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Loma Alta Cell Phone Tower Project Denied

Breaking with the advice of county staff, the Board of Supervisors granted an appeal on a cell phone tower at 147 E. Loma Alta Drive and the project will not go forward.

The County Board of Supervisors overturned the decision of their county planning staff Tuesday and denied a permit for a proposed 100 foot monopine cell phone tower in a wash area at 147 E. Loma Alta Drive.

Led by Altadena's representative, Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who described the project as "visually intrusive" the board voted unanimously on denying the permit to AT & T.

The ruling came after an appeal to the decision of a County Regional Planning Commission, which in February.  Staff in the Planning Department had advised the Board of Supervisors to uphold that ruling and deny the appeal, which was filed by several Altadena residents in the area.

Antonovich noted that the proposal was to build an 100 foot tower with the appearance of a pine tree in an area where the maximum building height was zoned for 35 feet.  He said he believed the project is inconsistent with neighborhood standards.

His opinion was shared by several neighbors immediately adjacent to the property who came to the hearing to oppose the project.

"It will be as tall as a seven or eight story building," said Altadena resident Lillian Jones. "When you mar the landscape with this kind of tower, the tower becomes the landscape."

Jones' opinion is not shared by everyone in the area: county staff noted that they received 53 letter or emails in favor of the project, and only eight in opposition.  However, the staff report does also include a petition opposing the project that was signed by more than 40 people.

Many of the supporters noted in their letters that they believe the project would have helped improve poor cell phone reception in Altadena.

The Altadena Town Council also supported the project and Town Council member (and Altadena Patch columnist) Greg Middleton spoke in favor of it at Tuesday's meeting.

John Doe July 01, 2011 at 02:00 AM
JH is correct. My point is that, if AT&T wanted and hasn't already done so, it has the ability to implement the technology to allow E911 calls to be routed through cells of other carriers. Apparently, AT&T has not. Instead, because AT&T consistently has placed last amongst providers of cell phone service in the area, AT&T has embarked on this well-publicized campaign to place multiple cell towers throughout LA County in an effort to climb out of the competitive cellar. It is shameful that AT&T has not disclosed to its subscribers that it has the ability to relieve their emergency call fears and, instead, has allowed the fear to be advanced as a basis to meet the goals of its campaign to enhance its bottom line.
SteveB July 01, 2011 at 05:34 PM
JH is correct, but you don't seem to be understanding him: "the carrier can only route the call if the user has a phone that is capable of communicating with the carrier's network. There are lots of technical barriers there, which means in most cases your phone is only going to use the original carrier's network."
Lori Paul January 17, 2012 at 07:01 PM
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 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 up 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. 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 why this option has not been promoted. The "mono-pine" designs AT&T has tried to impose on Altadena neighborhoods are unaesthetic, look like hideous fake Christmas trees, and age poorly. The fake palms look a bit better, but are still undesirable. 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.
Steve Lamb January 17, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Lori- THAT MAKES SENSE! Probably why it will never happen
Brian January 18, 2012 at 02:37 AM
The fact is Altadena has bad cellular tower reception because of inane regulations by LA supervisors and local residents who don't understand microwave transmission limitations as a function of antenna height. The towers are TOO LOW that is why the phone service is bad for most every person with a phone. Everywhere else in the Los Angeles area you go you'll see that transmission towers are high up in order to effectively receive and transmit these microwave cellular signals. Microwave frequencies are 'line-of-sight' essentially, so the more direct path to the antenna you have, the better signal strength (bars) you receive. A new transmission tower could be installed up on the mountain behind Loma Alta school, so that all cell phones in the area could easily receive and transmit to it line-of-sight and get great service. The problem is all the hype associated with how the tower 'looks' when installed but many newer designs look like living evergreen trees, so what is the problem for Altadenans on this???? As far as providers' towers communicating with cell phone of various manufacturers, Tri-Mode mode phones with analog transmission capability can use any one of the towers out there for 911 services that still have analog receivers.

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