By Timithie NORMAN
A proposed cellular tower development in a primarily residential area of Tujunga has generated opposition from the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council, prompting the council and residents of the area to submit formal letters of opposition to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning.
The tower, which would be owned and operated by Metro-PCS and provide additional cellular coverage to customers in the foothill area, is proposed to be installed on the Our Lady of Lourdes Church campus at 7324 Apperson St. According to the permit filed for the project, the church site was chosen due to its geographic ability to provide coverage both to the north and south.
“Our main concern is the health and safety hazards the tower will have,” said neighborhood council member and Tujunga resident Cindy Cleghorn. “We didn’t know asbestos was a problem until years later, so what about cell radio waves?”
Studies about the health effects from the radiation from cellular towers have been inconclusive, with the American Cancer Society maintaining that living or working near a cell tower does not increase an individual’s risk of cancer, but the UK’s Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research program found in 2000 that studies have not been expansive enough to dismiss potential risk.
Regardless of the tower’s possible health effects, the administrator of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rev. Roland Astudillo, stated the parish’s formal support for the project in a letter dated Aug. 9 to the city zoning administrator, writing “the project design was negotiated with full knowledge of parish leadership and deemed to be acceptable.” The parish and Archdiocese of Los Angeles stand to gain approximately $1,500 a month in leasing fees if the project is approved.
Other concerns by local residents, as voiced at Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council meetings, include “the noise and aesthetically ugly design” of the project.
The tower, as described by Metro-PCS, will be a 55-foot free-standing “monopine disguised to look like a tree, will blend with existing trees and will be disguised in all public views.” Renderings of the proposed tower show it in a grove of existing trees, which range in height from 40 to 71 feet tall.
“Another site went in just up the street and it’s ugly and makes a lot of noise,” Cleghorn said. “And no one could say anything about it. The neighbors are finding that the plans are not representing what truly will happen, and that there are a lot of verbal promises.”
A representative of Metro-PCS could not be reached for comment.
The Neighborhood Council is finishing its formal letter of opposition that will be submitted to the zoning department in the coming weeks. A final decision will be made about the future development in another month.
Residents who would like to learn more or voice their opinions about the development are invited to attend the next Neighborhood Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in the North Valley Neighborhood City Hall at 7747 Foothill Blvd. in Tujunga.