Parents rally against cell tower

Concerned parents at Harbour View Elementary School are trying to get a ballot measure about two cell towers in parks voted down come November.

The Committee for No on Measure Q, a group of about six parents, is spreading the word on the ballot measure and holding a rally at 12:50 p.m. Oct. 13 at Harbour View Park, 16600 Saybrook Lane.

Measure Q is the city's private wireless communications facility advisory measure, which asks residents if they want mobile telephone antennas at Harbour View Park and Bolsa View Park, 5741 Brighton Drive.

The vote is an advisory tool for the city and the judge in a lawsuit against the city over the cell towers to gauge how residents feel and doesn't mandate action, said City Atty. Jennifer McGrath.

"I think our city needs to have some clear guidelines as to how and where cell towers can be erected," said committee member Jodie Arendt.

Arendt said she isn't against cell towers, but these two are about 20 feet from a playground and elementary school at Harbour View and practically on top of the sandbox at Bolsa View.

"I am against irresponsible placement of cell towers," she said.

The towers would create an eyesore for the community and create a safety hazard for children climbing up them or something falling off them, Arendt said.

She is also concerned about the radio emissions the towers would give off.

T-Mobile declined to comment on the ballot measure because of the pending litigation surrounding the two cell towers, said spokesman Rod De La Rosa.

T-Mobile was originally slated to build a 55-foot-high cell tower at Harbour View and a nearly 52-foot-high tower at Bolsa View.

Both towers were going to be disguised as trees and were needed to increase cell coverage in the area, according to city records.

The City Council revoked T-Mobile's wireless permits Aug. 30 because a significant coverage gap wasn't proven and there are viable alternatives.

The permits were originally granted by administrative approval in 2007, but the company voluntarily halted construction in April 2009 after neighbors spoke out against them.

It later came out that the projects, originally slated to cost $60,000 and $80,000 to build, were actually going to cost about $200,000 each. The cost increase put the project under the purview of Measure C, which dictates that all projects in parks or on beaches that cost more than $100,000 must go to a vote of the people.

T-Mobile sued the city in May 2009, arguing that the federal Telecommunications Act trumped a vote of the people. The judge upheld that the city couldn't use Measure C as a reason for denying the cell towers, but instructed the city to reevaluate the permit in light of the fact that T-Mobile didn't "provide the required information accurately," according to the judgment.

Although the judge ruled the city couldn't use a vote of the people as a reason for denial, the city wanted to make sure it had all its bases covered, and the ballot measure could be a factor in the court's determination when the lawsuit goes to trial, McGrath said.

The lawsuit is expected to go to trial after the elections in November.

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