Tower Construction Halted at Sheriff’s Station

A tractor sits on the construction site of the LA-RICS project at the sheriff’s station.
A tractor sits on the construction site of the LA-RICS project at the sheriff’s station.

By Brandon HENSLEY

L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich has informed LA-RICS to stop the construction of a communications tower at the CV Sheriff’s Station in La Crescenta.

Antonovich’s office sent a letter to LA-RICS’s executive director Patrick Mallon on June 19, one day after the most recent Crescenta Valley Town Council meeting, where council voted 7-1 in opposition of the tower’s construction.

“Based on the concerns expressed by the impacted residents and the vote of the town council please eliminate the La Crescenta Sheriff’s site from the LA-RICS project and ensure that the site is returned to its original state if any work had been initiated prior to today’s date,” the letter read.

During the council meeting, members of LA-RICS (Regional Interoperable Communications Systems) were present to witness the majority of public comments that were adamantly opposed to the 45-foot monopole. Most of the complaints centered on the concerns of microwave exposure. Residents said they didn’t want a tower that emits radiation into their homes at all hours of the day.

Another sticking point was the late response to inform the community. Council president Robbyn Battles chastised LA-RICS for informing residents just months prior to construction, even though the project has been in the works for several years.

Battles said it wasn’t fair because opposing the tower makes it look like council may not be supporting first responders. LA-RICS is building two systems, Land Mobile Radio for day-to-day communication, and Long-Term Evolution for a broadband wireless network. The plan calls for 67 permanent towers and 15 mobile units.

The CV tower was intended to give first responders an improved network of commercial towers to improve communication during emergencies as well as day-to-day communications.

Construction on the tower began in February but was halted when the L.A. County Board of Supervisors said more public outreach was required.

In a release last week, LA-RICS representatives said the tower would not be able to cover the area if it was placed in the Verdugos or higher in the San Gabriel Mountains. LA-RICS would have taken that option if it were available.

Battles said this week she would like to revisit the project and talk about alternatives, including temporary mobile towers. That way, in case of an emergency, the community is not at a disadvantage. LA-RICS said mobile units are not in play because it is too late to seek federal funding, as well as receive environmental clearance.

Earlier in the meeting, council approved a motion to write a letter to Caltrans and Metro rejecting the construction of the 710 Freeway tunnel, and supporting other alternatives, including light rail transit and bus-rail transit. Council is opposed to the tunnel because its goal is to “simply move cars,” as Battles said, which could increase traffic on the 210 Freeway in La Crescenta.

“We do endorse the two other alternatives … both are cost-effective and will provide communities with an extended transit network,” said councilmember Harry Leon.

The next CV Town Council meeting is scheduled for July 16 at 7 p.m. at the La Crescenta Library, 2809 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta.