News

Church neighbors appeal cell tower decision

Neighbors upset, say church's outreach was lacking

The City Council will soon weigh in on a controversy involving a cell tower approved for the top of First Presbyterian Church, near a preschool and dozens of homes where many are concerned about potentially cancer-causing radiation.

Neighbors of the church at Cuesta Drive and Miramonte Avenue have pulled together $500 to appeal the zoning administrator's approval of the cell tower earlier this month, said neighbor Jared Waxman in an e-mail.

"Apparently, the Zoning Administrator takes the position that any owner of a residential parcel could build a commercial telecommunications facility on that parcel without obtaining a conditional use permit, a variance, or a rezoning," Waxman said. "That does not make a lot of sense to us, and we are eager to hear what the City Council has to say on the subject."

In an petition opposing the tower, some neighbor's say they are unhappy with the church, which had a "moral obligation" to reach out to the neighborhood to discuss the cell tower before moving forward with it.

"This church chose cash over community," said neighbor W. Yee. "To me it's more of an issue of how the church has handled it. If their concern was with the community, they would have reached out to the community and said 'How many of you are customers of Sprint-Nextel? How many of you are interested in this service?'"

Pastor Tim Boyer told the Voice that a committee of church members approved of the cell tower, which would provide income for the church. Boyer would not disclose how much it is being paid. Another church representative said at the Nov. 10 zoning administrator meeting that tenants of the church, including Little Acorn Preschool and a group of Boy Scouts, were notified and no one complained about the idea.

Yee said that parents of the preschool, who did not find out about the cell tower until days before it was approved, are now being prevented from leaving notices for other parents at the church-run pre-school about the issue.

In his approval, Zoning Administrator Peter Gilli said federal law prevented him from rejecting the cell tower over concerns with radiation, which he said would be well below FCC limits.

The tower would be placed on top of a chapel on the southeast corner of the property, across the site from the church's main chapel.

Comments

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 23, 2010 at 10:49 pm

It occurs to me at this moment that many of our nation's current problems could be greatly ameliorated by taxing the churches.


Posted by A. Reader, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 24, 2010 at 12:32 am

This church chose cash over community. Outrageous!!! And placed on top of its chapel a "radiation" cell tower to boot. What a travesty!!! I think this church is TOAST!


Posted by AgnosticAl, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Organized religion feeds on its participants.


Posted by AgnosticAl, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm

"Apparently, the Zoning Administrator takes the position that any owner of a residential parcel could build a commercial telecommunications facility on that parcel..."

The council will probably say "If the (tower)structure exists already, its OK. If you want to erect a tower, then no.
I have a feeling some new ordinances should be thought about here, but for this case, its a lost cause. It may help future cases though.


Posted by Neighbor and Parent, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I live right up the street from the church and would hate it if this cell tower went up. I'd have to stop recommending Little Acorn to others (we're currently attending) and would change my opinion of this church as a valued member of our community. It's a shame. Hopefully they'll make the right decision and cancel the cell tower from going up.

Both Safeway on Miramonte/Cuesta and the office building across from the church were asked to put this cell tower up by Clearwire and both refused. There's a reason why and we hope the church will make the same decision.


Posted by Laura, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Many of our nations problems are due to over-taxation and fees without representation. Stop over-regulating and embrace the free market principles. The church did nothing wrong here except exercise its God given rights.


Posted by Dominick, a resident of Waverly Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I assume that the protestors of the installation of a Cell Phone tower are not cell phone users.
If they are users then it's a clear case of NIMBY, not in my back yard.


Posted by Tim Proschold, a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2010 at 3:32 pm

As a Realtor in the MV/LA area, this issue seems to come up a lot about these towers as well as other public utilities. See the link below for information from the American Cancer Society regarding cell phone towers:

Web Link

Also, see the link for cell phone usage:

Web Link

Hopefully this information is helpful. People might be better off taking precautions with their individual cell phones vs. worrying about cell phone towers. I know I can't wait for 4G service so I can open up my laptop and work pretty much anywhere...

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Posted by resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 24, 2010 at 9:13 pm

"Apparently, the Zoning Administrator takes the position that any owner of a residential parcel could build a commercial telecommunications facility on that parcel without obtaining a conditional use permit, a variance, or a rezoning," Waxman said."

This makes no sense. The church is not placing this tower on residential property. Churches are COMMERCIAL entities, plain and simple.


Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 25, 2010 at 9:10 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Thanks to Tim Proschold for helpful information links (which unfortunately, recent history suggests, won't interest people who welcome only information supporting their prejudices -- an instructive telltale of which is rhetorically labeling radio signals "radiation" though they'd never think of using that equally valid technical term for light or TV or Wi-Fi any other traveling waves). Thanks also to the others whose postings usefully illustrate both that religious intolerance is alive and well in the US, and that it is associated with people too cowardly to register and post under their real names.


Posted by Ron, a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2010 at 11:49 am

I believe the church is in a residential (R1) zoned area according to the city zoning map. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Also, the argument that some make about those opposed to the tower being hypocrits if they use cell phones is not appropriate. Would you want an airport close by? If not, you shouldn't fly. A power station in the neighborhood? If not, you shouldn't use electr4icity. An oil refinery in your neighborhood? And so on.

I think the argument is that it should be in an appropriate location.

And as far as NIMBYs go, I really can't blame them. You have to take care of your neighborhood first and let others take care of theirs.


Posted by Ron, a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2010 at 12:08 pm

One more thing.

"Thanks to Tim Proschold for helpful information links (which unfortunately, recent history suggests, won't interest people who welcome only information supporting their prejudices...)"

There were some links provided by two or three other posters in a different thread covering this topic some weeks back which supported those who are opposed to this tower. I don't recall anyone refuting those. So I suppose the above statement could also apply to those people whose prejudices welcome only information supporting the tower.


Posted by A. Reader, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 26, 2010 at 9:08 am

"Both Safeway on Miramonte/Cuesta and the office building across from the church were asked to put this cell tower up by Clearwire and both refused"

Safeway was apparently afraid the "radiation" tower could radiate their groceries. And the office building, their residents?


Posted by A. Reader, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 26, 2010 at 9:23 am

"There's a reason why and we hope the church will make the same decision."
Church has less incentive to ban the "radiation" tower because its worshipers spend far less time inside the "radiation zone" compared to those in an office building, etc.


Posted by John the Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 27, 2010 at 3:52 am

Excuse me, but tell me again how many of those church neighbors use cell phones themselves?


Posted by Get Smart, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 27, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Let's get the facts straight:

1. We've gotten by so far with cell providers offering good coverage using primarily commercial / industrial land farther from residences and schools. It's not perfect, but better than the proposed. Now, commercial enterprises are misusing residentially zoned land for profit - not because it's required but because it's their cheapest option - if we let them get away with it.

2. While you may view it as a NIMBY issue, it'll soon be in your backyard as well. The services being build out now will goal to have a tower every 1/2 mile. Multiple that by 3 or 4 providers and you too will be having your nearby single-family zoned land turned over to a big corporation to profit while your neighborhood changes character right under the nose of city zoning laws that are written to prevent just that.

3. Whether the proposed facility is erected or not, residents like myself will continue to have cell coverage. In fact, my family has cell phones from three different providers. And now that Apple is allowing providers other than AT&T to provide iPhone service, even that will improve.

4. The proposed facility is not even for cell service per se. It is for WiMAX. This is a type of service that does not even exist today in the Bay Area. It is another alternative to the kind of broadband internet that you can get through cable or DSL. So again, rejecting the proposed facility does not impact cell service. The argument that "if you oppose the construction you shouldn't use cell phones", wears pretty thin.

5. The company trying to provide the WiMAX service has actually been the target of a class action lawsuit elsewhere for false-advertising, because the actual service delivered was so poor that it was actually worse than dial up for some customers. So again, this service is neither necessary, nor even perhaps desirable.

6. If some sort of similar over-the-air broadband was thought to be important, there are better, safer and more equitable technologies for delivering it. "Distributed Antenna Systems" involve putting many MORE antennas around the neighborhood, but each at a much lower power. Instead of some innocent 3 year olds paying the price by receiving hundreds time more dosing that the 60 year business man subscribed to the service, distributing the antennas is more equitable because all residents put themselves at equal (though lower) risk. It's easy to cry NIMBY when believe you can reap the benefits and not bear the risks. Distributed systems end that thinking.



Posted by A. Reader, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm

So basically what you are saying in a nutshell is that we are all going to be swimming in a sea of "radiation"? And all for some greedy corporations?


Posted by Ron, a resident of another community
on Nov 27, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Get Smart,

The most reasoned, well-thought out post thus far in this debate.


Posted by Cuesta Park Resident, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 2, 2010 at 12:52 pm

It maybe true that the RF from generated from this tower will have no harmful effects but there doesn't seem to be any data to support this. It's appears the Mountain View residents for this tower do not live in the Cuesta Park area. I wounder how the RF waves from this tower will effect current radio and free-to air TV. Why isn't it relocated to one of the industrial areas in Mountain View? That suggestion from one of the other residents seems like a good one. Another example of our city councils good deeds is Villa Siena. Take a drive down Begen Ave and take a look..............


Posted by Member, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I have a problem with the way the church handled it. They should have given the neighbors more notice. However, they are building it on their own property. If they own the property they should be allowed to do as they please. While, I would have a problem going to a church that was so unhelpful to neighbors, I don't think it's the city's problem. They are doing it ON THEIR OWN LAND.


Posted by The difference, a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Hey John the Man - In case you missed class that day... the comments aren't saying that no free-thinking adult should not be allowed to use their cell phone if they understand the risks vs the benefits. The point is that 2 year olds, who are not yet capable of reading studies, weighing evidence, or making decisions for themselves, are being forced into an experiment on grand proportions. And it's only their lives at stake.

No one - not even the CEO of Verizon - would advocate strapping a cell phone to an infants brain. They don't have a choice. And what's more, RF penetrates their skulls much more deeply according to imaging studies.


Posted by mugzy, a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm

So I've been reading this & I live on the east coast, PA. Can anyone tell me what happened? Is there a verdict yet?


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