Cell tower protestors speak at council meeting

Proposed tower location near Moulton Meadows Park is too close for comfort because it's near children, parents say.

November 25, 2010|By Barbara Diamond
  • Cell tower behind the fire station at Top of the World.
Cell tower behind the fire station at Top of the World. (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Some Arch Beach Heights residents oppose the proposed installation of a communications installation they feel is too close to Moulton Meadows Park where their children play.

Three opponents of the project asked the City Council at the Nov. 16 meeting to intervene in the installation on a home at 1100 Balboa Ave. and one proposed a city limitation on locations near areas where children congregate.

"There is already at least one and maybe two in the home," said Charmaine Craig, a UC Riverside professor who said she was speaking for the residents of Arch Beach Heights.

Craig said she had not heard of any public hearing on the project and asked if the city isn't legally obligated to notify neighbors.

Telecommunications facilities require conditional-use permits and the installations on Balboa were reviewed by the Planning Commission in 2008. Neighbors were noticed, Director of Community Development John Montgomery told the council.


The request for an additional installation will be heard by the commission at its Dec. 8 meeting, which will be legally noticed.

"The [proposed] antenna is very scary for parents who have kids playing at Moulton Meadows Park," a resident identified as Jack Dillow told the council.

Arch Beach resident Kristy Wemys proposed banning the installations within 1,500 feet of areas where children frequent, which she said other communities have imposed.

Asked by Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman how other communities were able to the 1,500-foot ban, Montgomery said he had no idea.

The federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits local municipalities from interfering with telecommunications services, including placement of towers based on health concerns, particularly cognitive effects and sleep quality.

International health experts reported in 2007 that living near the installations had not been found to cause brain cancer. UC Irvine professor and Laguna Beach resident Joie Jones has testified before the council and the Planning Commission that the towers do not pose a health risk, but not all the public is not convinced.

Some are and installations on private property can be lucrative. Councilwoman Jane Egly said property owners are paid as much as $40,000 or $50,000 per installation.

The council wrestled with the issues of location long before the latest application.

In 1994, outraged parents persuaded the Board of Education to pull out of deal to construct a 75-foot tower on the El Morro Elementary School campus.

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