Also educate yourself on wireless "Smart" meters that gas and electric utility companies are installing on homes, residences and businesses, and find out what actions residents across the nation are taking in opposing them due to privacy, health, and public safety reasons/concerns. 

June 9, 2009 Glendale City Council Meeting

Residents and local officials can work together to make a positive difference for their community.  For inspiration, watch these video clips from the City of Glendale City Council meeting, in which its Council members decide to pass an emergency ordinance that extends a moratorium on cell tower installations in residential areas:

Part 1: Glendale City Attorney presents data on cell tower survey in Glendale (110 active sites) and violations of code discovered during their survey:
Part 2: Representatives from T-Mobile and California Wireless Association present their comments about moratorium extension to City Council: Clark Harris from T-Mobile, Patti Ringo from California State Wireless Association (CALWA), and Sean Scully of CALWA:

Part 3: City Council responds by blasting wireless industry.  Council Member Laura Friedman and Council Member John Drayman are offended by wireless industry comments, and support Glendale residents:

Part 4: City Council continue to blast wireless industry.  Council Member Dave Weaver challenges report from wireless industry, and points about the preponderance of 42 T-Mobile cell towers in his city, "How much is enough?"  He wonders about adverse health effects, and hopes one day everything will come from satellite.  Mayor Frank Quintero is especially concerned about protecting residential neighborhoods, and says he has learned more from the community than the wireless experts.

January 7, 2009 "Special" Glendale City Council Meeting

Also watch how Glendale residents effectively present their case before their Mayor and City Council at this "Special" City Council Meeting that was held on January 7, 2009.  Residents making arguments for a new wireless ordinance, or against a proposed cell tower in their neighborhood, should look to the methods employed by the Glendale GOACT members.  They were very organized.  Each raised different points, making the most effective us of their Public Comment time.  Organizing their presentation this way also avoided duplicating points.  It thus produced a very professional presentation.  

Watch video below of Glendale residents (members of GOACT resident organization) presenting their case and arguments effectively before their City Council  members regarding a T-Mobile cell tower in their neighborhood.  There are three ways you could view this:

1) GOACT website with video clips:   http://www.getthecelloutofhere.com/watchthepresentation.html

2) Glendale residents have also posted video clips and the Power Point Presentation on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ChomsyRansom?feature=watch

3) Or, for the full, complete video of the resident discussion (recommended viewing!), watch the CITY OF GLENDALE VIDEO:  You can also view the City's video of this Item here (video of this item starts around 1:22:59 and runs until 3:53:00): http://glendale.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=1227.   (Viewing tips: You can move the player button to advance directly to  1:22:59.)

FYI: Resident Power Point Presentation begins around 1:58:49. 

If you would like to read the Agenda for January 7, 2009, see Item 8d: "City Attorney, re: Discussion of the Placement of Commercial Wireless Facilities Including the Placement of Wireless Antennas in Residential Areas & an Analysis of the Current State of the Law, Including Consideration of an Interim Urgency Ordinance Establishing a Moratorium on the Installation of Wireless Facilities in Residential Areas: 1. Interim Urgency Ordin. for Introduction; 2. Motion Providing Direction to Staff":  http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/government/agenda_minutes/4A200901071.pdf

Staff Report for Item 8d: http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/government/council_packets/Reports_010709/CC_8d_010709.pdf

For Minutes (including spelling of names and who spoke during Item 8a): http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/government/council_packets/Reports_020309/CC_SpMtgMinutes_010709.pdf

Go here to read a copy of the City of Glendale's new draft ordinance regarding cell towers (in all areas and zones of its city), as well as a copy of the GOACT  resident organization's PowerPoint presentation to City Council:

For a copy of Glendale's new wireless facility ordinance, approved April 13, 2010, as mentioned above, go here:  http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/gmc/Ordinance5692.pdf.

(Here is a copy of the resolution presented to City Council by staff prior to approval:
http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/government/council_packets/Reports_041310/CC_7a_041310.pdf .)

Here is the website for the Glendale resident group, Glendale Organized Against Cell Towers (GOACT): http://www.getthecelloutofhere.com/

Other Strong Ordinances and Requirements (Examples)

1.  The City of Richmond recently adopted a wireless facility ordinance in response to residents concerns, and it's considered among the stronger ones in the state of California.  You can print out and share their ordinance and  Application Submital Checklist with your local officials when asking them to adopt stronger regulations or deny a cell tower in your neighborhood because they lack strong regulations and requirements:

Richmond, CA’s new wireless Ordinance No. 09-10 N.S. was unanimously approved by its Mayor and City Council on February 16, 2010.  It can be found on-line on the City’s website at:  TUhttp://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/archives/66/Ord.%2009-10%20Wireless%20Communications%20Facilities-CONFORMED.pdf.

Richmond also requires a “Planning Division Wireless Communications Facility Conditional Use Permit Application Submittal Checklist” can  be found on the City’s website at http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=5577.

2.  The City of Burbank is currently updating its ordinance, and adopted interim regulations August 31, 2010.  This includes a new Supplemental Application form, and requiring a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for all newly proposed wireless facilities.  (The ordinance, however, still lacks regulations addressing installations in public rights of way, and needs to have stronger alternative site analysis information like the City of Richmond and Glendale require.)  Feel free to print out its new Supplemental Application Form and the CUP requirement as an example of a city that is adopting new regulations and requiring more detailed information from its wireless applicants in response to resident concerns.

Supplemental Application Form: http://www.ci.burbank.ca.us/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=6505

Interim ordinance regulation requiring CUP: http://burbank.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=1652&meta_id=84778

Staff Report: http://burbank.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=1652&meta_id=84777

Also look at these "Burbank Updates" pages on our website below to see how officials and residents presented their concerns and are adopting new interim regulations until the City's updated comprehensive ordinance is reviewed and approved later this year.  These links below also include Staff Reports, related exhibits, and our Burbank ACTION Resident Letters and Reports (see Dec 8, 2009; June 14, 2010; July 26, 2010 and Aug. 31, 2010, to view and download copies of our Burbank ACTION Resident Letters and Reports) that we submitted to our local officials; feel free to print and share with your local officials justifying why there's room for improving and tightening local regulations.

3.  Print out the Generic Application Form recommended by attorney Jonathan Kramer on his website; Kramer advised the City of Glendale in updating its wireless ordinance, and is also advising Burbank while it updates its ordinance:

4.  The Town of Hempstead, NY, unanimously adopts (Sept. 21, 2010) a revised wireless ordinance that is perhaps the toughest in the country right now, in response to residents concerns and outrage at finding cell towers installed on light posts outside of their homes.  It has a tiered approach, similar to how Glendale has one, with preferred and non-preferred locations and wants newly proposed cell towers to be located at least 1,500 feet away from homes, schools, daycare centers and places of worship.  Print out a copy of the news story below, as well as the revised ordinance to share with your officials:

5.  Calabasas, CA, Wireless Developments: It's inspiring to watch the Mayor and City Council of Calabasas, California, discuss and then unanimously agree (Sept. 22, 2010) to follow in the footsteps of several other cities across the state and nation by exploring ways that they can tighten their wireless facility regulations.  They may even go one step further than those before them, as Mayor Barry Groveman expressed the desire for the City to "take the lead" on this issue.  Calabasas city officials are responding to residents concerns that more needs to and can be done to protect residents and children from cell towers in residential areas and in public rights of way, especially in light of major resident concerns surrounding a T-Mobile cell tower proposed for Las Virgenes Water District property only 50 feet away from residents in an R-1 zone. 

You can watch video of their recent public hearing, and read more info about their updated regulatory efforts and related documents here: https://sites.google.com/site/nocelltowerinourneighborhood/home/calabasas-wireless-regulations-developments

Read more about how residents are pushing City officials to adopt tougher regulations here: https://sites.google.com/site/nocelltowerinourneighborhood/home/calabasas-wireless-regulations-developments

6.  Also, residents in Oceanside, CA, are pushing for stronger wireless regulations, and on Oct. 20, 2010, their City Council approved an Urgency Ordinance to offer more protections for residential areas. 

Two resident leaders have also been appointed to the newly formed committee!

Download/read Staff Report, resident documents submitted, etc., and watch video, on our website here: https://sites.google.com/site/nocelltowerinourneighborhood/home/oceanside-updated-wireless-ordinance

Read more about how residents are pushing City officials to adopt tougher regulations here: https://sites.google.com/site/nocelltowerinourneighborhood/home/oceanside-updated-wireless-ordinance

Resident website, Oceanside City Accountability For Neighborhoods (OCAFN): http://ocafn.org/

7.  Meanwhile, residents in Walnut Creek, CA, are asking their City Council to update their wireless ordinance, too. 

8.  The City of Agoura Hills, CA, also adopted a moratorium so it can draft a new wireless ordinance.  For related documents and video, please scroll down to the bottom of this page, and view/download the "Attachment."

9. The Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning on July 26, 2010, approved a memo requiring a Conditional Use Permit for wireless facility installations in public rights of way (PROW).  Print and share a copy of this with your local officials, scroll down to the bottom of this page, and view/download the "Attachment."

10.  San Francisco is updating its PROW ordinance.  For a copy of the latest draft, see "Attachment" below to view/download and print out and share with your local officials and fellow residents.  (The Planning Commission is scheduled to have a meeting on the ordinance in works on October 7. )

11.  Read and print out how residents throughout Los Angeles City are asking for regulatory reform: http://citywatchla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3825

12.  Read how residents in other communities are saying "no" to cell towers, and what actions are being taken to oppose them.

Maybe we residents, by pushing for and adopting stronger local wireless regulations, can get a wave of local regulatory reform happening all over the  nation that wll send our Congress and President (and the FCC) a message that we don't like approve of the FCC's current RF exposure limits (they're outdated and inadequate) and we're also opposed to the current regulations mandated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that restrict local governments from siting cell towers based on health concerns.

Resident Presentations
Other Good Examples of Residents Presenting Effective Comments

Watch and learn from other residents opposing cell towers in their neighborhoods. 

Residents from the Windsor Hills/View Park district of Los Angeles made excellent use of their Public Comment time appealing the approval of a cell tower in their neighborhood by presenting a very effective public presentation and set of arguments  before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was the Windsor Hills/View Park district of Los Angeles City.  Watch the video here of their resident presentation lead by resident Sally Hampton:

At the September 23, 2008 Public Hearing:

At the June 23, 2009 Public Hearing:
FYI: here is the Sept. 15, 2009 denial that the Board of Supervisors issued, along with the case file so you can see what the residents gathered and presented to their local officials to help build "substantial evidence" to deny:

LA County Board of Supervisors, June 28, 2011:  Los Angeles area residents effectively organized and appealed and opposed the Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission's approval of a proposed AT&T wireless facility (cell tower) on 147 East Loma Alta Drive in unincorporated Altadena.  The Altadena Town Council had also approved of this project.   The arguments they raised included height problems, industrial and commercial facility presenting inappropriate look and feel of proposed tower in residential area, foothills, natural environment and wildlife habitat, potential fire hazards, and challenging coverage gap claims by AT&T, and the Sprint vs. Palos Verdes legal court case (regarding coverage),

1.  Watch video of their organized Comments  here (also included is a transcript):


When you get to that page, enter the Year "2011," Month "June,"  meeting date "6/28 PM," and then enter the Segment "Agenda Item 11 (public hearing".   Resident public comment and a decision by LA County Board of Supervisors is made within 30 minutes.   (Thanks to resident Pilar Goeders for taking action and giving us this link.)

2.  Read Statements of Proceedings for June 28, 2011, and go page 17 for Item 11.  Click and download "Board Letter" (which is like a Staff Report and includes Petition and letters from Community) and "Motion by Supervisor Antonovich"  http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/sop/cms1_163029.pdf

3.  Read Statement of Proceedings for November 22, 2011, and go to Page 27 for Item 22.  Click  and download "Findings for Denial" to read the legal arguments on why this proposed project is being denied: http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/sop/cms1_170048.pdf

(This item was motioned for approval and seconded; however, there are some Commentss here by AT&T reps if you would like to listen to them: http://bosvideoap.co.la.ca.us/mgasp/lacounty/VideoPlayer_NS.asp?Audio=ENGLISH.   Enter the required data to view the Item 22, Year 2011, Month, November, Meeting Date November 22, and Item Number 22.)

For other very good examples of Los Angeles resident presentations, go to the footnotes of our  "We Already Have Good Coverage" section of our website.  (It includes examples from residents of Hacienda Heights and Montrose -- in addition to coverage and public safety concerns, they also raise arguments about aesthetics and effects on wildlife.)

Other Tips

In addition to the tips above:

Some residents hire attorneys, who are good at helping you find violations and presenting and organizing effective evidence at public hearings.  Others do not because of cost or other reasons and are still able to get denials of proposed projects -- you will have to determine what is best for you and your goals.

If you do hire an attorney, keep in mind that, in addition to an attorney's work and Public Comments at your public hearings, remember: the voices and Public Comments from real residents and members of the community should not be underestimated. 

Present your arguments concisely and in an organized fashion like the residents above did.  Each one of you can make different points (try not to repeat what others said), to make the best and most effective use of the Public Comment time and thus have more (combined) time to present ALL of your arguments and points. 

Present heartfelt concerns and valid arguments, and avoid yelling at your local officials, because you want to be professional and taken seriously. 

The power of residents offering Public Comment: you put a real 'face" up there before you local officials that you elected into office, and help remind them that they are accountable to you.

Present reports and correspondence before the public hearing to your City Clerk that officials can read and review, and that you can reference during Public Comment.  If you have any new statements or documents to present during the actual public hearing, have those ready to submit to the City Clerk at the public hearing to become part of the record and "substantial evidence" that the City needs to build in order to take action and adopt new regulations or oppose the proposed cell tower project.

Also contact local homeowner associations and neighborhood councils and educate them about your concerns and the reasons why they should deny the proposed cell tower, or support a new wireless ordinance or new wireless regulations.  Ask them to write letters of support and show up at your public hearing(s) to voice their concerns and recommendations.  These groups often support the campaigns of certain local/elected officials, so their support of your presentation may carry a lot of weight with your local officials.  Do the same with local realtors (See Tools, below, under "Decrease in Property Value"), and get them to sign a petition or provide letters of support. 

Try to meet with the property owner and the reps of the proposed wireless facility and educate them about your concerns and the issue, and ask them very politely if they would consider not moving forward with the project, or move the proposed project to an alternative, less obtrusive location.  

Find out for yourself if there are truly any significant gaps in coverage.

Suggest alternative, less obtrusive locations that will still serve the coverage needs of the applicant if a significant gap does exist.

Read the application submitted for the proposed project and see what it entails.  Find out if there are any violations or conflicts in your city's codes, zoning regulations, ordinance, general and master plan.   Determine if and how it is out of character with the neighborhood and surrounding structures, and/or affects scenic views.

Make your push for regulation or opposition to your proposed cell tower PUBLIC:

Create a name for your resident group.  [In case you're wondering, Burbank ACTION took inspiration from Bridgewater, NJ, residents who dubbed themselves Milltown ACTION (Against Cell Towers In Our Neighborhood).  Residents of Orange Hunt in Springfield, VA,  have recently taken on the group name Orange Hunt ACTION.  There are also many groups with the name ACT - against cell towers -- in it, like GOACT, Glendale Organized Against Cell Towers.]

Set up a website where residents can get updates and action items from you, learn about upcoming meetings, events, and what they can do to help. 

Approach your local newspaper, and educate its reporters and Editor about this issue and how other communities are taking action.  Write letters to the Editor, and ask the Editor to write an Editorial in support of what you and your resident are requesting.  Develop a good relationship with your local reporter who is assigned to write the City Council and Planning Commission/Board stories, and update them on your efforts and share your findings with them to help them write a complete story; offer to organize members of our resident group for any photos they need to take to support or accompany their story they are writing.  Our Burbank Leader has been great at reporting about our wireless issues, and also wrote a terrific editorial; read their work here.

For many communities, residents have also created T-shirt with logos, banners and signs that they can post on homes that provide  good visual photo opportunities for your local media.  They have also organized community protests and marches, and have invited the television media to report on those events. 

Get a Petition organized of residents signing and agreeing and asking for the  proposed cell tower to be denied, or for new regulations or a moratorium so new regulations can be adopted.  Submit this petition to your local officials, so they realize there are dozens (and more) of their residents wanting their officials to take action to protect them. 

Have residents write your local officials letters of concern and asking for action to protect them.

Here are other "Tools" on our website that you can read about and present as possible reasons to support your concerns and arguments:
Installation appearing in our public rights of way (sidewalks, alleys behind and in front of our homes, scenic corridors, utility poles, telephone poles, signals and lights) are now turning into a growing problem for residents and cities.  Read more about this subject on our Public Right of Way Developments page so you can figure out how to get your City to adopt regulations addressing these.

And please join our Facebook page to read and share info with residents from other communities opposing cell towers near their homes and schools.  Write on our Wall and inform other about your efforts to update your wireless ordinance or oppose your cell tower, too.  Post links to your city's agenda, local news stories, etc. : http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/No-Cell-Tower-In-Our-Neighborhood/200291996083?ref=ts

K Iwata,
Sep 26, 2010, 9:08 PM
K Iwata,
Sep 26, 2010, 10:29 AM
K Iwata,
Sep 27, 2010, 12:11 AM