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AT&T Looking for New Location for Altadena Cell Tower

Seven months after county officials rejected an AT&T cell tower location off of Loma Alta Drive, the company is planning to look for a new location.

Seven months after getting a permit for a cell tower on Loma Alta Drive rejected, AT&T is looking for a location in Altadena to install a tower, a company representative said at a meeting on Tuesday.

The subject came up during an Altadena Coalition of Neighborhood Associations meeting on cell phone reception in Altadena.

Rich Roche, the External Affairs Director for the company, did not have any specific locations to announce or any timeline on when there might be more details, but he said the company still sees a need for a tower in the Altadena area.

He said the company wants to work with Altadena residents to find a good location and to "create visible and vocal support" for the project.

"We need your help," Roche said.  "If you believe it is a good idea, you can speak up for it."

The company's previous proposal .  Michael Antonovich, Altadena's representative on the board, argued that the 100-foot-tall proposed tower was "visually intrusive" and incompatible with neighborhood zoning codes that allow for a maximum height of 35 feet for buildings.  The tower would have been located in a wash area at 147 E. Loma Alta Drive.

There were a significant number of residents in favor of the tower and also a significant amount of opposition at the time: The county reported 53 letters or emails of support for the proposal, but also received a petition signed by more than 40 people who were opposed.  A small group of residents in opposition showed up to testify against the tower at each public hearing it received.

Opposition Speaks Up

At Tuesday's meeting some members of the opposition to that project showed up to speak.  One member of the group said she would be in opposition to any cell tower project in a residential neighborhood in Altadena.

Another speaker said the problem with the first project essentially was a lack of communication. She noted that the Altadena Town Council had come up with the Loma Alta location after there was resident opposition to locating the tower elsewhere in town.  After the project was moved, neither the Town Council nor AT&T communicated with the residents who lived closest to the new Loma Alta locations.

As to whether any future tower could be significantly reduced in height or moved to a hill side area further away for residents, the prospects do not look good.

Tim O’Malley, a Verizon Wireless representative who was also spoke at Tuesday's meeting, said that a 35-foot-tower that met Altadena residential code height restrictions would not function very well.  The problem, he said, is that it would be the same height as many trees and houses, which would effectively block the signal.

Cell towers placed too high up on a hill side, on the other hand, would pick up too many signals to function effectively, O'Malley said.

For those who do want to see improved reception in Altadena, the cell tower may not come any time soon: Roche said at the meeting that in L.A. County it can take 18 months from submitting a proposal just to get through the planning process and schedule a county hearing.

Robby January 25, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Perhaps the people who are opposed to better cell coverage in Altadena will pick up the tab for folks who are forced to carry a land line because they have no cell signal. And of course they'll also be able to help me if I run into trouble while I am out walking my dog at night and can't get a call out, right?
Lorraine Pozniak January 25, 2012 at 08:01 PM
It doesn't matter where AT&T puts their tower because they won't share it, anyway. It doesn't help Sprint customers or customers of any other carrier, even though I pay over $5 per month to Sprint, over and above my calling plan, to "defray costs" imposed on them, by AT&T, no doubt... I have a land line, from Charter, also. I pay them a $6.50 per month line charge, over and above my calling plan, which, no doubt, gets paid back to AT&T, as well... Even after the government broke up their monopoly, AT&T still gets money for nothing. Don't tell me it's to reimburse them for the use of their "infrastructure". They've been paid back for that a billion times over, by now...
Natalie January 26, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Come on Altadena, get into the real world. I rely more and more on my cell phone. People can reach me whenever I'm not at home - and that's a lot of the time. I only give out my cell phone number nowadays. If our kids have cell phones, they can reach us from wherever they are, to let us know they're safe, need a ride, or whatever. The cell phone has become an invaluable part of our lives, especially the iPhone. Don't let the small but vociferous anti-cell phone lobby deny a whole area the right to have decent reception. Although the companies don't share their towers (they're in competition, after all), it would be neighborly to speak up for improvements to every company's reception. Think about the greater good for all the residents of the area - their safety, the safety of their kids, and the ability to use cell phones when they're at home and save on the cost of land lines. And give a thought to the contractors that come to work on the houses - their cell phones are the only means of communication with their base, their suppliers and other clients. If it's any consolation, the towers will probably not be needed in 10 year's time or less, as the technology moves on. Apathy will win the day for the opponents - if you want to be able to use your cell phone in Altadena, I hope you will attend meetings and speak up.
Dr.Jon Postajian, Chiropractor January 26, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Finally. I am in support of this project. We have such bad service here in Altadena and sometimes it affects my business because I, like so many others use my cell phone for work...
Lori Paul January 26, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Per my prior comments: With respect, rather than plastering the community with unsightly individual towers scattered in close proximity to residences, why doesn't AT&T follow the example of towers placed in other rugged terrain locales and mount their cell antennas on the big power towers? SCE is planning the large Tehachapi Project to replace the tall transmission towers above Altadena and La Canada Flintridge on the San Gabriel Mountains above us. We can all look up and see the existing towers. Soon, they will be even taller 500kV towers. All the cell companies (T-Mobile, Verizon & AT&T) could mount their cell equipment on those towers that are in line of sight to all of Altadena, and we'd all have great cell service. Mounting cell service on those transmission towers makes sense. The excuse given at ACONA mtg belies locations where power tower cell antennas work well. Why has AT&T not proposed this? Is it because they would have to jump through USFS hoops to install in Angeles Nat'l Forest on the existing, or planned, transmission towers? Or, is there some other reason? I think we need to find out, specifically, why this option is rejected. The "mono-pine" designs AT&T has tried to impose on Altadena neighborhoods are unaesthetic, blow apart in high winds, and age poorly. More importantly, there is increasing evidence that close proximity to cell towers does involve increased health risks, regardless of what Federal standards (influenced by industry) allow.
SteveB January 26, 2012 at 06:25 PM
"Cell towers placed too high up on a hill side, on the other hand, would pick up too many signals to function effectively" seems to be their reason for not placing their equipment on the SCE towers. So apparently they want a location that is above the trees, but not too high.
Natalie January 26, 2012 at 06:55 PM
There are very strict rules about where cell towers can be placed and what they can be put on. In Pasadena, they have to go on an existing wooden pole. They can't be mounted on traffic signals as it would make them too heavy. They can go on lamp posts if they're high enough to give decent coverage. It'd be interesting to know the LA County rules about positioning. Lori's idea is an excellent one, but by the time the rules have been changed and the Forest Service has given permission, etc etc etc, cell phone technology will have moved beyond these transmitters anyway. I view this as a temporary issue. Not sure about the health risks - apparently a remote phone that can be carried around the house emits a huge amount of radiation, and many of us have those. A police car sends out a lot of radiation from the radio as it drives past. It's a risk vs benefit equation, as is catching a plane or driving a car.
Brian January 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Unless the existing cellular antennas in Altadena are raised to sufficient height, the crappy substandard cell service and outdated philosophy in Altadena will prevail - it's as simple as that. The solution is for all of us in favor to send letters and e-mails to Mike Antonivich. The L.A. County height regulation is ASININE given the fact that all of the other foothill communities have satisfactory cellular coverage except Sierra Madre - for probably same reasons. Disguised towers are not too unsightly and people will get used to them fast, once the cellular telephone coverage works as intended. The problem in Altadena is the Altadena residents who have complained to Antonovich. That has to change in order to make way for progress overdue. It seems ATT lost a lot of time in their good faith attempt to help solve a problem that most cities solved YEARS AGO. It is time for Altadenans to learn to get out of their own way! The Rubio wash area seems like a perfectly good location that would provide coverage to a large area of East Altadena and to the West. The homes located high to the North in Rubio Highlands area would not be blocked by such an addition - that notion is ludicrous. There are no homes to be blocked or hit by falling towers, etc.in that specific area. LET'S HAVE A VOTE ON IT.
Robert February 29, 2012 at 04:33 PM
We have had Cingular/AT@T for almost 10 years,we have always wondered why we have had poor service,yesturday I went to Att in La Canada to pickup a micro cell for my house and buy a new phone for my wife.I was fortunate enough to be there when one of the cell tower technician showed up to do something with his phone.He had mentioned they just had finished installing 4g around the rose bowl. Green with envy I asked, what about Altadena!!! HE SHOOK HIS HEAD AND SAID,TALK TO YOUR CITY COUNCIL. COME ON PEOPLE!!!!! Lets do what ever it takes to get a cell tower in Altadena,missed calls is very unprofessional. Im frustrated.
charlina October 25, 2012 at 02:08 AM
We need a cell tower in Altadena badly. You can put the cell tower on my property. I'm in the process of getting a ham tower. There is esay excess to the tower to do maintenance. I have a area for AT@T on my property. I'm the owner of the property and it is already paid for. Very very low rent for my location. My Email is digigirl98@hotmail.com

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