Like a typical Saturday morning, I was enjoying my front yard with my children, letting them play freely outside, and taking in the beauty of our mountain side community. Then a neighbor broke the news that AT&T plans to construct a 70-foot cell phone tower in the middle of our quiet residential community on property owned by the Crescenta Valley Water District.
Admittedly, at first I did not realize the gravity of what I had just heard. We were thrust into this battle suddenly and the more I researched and learned about cell phone towers, the more disturbed and concerned I became. Now the fear of AT&T prevailing in their plan keeps me up at night. Will I still be able to enjoy the scenery of our mountain community? Could I live in the shadow of a cell phone tower and feel safe? How much of a loss will I take if I am forced to sell my home?
This is a battle being waged city by city, town by town across the country. Some towns are successful in thwarting efforts to place these gigantic cell towers in their backyards; others are not so lucky. The efforts on the part of the residents, community leaders, local government, professional associations, and media outlets seem to make a difference in the outcome of the fight.
There are many reasons why placing these towers in the middle of residential communities is a bad idea. For one, studies have demonstrated, and local realtors can attest, that these cell towers drive down housing prices by as much as 20 percent. Depressed housing prices result in decreased property taxes and less money generated for our town. Furthermore, parents may move or think twice about buying homes in this community, resulting in decreased student enrollment and less school funding. In addition, the aesthetic appeal of our foothill community is rooted in the beautiful nature that surrounds us. A 70-foot cell phone tower disguised as a tree is an undeniable eyesore and is not in keeping with the natural beauty of our community. Cell phone towers are also uniquely susceptible to collapse and falling debris. Having lived in this area for many years, I am familiar with the heavy winds that come through our neighborhood. I personally had a gate completely blown off during a recent windstorm. Having a 70-foot metal structure in close proximity to our homes is frightening. Finally, cell phone towers are a source of fire danger that could devastate our residential community.
One more issue that is of concern to me, are the potential health risks that are associated with living near a cell phone tower. Some studies regarding the safety of cell phone towers show that it is not healthy to live or go to school in close proximity to cell phone towers, which emit electromagnetic radiation, twenty-four hours a day. While other studies may disagree, I believe that when it comes to our health and the health of our children, erring on the side of caution is the right thing to do. Current federal law prevents health concerns related to emission to be basis for the denial of one of these cell phone towers. Clearly, telecommunications companies have a strong lobbying presence in Washington; homeowners do not.
Please don’t get me wrong — I understand the need for cell phone towers, but I also strongly believe that we need to protect homeowners in our community. I do not believe 70-foot towers (however they are disguised) in close proximity to residences are fair. I visited the site where AT&T intends on placing the tower recently. I was shocked to see how close the proposed tower would be to my neighbors’ properties. If you could see what I saw, you would be outraged as well. Other cities, including Glendale, places strict requirements on telecommunications companies when they propose cell phone towers near residences and schools. This places the burden on the telecommunications companies to prove why that particular site is necessary and sets base-line rules to protect residents. We, the citizens of La Crescenta, need and should demand similar protections.
It is important to keep in mind that allowing this cell phone tower to go forward here sets a dangerous precedent that will open the door to similar tower installations in other residential neighborhoods across our town. Everyone in our community should be deeply concerned with this proposal. Please do not wait until a 70-foot cell phone tower arrives on your front door step or backyard. Get educated now and stake your position to protect your family, protect your property value, and protect your use and enjoyment of your property.
I urge all residents to email your comments and concerns regarding this proposed project to the Los Angeles County Planner, Michele Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org, on or before February 17, 2014. Please reference the case R2013-01031-(5), CUP201300055 AT&T and copy CV.ACTNOW@gmail.com, the CV Town Council Corresponding Secretary Cheryl Davis at cheryl@theCVcouncil.com, and the Crescenta Valley Water District at email@example.com. If you would like to receive updated information and/or join us in our effort to defeat AT&T’s proposal, please contact CV.ACTNOW@gmail.com to join our email list.
Please also make every effort to attend the following meetings where the community will be given the opportunity to express their concerns:
- Thursday, February 13, 6:30 PM: Crescenta Valley Town Council Land Use Meeting (La Crescenta Library Community Room, 2809 Foothill Blvd., enter through the door at the back of the building);
- Tuesday, February 18, 7:00 PM: Crescenta Valley Water District Board of Directors Meeting. (Crescenta Valley Water District Building, 2700 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta);
- Thursday, February 20, 7:00 PM: Crescenta Valley Town Council Meeting (La Crescenta Library Community Room, 2809 Foothill Blvd., enter through the door at the back of the building); and
- Tuesday, March 4, 1:00 PM: Department of Regional Planning Hearing (Department of Regional Planning, 320 W. Temple St., Room 150, Los Angeles, CA 90012).
We have an uphill battle and we need the community’s voices to be heard loud and clear: 70-foot cell phone towers do not belong in our backyards.
Concerned Resident of La Crescenta