Pleasanton Weekly

News - November 19, 2010

Cell phones in Pleasanton: Better reception or no new towers?

Planners to look at how to meet coming demand

by Jeb Bing

Even before the city's Planning Commission votes on a bid by Verizon Wireless to build a 65-foot-high cell phone transmission tower in Pleasanton, the City Council agreed Tuesday night to take a new look at regulations that restrict these towers in many parts of town.

At the council's urging, City Manager Nelson Fialho and Brian Dolan, director of Community Development, said they would have staff and planners look at current regulations that date back to 2003. Those rules prohibit cell phone towers from being installed in public parks, near schools and in residential areas.

Those rules, the city attorney's office said, were made to avoid any impact on property values. The city was blocked from considering any health risks from electronic transmissions at the towers because of federal regulations declaring them to be safe and not subject to further state or local regulations.

Verizon, represented by Complete Wireless Consultants, has asked the Planning Commission for a permit to install its 65-foot-high tower, to be disguised as a pine tree, on city-owned land near Bernal Corporate Park and I-680 and near Corte Monterey. A decision is expected to be made at the commission's meeting next Wednesday.

Neighbors on Corte Monterey said they have been participating in the Planning Commission's review of the Verizon proposal for the last six months. They are concerned that Verizon's bid is just the first of many to follow as widespread demand for 4G wireless communications systems increases. Walnut Creek has already declared a moratorium on more cell phone tower considerations pending a detailed study and residents asked the Pleasanton council to do the same.

Fialho said city staff is recommending against Verizon's application, but agreed that it's time to review and possibly update the Pleasanton ordinance.

He cautioned, however, that changing the regulations in place could mean considering a number of new federal regulations governing cell phone communications that could impact any new rules Pleasanton considers.

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