Residents and city officials need to know: There is a burden of proof to be met by the applicant that a truly “significant” gap in coverage actually exists in the location where the applicant proposes to install a wireless facility. Many cities are now requiring this burden of proof be met before accepting proposed wireless facility installation permit applications. Residents also take note: Do your own cell phone survey to supply your local officials with reasons ("substantial evidence") to deny the proposed cell tower installation or to request that the provider find another feasible, available, and less obtrusive location. See example below.
September 2009: Burbank Water and Power mailed out a 5.5" x 8.5" postcard notifying certain residents about a proposed wireless telecommunications facility at Brace Canyon recreational park. Here's a copy:
Flip side of postcard shows map:
The flyer says the facility will help fill in gaps of T-mobile in its coverage and improve its service.
However, according to T-Mobile's Personal Coverage Check, area residents are already receiving Good and Best voice coverage from T-Mobile. Just go to http://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/pcc.aspx?WT.z_unav=mst_global_cvg, and then type in the address of 2800 Haven Way, Burbank, CA 91504, for Brace Canyon park. You'll see something like this:
On that same search results page, if you click the DATA COVERAGE tab, you'll see that the map for our area reveals coverage for data, as well:
As for T-Mobile's competition -- AT&T, Sprint/Nextel, Verizon-- wireless coverage checks on their websites show good and great coverage for our neighborhood surrounding Brace Canyon Park, so we're pretty well covered already. I.e., we don't need a new T-Mobile wireless tower here.
Federal law prohibits cities from denying cell tower permits for wireless providers that need to fill a "significant" gap in coverage. However, we don't have a significant gap in T-Mobile coverage in and near the proposed cell tower location, so we have good reason to deny this project.
Burbank hillside resident Alex Safarian, who lives near the proposed Brace Canyon park cell tower location, told Burbank City Council on Dec. 8, 2009, that he was a T-mobile customer and also had good coverage. Visiting physician Dr. Jan Lei Iwata of Chicago, IL, who visits with family in the same hillside area, also told City Council that she has good coverage with her T-mobile phone; she surveyed the area near and around the proposed cell tower location, as well, and could make and receive calls without any problem. *
In addition, Alex Safarian and hillside residents Andrew Bolhuis and Kiku Lani Iwata did in-home, driving and walking tests with a T-mobile cell phone, and were able to make and receive quality calls throughout the neighborhood surrounding the proposed cell tower location.** They videotaped their survey and submitted it on DVD to our Burbank City Mayor, City Council and Planning Board on July 26, 2010. It's also posted on YouTube for viewing convenience (see boxes below and click Arrow button to play video), or go to YouTube BurbankACTION Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/BurbankACTION
We are not alone.
Residents in three separate areas of Los Angeles County -- Windsor Hills/View Park, Hacienda Heights, and LaCrescenta/Montrose-- also felt the same way we do. Each resident group recently had a cell towers proposed for their neighborhoods, and so they did their own resident surveys, which revealed their area already had good coverage from the wireless providers proposing the installations. They shared their survey results to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. who ultimately denied the proposed cell towers and ruled in favor of the residents.*
In Temple City, T-Mobile wanted to install a cell tower (disguised as a monopine) at a church located in a residential neighborhood. At a public hearing in November 2009, David Castro, Temple City resident, said he used to live behind the church and was able to get perfect T-Mobile reception then, so he didn’t understand why T-Mobile said they need coverage in this area. City Council on April 6, 2010, denied the proposed tower.**
Resident John McMahon, in Glendale, CA, who opposed a T-Mobile cell tower to be installed in front of his home also did his own survey with the help of fellow residents. They found out that they already had good T-Mobile coverage. Watch video of their survey results here, posted on YouTube, for all the world to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0LDdMxQhAI&feature=player_embedded. You can also see video of Mr. McMahon informing Glendale City Council about his resident survey results; see City Council Meeting, Glendale, CA, Glendale TV, January 7, 2009 @ 2:13:22, http://glendale.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=1227UT (T-mobile ultimately pulled out from this proposed installation.)
For a very strong illustration of what we're talking about, go here to see video of a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting that gives residents inspiration to check/confirm if they already have sufficient cell phone coverage in their neighborhood. Excerpt from the documentary, "Bad Reception: The Wireless Revolution in San Francisco,” produced by Doug Loranger of CLOUT (www.cloutnow.org): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXMOakKF2bg
Finally, look at how the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals addressed what a significant gap in coverage is and isn’t in Sprint PCS v. the City of Palos Verdes Estates. It noted how Sprint had convinced the lower district court that its RF propagation maps were sufficient to establish a significant gap in coverage.
“We disagree,” responded the Ninth Circuit Court, which found Sprint’s projected coverage estimates “far from clear.” The Court added (boldface emphasis below, is ours):
In any event, that there was a “gap,” is certainly not sufficient to show there was a “significant gap” in coverage”… “[T]he relevant service gap must be ‘truly’ significant...The TCA does not guarantee wireless service providers coverage free of small ‘dead spots . . . .’
In addition, the Court noted how Sprint already had existing cell towers throughout the city. It also acknowledged that public remarks and residents’ drive test results contained in the staff report “further illustrate that Sprint’s existing network was, at the very least, functional.” To read this landmark decision, see Sprint v Palos Verdes Estates, October 13, 2009, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, pages 14551-14554, http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/10/13/05-56106.pdf
And remind your officials that the proposed installation is not about providing complete 911 coverage. When you make a 911 call with your cell phone, your phone is going to connect you to the nearest cell tower, even if it’s a competitor’s tower. Residents of Windsor Hills and Glendale explained this to their local elected officials: 911 is a "nonissue."*****
Resident groups in other communities have shared this same information with their elected officials, and Burbank resident Alex Safarian informed City Council members on December 8, 2009, similarly.******
Public safety and consumer experts also advise home callers to keep their land-lines, especially for calling and relying on efficient and the best 911 emergency services, for instance, when power is out and in times of disaster. In those cases, when wireless service goes down, the traditional landline phones in contrast will still function. There are also other advantage of landline 911 calls over wireless 911 calls, especially when it comes to determining the exact location of the 911 call. Read:
1. Consumer Reports: http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2009/05/using-a-cell-phone-as-your-home-phone-comes-with-a-risk.html
2. HTC: http://www.htccommunications.net/customer_severe_weather_landline.cfm
3. City of Beumont, TX: http://www.cityofbeaumont.com/CityofBeaumont/information_911_voip.htm
4. Lakewood, CO, Police Department: http://www.lakewood.org/index.cfm?&include=/PD/lpdcomm/undrhdst.cfm
* Resident test was done on Saturday, January 16 at 3:30 to 4:38 p.m. Our video shows Mr. Safarian placing calls on a T-Mobile subscriber phone. He is communicating on speaker phone with Ms. Joanna Iwata, who is on a land-line phone in the Hillside home of her sister Kiku Lani Iwata. For T-Mobile's current and projected coverage maps with the proposed Brace Canyon park cell tower, see "Attachments" below; pink dot represents proposed installation site; maps provided by Synergy, the consulting group representing T-Mobile for the proposed installation.
** See Burbank City Council Meeting, December 8, 2009, video of proceedings, physician Dr. Jan Lei Iwata @ 5:25:33 and California State licensed real estate sales person and resident who lives near the proposed site Alex Safarian @ 6:27:32: http://burbank.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=848
*** For View Park/Windsor Hills related documents, see: Letters by resident Sally Hampton and resident Catherine Laws about good T-Mobile coverage, Source: Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Report Documents for Project No. R2006-03164-(2), Conditional Use Permit Case No. 2007-00020-(2), September 15, 2009, pp. 73-74, and p. 286; also found on-line at: http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/48444.pdf. Read Public Comment by Miriam Nakamura-Quam re: coverage, see Transcript for LA Co. BOS Meeting, June 23, 2009, p. 44-45, on-line at: http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/transcripts/transcripts_2009.asp#P-1_0. Also read LA Co. BOS/LA Co. Counsel Final Findings and Order to Deny, September 15, 2009, on-line at http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/51099.pdf.
For La Crescenta/Montrose related documents, see: Reasons for Appeal by Glenn Workman, and Letter by Workman Family and Neighbors regarding adequate coverage claims; Source: LA Co. BOS Report Documents for Project No. R2004-00805-(5), Conditional Use Permit Case No. 2007-00051-(5), see pp. 1-2, and pp. 13-15, on-line at: http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/46431.pdf. Read Public Comments by Glenn Workman and Elise Kalfayan, see Transcript for LA Co. BOS Meeting, May 26, 2009, pp. 22-27, on-line at: http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/transcripts/05-26-09%20Board%20Meeting%20Transcript%20%28C%29.pdf. Also read LA Co. BOS and Co. Counsel Final Findings and Order to Deny, October 6, 2009, on-line at: http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/51430.pdf.
For Hacienda Heights related documents, see: Reason for Appeal dated 2-17-2009 by John Chen re: coverage gap not true, Source: LA Co. BOS Report Documents for Project No. R2007-02104-(4), Conditional Use Permit Case No. 200700149-(4), pp. 1-2, on-line at: http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/48070.pdf. Also read LA Co. BOS October 27, 2009, Public Hearing/Meeting Transcript, specifically: pp. 36-37, resident Cheryl Riley says that T-Mobile has not proven that its coverage claims are valid, and pp. 58-60, where Supervisor and Chairman Don Knabe addresses the resident coverage test that questions T-Mobile’s information about its coverage deficiency, and that T-Mobile failed to show a significant coverage gap, on-line at: http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/transcripts/10-27-09%20Board%20Meeting%20Transcript%20(C).pdf. Read LA Co. BOS approve motion of intent to deny, October 27, 2009, on-line at : http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/51925.pdf. Also read LA BOS and LA Co. Counsel Final Findings and Order to Deny, March 9, 2010, on-line at: http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/53564.pdf
****See: Temple City Council Meeting, video of proceedings, Item 8, November 17, 2009, Resident David Castro provides public comment @ 1:06:00, http://kgem.tv/2009/11/temple-city-city-council-november-17-2009/. Also read Temple City Council Resolution No. 10-4664 in Section IV-A, denying the CUP, approved April 6, 2010, in particular page 2, item H, re: coverage, see "Attachments" below; resolution provided by City Clerk Mary Flandrick, Temple City, e-mail: email@example.com
***** See Windsor Hills/View Park example, read Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Statement of Proceeding for September 15, 2009, page 111 of resident PowerPoint presentation, http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/48444.pdf
******See Burbank City Council Meeting, December 8, 2009, video of proceedings, resident Alex Safarian @ 6:27:58: http://burbank.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=848