Public Hearing Meeting on Proposed Verizon Cell Phone Tower

Summary of the ​Public Hearing meeting on 10/19/17​:

The Zoning Administrator hearing the case was David Weintraub. He said they were also waiting for the Calif. Environmental Act-related report for this proposed project. He said he had reviewed the previous case and the present one and was very familiar with the case. He mentioned that they had also received public comments. Someone asked him how many they had received and he said 109 letters.

He asked Verizon to make their presentation first and to go over the new proposal and how it was different from the previous one.

Kevin Sullivan presented for Verizon.

He said the proposed fake tree would be eucalyptus and have a higher branch count than the previous one. He said they planned to place socks over the antennas. There would be landscaping around the base of the tree that would include vines that would grow up the “trunk.” He mentioned the wall enclosing the equipment. The tower size would basically be about the same as the previous one. He said that the fake tree would be comparable to trees in the area, lower than the power poles along Robertson Blvd., which are over 60′, comparable in size to the billboards, etc. He mentioned Verizon’s need for additional coverage to serve travelers, residents, etc. They had examined other sites, but there were none. The other sites were either too close to existing towers, rooftops were too low or had structural support issues, or owners did not want to lease to them.

David Weintraub asked about things like the height difference, the wrought iron fencing, the branch number in the prior design vs. this design, if there was a Neighborhood Council decision on the matter, what about placing the structure on an apartment rooftop, etc.

Kevin said there had not been a Neighborhood Council decision on the matter.

Verizon’s architect/engineer answered some of these questions: the wrought iron is existing and not being replaced; the equipment enclosure will include 4 walls and a cover and will have stucco to match the existing building; there would be a 30-40% increase in branches; structures on apartments were limited in height by L.A. ordinance.

The public was invited to speak. There were close to 20 people in attendance in opposition to the project. People brought documents and pictures and verbally brought up a number of issues. Doug mentioned that the SORONC LUED committee did vote against the proposal and requested that the decision date be moved until 11/1, after their upcoming Board meeting, in order for the N.C. to officially weigh in on the matter. I believe he also mentioned emerging technology that could render the installation of the tower obsolete, but that the local community would be stuck with it for decades. Folks addressed issues like aesthetics; scale of Verizon’s photos being inaccurate; effects on land use; inconsistency with the City of L.A.’s General Plan; the property owner’s lack of care or interest in leasing out the building on the property historically; the placement of the tower eliminating future business and improvement there; effect on local property values; the community’s efforts to improve the area over the years, including the current Great Streets project and how this tower would effect those efforts; safety issues; noise issues; possible health issues, which the Zoning Administrator said he could not include. Liz Carlin spoke on behalf of the City Councilman’s office agreeing with the neighbors and reiterating the request for the decision to be delayed until after the SORONC Board meeting. Others can embellish more on the testimony of the public.

Verizon was than offered time for rebuttal:

They said that the General Plan included integration of telecommunications for facilitating development. They quoted a State law 65964.1c that mentions that timely telecommunication implementation helps the economy. They said that “small cell” technology was only to support “macro facilities,” but they can’t replace a macro site. They said that the photos were accurate and there was no misrepresentation of scale or perspective. They said that their existing towers were already operating at maximum capacity. The three existing towers were located on the rooftop of 3000 Robertson Blvd., Castle Heights; and near the I-10 Palms area. They said that the micro cells would not be enough to service the area and that they needed to add another centrally located macro tower. They addressed a comment about economic and racial discrimination, saying that the CDC reports that most of the Hispanic and Black community exclusively rely on cell phones, so this would provide more services to those communities. They addressed the health issue by saying that the science shows that macro sites do not pose a health risk and the FCC rules are based on the EPA, OSHA, etc. They said they were not aware of safety issues like towers falling or fires and that the towers were considered part of the emergency communications network, so they are held to a higher structural standard than other structures. He siad there were no noise complaints about their hundreds of thousands of cell towers. There was a question about the generator and he said it is tested once a week for about 15 minutes at a time and that sound levels were around 63db and that it would be enclosed. The Zoning Administrator also volunteered that based on other cases, that he knew that the diesel emissions from the generators are minimal. The generator has 24-hour capacity before needing to be refueled.

The Zoning Administrator decided to keep the record open until 11/3/17, allowing for SORONC ​Board ​
to submit their decision on the matter and to allow for further public comment to be submitted to Alam Choudhury. He said that he had inherited a lot of cases from a retiring Zoning Administrator and that he was heavily backlogged. He said his determination would take approximately 6-8 weeks after 11/3/17.

In view of this, the public can still write-in to comment until 11/3!


Andrew Leavenworth
RVNA Co-President