Council OKs new cell-tower rules

With the demand for wireless service increasing against a backdrop of persistent concerns among some residents about aesthetics and possible health problems associated with telecommunications equipment, the City Council has approved changes to how installation applications will be handled.

The new ordinance has stricter guidelines for aesthetics and camouflaging so-called monopoles, encourages the shared location of towers where possible, and is intended to provide an easier application process for equipment mounted in non-residential zones, according to the city. Such towers are no longer permitted in residential zones.

“As proposed, the ordinance does an excellent job balancing aesthetics, safety and access,” Councilman Dave Golonski said during a City Council meeting last week.

He added that he liked the message the ordinance was sending about pushing the wireless towers as far away from residential neighborhoods as possible while making better cell-phone coverage possible.


Rich Roche, a representative from AT&T, said that in the last four years, the company has seen wireless demand grow at an unprecedented rate.

“Demand for wireless service with AT&T has grown 8,000%,” Roche said, adding that one in five homes in California were now wireless.

Telecommunications facilities need to be placed in areas where people want to make calls while being mindful of the impact to residents, Roche said.

“I believe that’s what this ordinance does,” Roche said. “It’s tough, fair and balanced.”


Resident Kiku Iwata — a member of Burbank ACTION, a group formed to oppose cell towers in residential neighborhoods — expressed concern with having wireless facilities on a public right-of-way because of the proximity to homes and asked the City Council to ban the equipment from schools or churches.

City officials said it would be up to each church, school or other institution if it wanted to enter into an agreement to have cellular antenna equipment mounted on roofs or walls.

Julian Quattlebaum of California Wireless Services, an association representing the wireless industry, noted the importance of having enough telecommunications towers, especially during emergencies.

When first responders don’t have sufficient capacity in their own network, they could use the community network as a backup, he said.