By Jason KUROSU
The Crescenta Valley Town Council will make a motion on whether to approve the LA RICS cellphone tower proposal tonight, Thursday, a project that has some residents worried about negative health effects and declining property values.
The tower would be constructed at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station and is intended to give first responders a network independent of commercial cell networks, particularly for scenarios where cell networks typically go down, such as earthquakes or other major disasters.
The CV Town Council’s Land Use Committee made a motion recommending that the town council approve the tower after a 5-3 committee vote at its June 11 meeting.
The Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA RICS) consists of two systems, a Land Mobile Radio (LMR) system for day-to-day radio communication service for public agencies and a Long-Term Evolution (LTE) system for a broadband wireless network. Construction at the sheriff’s station began in February, but construction there and at sites across the region halted after opposition arose from residents and groups like the International Association of Fire Fighters.
The initial plan called for the creation of 231 monopoles, but has since been scaled back to 69 fixed towers and 15 mobile units.
Crescenta Valley Town Council President Robbyn Battles said the issue was a major topic, whether or not one believes the tower will actually improve first responder efficiency or lead to negative health effects.
“Either way, this affects the health and safety of our community,” said Battles.
Battles said among the arguments in favor of the cell tower is giving first responders a dedicated network, allowing for communication between emergency service providers should a major disaster derail conventional channels of communication.
“They use the same lines of data as the rest of us,” said Battles. “With this, if there’s an emergency, our lines don’t get clogged.”
But Battles said the reduction of the project’s size raises questions of its overall effectiveness.
“How effective is this system going to be when it’s been pared down so much?” asked Battles.
The town council expects to hear opposition to the tower regarding potential health effects. Opponents believe the tower will emit electromagnetic fields, radiation they believe is carcinogenic.
The town council will make a recommendation to Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office at its regular Thursday meeting tonight, June 18. Representatives from LA RICS, including Executive Director Pat Mallon, will be in attendance to answer questions from the public.
The LA RICS topic will be the last item on the town council’s agenda. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the La Crescenta Library community room.
Those who are unable to attend but wish to comment are encouraged to email comments to the council at firstname.lastname@example.org.